On May 17, 2013, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it would hold a stakeholder meeting to discuss the utilization of USCIS’s Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) for filing of I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur Petitions. USCIS should be commended for its ongoing willingness to include stakeholders on a variety of issues, including transitions to an electronic filing system.

As we discussed in a recent blog post, all I-526 petitions were originally slated for filing through ELIS, but due to concerns from EB-5 stakeholders regarding the system’s ability to handle the volume of documents I-526 petitions require, the implementation was delayed. The mandatory transition from paper-based I-526 filings to ELIS was reconsidered and, instead, USCIS is considering a voluntary pilot program.

USCIS is also in the process of updating the ELIS system to facilitate efficient filings through the creation of a “document library” that allows multiple investors in the same regional center project to use the previously submitted project-specific documentation. The document library will provide investors with access to documents and then, perhaps, link the documents to the I-526 petition filing. Initially, it has been reported that the core documents will come from the I-924, Application for Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program. The specifics are not known yet and are still being decided. Whatever the end process will look like, we expect it to greatly assist in streamlining the process of filing I-526 petitions, ensure consistency for regional center-affiliated petitions, and increase the service’s productivity by cutting down on duplicative reviews. Use of the ELIS program for investors filing I-526 petitions will begin as a voluntary option, but is expected to become mandatory after the voluntary pilot phase concludes.

USCIS invited stakeholders to participate in the meeting, but limited the number of in person attendees to twenty-five. Partner Dawn Lurie will report in the meeting to our readers from Washington, D.C. We urge you to join the conversation and register to listen by phone. Registrations for phone attendance must be received no later than May 22, 2013.