Immigration Service Sued for Sitting on Investor Visas

border wall
A border wall in Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Julie Watson)

WASHINGTON (CN) — An alternative energy investment firm representing foreign investors sued the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Tuesday, claiming it has merely “spun its wheels” to delay worthy immigrants’ visas.

The California Energy Investment Center claims in federal court that USCIS has unreasonably delayed the visa applications of 200 immigrant investors who provided $100 million in funding for the McCoy solar energy plant in Riverside County, California.

The investment firm acts as a broker for wealthy foreign investors under the USCIS’s Immigrant Investor Program, which can issue EB-5 visas to investors who plow $500,000 or more into businesses in designated U.S. zones, and create at least 10 permanent U.S. jobs.

The approval process relies on government approval of the solar plant as a recognized foreign investment. Investors can apply for an EB-5 visa only after such approval.

The lawsuit claims that USCIS issued its first notice of intent to deny approval after 16 months of review. Seven months after the firm addressed the objections in the first notice, it received a second notice, with new objections.

Federal law considers 180 days a reasonable amount of processing time, the Investment Center says, and this process has dragged on for more than two years.

The American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act, proposed in the Senate in 2015, would have delayed approval of foreign immigrant investments by a year. Although the bill never became law, it started a rush of filings from investment firms and developers who hoped to get in applications before any changes.

That rush apparently affected USCIS response time. In March this year, USCIS announced it would hold immigration applications until the projects related to their investments were approved. According to its website, USCIS today is reviewing projects filed in November 2015.

That delay, however, does not address the Investment Center’s complaint about the second notice letter with new objections.

It asks the court to order USCIA to adjudicate its application within 30 days.

Its lead counsel is Ryan Posey with Posey Lebowitz.

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