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美国国土安全部发布“EB-5区域中心试行计划”审计报告

        美国国土安全部12月12号发布的最新“EB-5区域中心计划”监察报告对移民局现行裁决系统提出质疑!其中包括:要求加强间接就业核查;尤其建议只能认可EB-5项目里与移民投资对等部分的就业,加强审核就业确保投资项目真正促进美国经济;要求移民局和商务部,劳工部和证监会相互协作审核项目;要求强化对目标就业区认证的核实。
 
        以下是部分翻译的原文,仅供参考
 
        2013年12月12日
        美国国土安全部(Department of Homeland Security)
        监察总长办公室(Office of Inspector General)
        “EB-5区域中心试行计划”最新审计报告
        (报告号:OIG-14-19)
        报告来源:国土安全部网站链接如下
 
        http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2014/OIG_14-19_Dec13.pdf
 
        报告中对EB-5投资移民计划的背景介绍
 
        1990年,国会创立了移民局投资者计划,这就是被称为“以创造就业为基础的第五类优先(EB-5)计划”。该EB-5计划是1990年移民和规划法案的203(b)(5)条款,在公共法律101-649的121(a)部分。该计划的目的是通过创造就业和外国投资者的资本投资来刺激美国经济。
 
        原文如下:In 1990, Congress created the USCIS Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) Program. The EB-5 Program was created under 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in 1990, Public Law 101-649, Section 121(a), to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.
 
        三年后,商务部、司法部、国务院、法院和和有关机构拨款法案提出的修正案创造了区域中心试行计划,使得EB-5投资者可以在一个工业领域和确定的地理范围内聚集资金,促进经济发展。美国公民和外国人都可以运营一家区域中心,可以是任何经济单元,公开交易的或私营性,来促进经济,提高地区产值,创造就业,或提高当地资本投资。到2013年10月1日,全美范围内已经有325家区域中心。
 
         原文如下:Three years later, the Departments of Commerce, Justice and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (The Appropriations Act) created the concept of the regional center pilot program for pooling investor money in a defined industry and geographic area to promote economic growth. U.S. citizens or foreign nationals can operate regional centers, which can be any economic unit, public or private, engaged in the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, or increased domestic capital investment. As of October 1, 2013, USCIS reports that there are 325 approved regional centers.
 
        EB-5计划的要求
 
        1)基本的移民投资者计划要求新企业创造(或拯救)直接就业岗位(这些岗位必须是由美国公民或绿卡人士来担当)。
 
        The Basic Immigrant Investor Program requires the new commercial enterprise to create or preserve only direct jobs that provide employment opportunities for qualifying U.S. workers by the commercial enterprise in which capital has been directly invested.
 
        2)EB-5区域中心试行计划则允许外国投资者在满足就业要求的时候,由于EB-5区域中心相关的投资而产生的预期就业机会。
 
        原文如下:The Regional Center Program, formerly known as the Regional Center Pilot Program, allows the foreign investor to fulfill the job creation requirement through direct jobs or projections of jobs created indirectly. Jobs created indirectly are the job opportunities that are predicted to occur because of investments associated with the regional center.
 
        报告在其概述部分认为如下几个因素限制了移民局对EB-5区域中心计划的有效监督和管理,特别表现在:
        (1) 移民法规没有给予移民局否决或终止一个带有欺诈和国家安全隐患的区域中心参与EB-5项目的授权;
        (2) 该计划超出了移民局保持美国作为一个移民国家的责任范畴;
        (3) 移民局没有能够展示出外国投资对美国经济的好处;
        此外,移民局不能保持EB-5区域中心计划的完整性和统一性。移民局没能一直确保EB-5区域中心符合所有该计划的要求,移民局官员对联邦规定和政策的解读和贯彻前后不一致。进一步而言,当外部机构咨询该计划的时候移民局不能对此作出反馈,也不能记录他们的决定,使得EB-5区域中心计划显得虚弱。
 
         原文如下:Additionally, USCIS has difficulty ensuring the integrity of the Employment-Based Fifth Preference regional center program. USCIS does not always ensure that regional centers meet all program eligibility requirements, and USCIS officials differently interpret and apply Code of Federal Regulations and policies. Furthermore, when external parties inquired about program activities USCIS did not always document their decisions and responses to these inquiries, making the Employment-Based Fifth Preference regional center program appear vulnerable to perceptions of internal and external influences.
 
        结果是移民局没有能力防范欺诈或可能对国家安全构成的威胁;也没有能够展示出EB-5区域中心计划能改善美国经济,或促进美国人就业。而这些是当初国会创立此EB-5区域中心计划的初衷。
 
         原文如下:As a result, USCIS is limited in its ability to prevent fraud or national security threats that could harm the U.S.; and it cannot demonstrate that the program is improving the U.S. economy and creating jobs for U.S. citizens as intended by Congress.
 
        (我们)建议集中加强监督授权和保持计划申请连贯一致的规定,加强移民局和其他联邦机构的合作(指商务部、证监会、劳工部等部门)。加强EB-5区域中心计划的审核,加强该计划完善性的质量管理程序。
 
        原文如下:Our recommendations focused on strengthening regulations for oversight authority and consistent program application; better coordination with other Federal entities; comprehensive reviews of the program; and quality assurance procedures for program integrity.
 
        审计结果 (Results of Audit)
 
        (1)移民局责任范畴方面的限制
 
        报告认为,在EB-5项目成立时,立法者就声明移民局没有能够执行该计划的各个方面的专家,移民局应该寻求其他联邦机构的协助。3年后,当EB-5区域中心试行法案通过,进一步扩展了移民局的使命,但区域中心项目的批准变得更复杂和需要专业人士及机构。比如美国证监会,商务部,和劳工部。这些裁决包括了投资审核,商业和经济计划,就业计算方式,财务报表,融资,和法律合同等。
 
        原文如下:The EB-5 program extends beyond USCIS’ mission to provide immigration and citizenship services. When the EB-5 program was created, lawmakers acknowledged that USCIS did not have all of the expertise needed to implement the program and noted that USCIS should seek assistance from other agencies. Three years later, the Appropriations Act gave USCIS the oversight of the regional center concept, which further extended the EB-5 program from USCIS’ mission. For instance, adjudications of regional centers involve different complexities and expertise that align to missions of other departments and agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Departments of Commerce and Labor. Those adjudications involve responsibilities such as reviewing investments, business and economic plans, job creation methodologies, financial statements, funding, and legal agreements.
 
        对此,监察总长办公室在报告中特别列出了各个联邦机构在EB-5区域中心计划里的责任范畴表:
 
联邦部门和机构 责任范畴
移民局 保障美国作为一个移民国家,为客户提供准确和有帮助的信息,落实移民和公民福利,推进公民意识,保障移民系统完善。
商务部 促进就业及经济发展。特别是可持续发展。
证监会 保护投资者利益,保持公开,有序和有效的市场,协助资本形成。
劳工及劳工统计部 测量劳工市场活动,工作条件,价格变动。要搜集,分析和传播重要经济信息来支持公开或私营的决定过程。

        (2)外国投资者和就业创造方面
 
        移民局没有能够显示出外国投资能对美国经济的好处。移民局不能证明投资到公司里的外国资本在美国创造了就业。根据EB-5计划,CFR,联邦法规规则204.6(j)条要求外国投资者要证明其将合法来源的资金进入到一个新商业体(New Commercial Enterprise)以创造工作。根据移民局以前的决定,Matter of Izummi,移民局也允许(与新商业企业关联的)其他商业体在其他地方的就业,算成该区域中心项目的就业。问题是移民局没有被授权坚持其他商业企业创造就业的具体情况,所以,移民局没办法证明外国投资真正创造了那些预期间接的就业!
 
        原文如下:USCIS cannot demonstrate that foreign funds were invested in companies creating U.S. jobs. Under the EB-5 Program, 8 CFR 204.6(j) requires a petition to verify that the foreign investor is investing lawfully obtained funds in a new commercial enterprise to create U.S. jobs. Under the USCIS precedent decision, Matter of Izummi, USCIS also allows the creation of jobs by other entities, but as shown elsewhere, USCIS is not given the authority by the CFR to oversee these other entities. Therefore, USCIS cannot verify that the foreign investments lead to the intended creation of jobs.
 
        例如,报告鉴别了15个区域中心文件中的12个,在这些文件里移民局允许新企业招募EB-5资本,然后把这些资金作为贷款发放给其他能创造就业的企业。移民局的审查员确认因为根据CFR,联邦法规规则204.6(j)条,他们没有权力去检查或监督接受贷款企业的就业情况,所以他们不能去询问,收集详细资料来证明外国资金产生了就业。
 
        For example, we identified 12 of 15 regional center files in which USCIS allowed the creation of new commercial enterprises that collected EB-5 capital to make loans to other job-creating entities. USCIS adjudicators confirmed that because the CFR does not give them the authority to oversee these additional job creating entities, they are unable to inquire or obtain detail that would verify foreign funds are invested in the U.S. economy via a job-creating entity.
 
        进一步而言,8 CFR 204.6(g)条款允许外国投资者把项目中美国资金产生的就业也算成其产生的就业,使得移民局没办法确定外国投资是否真的为美国产生了就业。也就是说外国投资者有能力不必证明产生10个美国就业,就可能获得永久绿卡。在一个被审核的例子中,一个EB-5区域中心项目从美国本土获得了82%的项目资金。却可以将100%的就业创造归结为投资移民的贡献,尽管投资移民资金仅仅占总项目资本的18%。换句话说,尽管EB-5投资占比例很小,但EB-5投资者却能使用所有该项目产生的就业来为自己申请永久绿卡。当我们要求移民局对此作出解释的时候,移民官员解释说如果没有外国投资,该EB-5项目将不会存在。
 
        原文如下:Additionally, 8 CFR 204.6(g) allows foreign investors to take credit for jobs created with U.S. funds, making it impossible for USCIS to determine whether the foreign funds actually created U.S. jobs. Consequently, the foreign investors are able to gain eligibility for permanent resident status without proof of U.S. job creation. In one case we reviewed, an EB-5 project received 82 percent of its funding from U.S. investors through a regional center. The regional center was able to claim 100 percent of the projected job growth from the project to apply toward its foreign investors even though the foreign investment was limited to 18 percent of the total investment in the project. Every foreign investor was able to fulfill the job creation requirement even though the project was primarily funded with U.S. capital. When we questioned USCIS about this practice, the officials explained that the EB-5 project would not exist if not for the foreign investment.
 
        报告还研究了另外2个项目。这两个的所有资金来自于EB-5贷款。例如2010年6月一个外国投资者投资50万美元付清了建筑贷款和一个酒店的初期运营费用,该酒店事实上2009年12月就开业了。整个酒店项目资金是2800万美元,其中外国投资者投资总额为450万美元。400万美元的EB-5投资用于偿还现行贷款,50万美元用于购买现在的股权。尽管84%的资金来自于美国投资者,外国EB-5投资人仍然可以通过投资一个已经完成的项目而得到永久绿卡。
 
        原文如下:We also identified two cases in which foreign investments were loans for completed EB-5 projects. For example, in June 2010 a foreign national invested $500,000 to pay off an existing loan for the construction and operation of a hotel that had opened in December 2009. Total project costs for the hotel were about $28 million, in which foreign investments totaled $4.5 million. Four million of the foreign investments were used to pay off existing loans, and $500,000 was used to purchase existing equity. Although 84 percent of the funds were contributed by U.S. investors, the foreign investor was subsequently granted permanent U.S. residency based upon an investment in a project that had already been completed.
 
        EB-5投资是一个复杂的流程。起始于外国投资者把资金汇到一个所投资的新商业企业(New Commercial Enterprise)资金池里。发行费可能直接汇给区域中心,也可能直接进入资金池帐户来管理投资。新商业企业(New Commercial Enterprise)然后再将资金转至创造就业的项目里去。在就业创造的实体,EB-5投资者的资金和其他美国本土资金混合。而所创造的就业并没有按照资金来源比例分配,而是全部归为EB-5投资者。而法规也没有要求移民局跟踪及确认!
 
        原文如下:The flow of EB-5 foreign investments is a complex process. It starts with the foreign investor sending funds to the investment pool (i.e., the new commercial enterprise). The foreign investor may be required to send administrative fees to either the regional center or the new commercial enterprise for expenses related to managing the investment. The new commercial enterprise then transfers the funds to the job-creating entity for management of the project. At the job creating entity, the foreign investments are combined with investments from other sources, such as U.S. domestic funds. The numbers of estimated jobs created from that job-creating entity are not allocated among all investors based upon investment percentage, but are only attributed to the foreign investor. Additionally, current regulations do not require USCIS to track and verify that the foreign investment was invested into the job-creating entity.
 
        最近,移民局报告说从1990年来,超过68亿美元通过EB-5计划投入到美国经济里。至少创造了49000个新的工作岗位。我们试图证明这些统计,并要求支持性文件。移民局没有办法提供支持这些统计的文件。移民局官员说他们得估计这些数字并假设该计划的最低标准已经达到。结果是,移民局仅仅靠猜测EB-5投资如何影响美国经济,如何创造美国所需的就业。
 
        原文如下:Recently, USCIS reported that since 1990, more than $6.8 billion has been invested in the U.S. economy through the EB-5 program, and a minimum of 49,000 jobs have been created. We attempted to validate these statistics and requested the supporting information. USCIS was not able to provide support for the statistics reported. USCIS officials said that they had to estimate these figures and assumed the minimum requirements of the program had been met. As a result, USCIS was only able to speculate about how foreign investments are affecting the U.S. economy and whether the program is creating U.S. jobs as intended.
 
        (3)移民法规及政策
 
        移民局官员在解释CFR和移民法政策方面前后不一致。
 
        在一个例子中,为了产生好的决定。移民局官员要求区域中心申请方从其申请中删除一些不符合移民局先前执法决定(先例)的语言。通过告知申请方如何删除可能延迟或导致申请被拒绝的信息,移民局可能干扰了对申请方是否合法的评测。正确的方式是:如果证据显示一个申请不合规定,移民局审核员必须拒绝这个申请。
 
        原文如下:In another example, to generate a favorable decision, USCIS requested a regional center applicant to omit information from its application because the language was not in compliance with a USCIS precedent decision. By advising applicants to remove information because it may delay or prevent approval, USCIS may be circumventing measures in place to ensure applicant eligibility. An adjudicator must deny an application if the evidence establishes ineligibility.
 
        另外一个例子是州政府对高失业地区(TEA)的认证。规定要求州政府认证一个地区是否是区域中心项目能做50万美元投资的高失业(TEA)地区。但是规定没有告诉州政府如何做认证。移民局官员说即使这个地区看起来是低失业地区,但只要州政府认证了,他们无权核实,而只能接受州政府的认证。例如,一个区域中心给移民局提供了一份州政府机构的TEA认证函,说EB-5项目地点符合高失业地区。这个函件解释了该项目地区本身虽然不符合TEA高失业地区标准,但是当重新与其他地区整合后的地区满足了目标就业地区的要求。
 
        由于移民局不明确的规定和政策,移民局不能对区域中心和外国投资者执行一致的标准,审批员可能批准本不该批准的申请。
 
        原文如下:Another example is the designation of high-unemployment areas by state governments. The regulations provide for state governments to designate high unemployment areas for determining whether the EB-5 regional center project qualifies for the lower foreign investment of $500,000. However, the regulations do not instruct the states on how to make the designation. Because of how the regulations are written, USCIS adjudicators said that they must accept what the state designates as a high-unemployment area without validation even when it appears as if these designations are areas of low unemployment. For example, a regional center provided USCIS a letter from its state agency designating that one EB-5 project being built in a prosperous area qualified as being in a high unemployment area. The letter explained that employment data for the requested combination of areas did not qualify for the designation but provided an alternative combination of areas for the project to qualify. The area where the project was being built is included in both combinations. This places doubts on whether program requirements are met, and it allows the foreign investors to invest only $500,000 instead of $1 million to qualify for permanent residency.
 
        As a result of USCIS’ unclear regulations and policy, USCIS is unable to hold regional centers and foreign investors to a consistent standard, and adjudicators may approve applicants and petitioners that do not meet eligibility requirements.
 
        建议1:建议与商务部,劳工部及美国证监会共同起草理解备忘录,提供各种专家,参与区域中心计划和申请的审核!
 
        移民局对建议#2的回复:移民局同意这个建议。6个月内移民局将开发并且贯彻一个联邦各相关部门间的协作计划,详细列出各自的角色和责任。这将包括商务部和证监会。
 
        督察总长办公室分析:移民局的计划应该可以解决该建议。但是,该建议将继续保持open直到我们审核了该协作备忘录。
 
        建议2:执行综合深入的审查以确定EB-5资金实际地刺激了美国经济增长。如果需要,雇佣其他专业人士或与其他联邦机构合作,来辅助和确定结果。
 
        移民局对建议#3的回复:移民局不同意该建议。移民局认为其功能是根据合格标准裁决EB-5申请,包括法定的就业创造要求。移民局回复说这个部分并没有被指控执行更广泛的该计划影响。
 
        英文原文:USCIS did not concur with the recommendation. USCIS stated that its mandate is to adjudicate EB-5 cases according to the eligibility criteria, including the statutory job creation requirements. USCIS responded that the Component is not charged with conducting a broader assessment of the program’s impact. While the Component agreed that an assessment may be beneficial, it did not believe USCIS, as the administering benefits agency, is best positioned to conduct a study.
 
        督察总长办公室分析: 该建议将保持open和没有被解决的状态,直到移民局提供一个行动计划和综合审核计划来确认EB-5投资实际地刺激了美国经济增长。我们意识到移民局对保持该计划满足其所有条件的目标方面面临挑战,需要内部和外部的专业人士。
 
        原文如下:This recommendation will remain open and unresolved until USCIS provides an action plan and evidence of comprehensive reviews scheduled to validate how EB-5 funds have actually stimulated growth in the U.S. economy. Because program results and integrity assurance may be compromised and we identified concerns within the program, our recommendation included the option for USCIS to employ specialists or other Federal agencies to confirm the results of the EB-5 Program. We realize USCIS is facing challenges to ensure the program is meeting its goals and needs assistance and an assessment by internal groups or external specialists.
 
        管理方面的评价和督察总长办公室分析
 
        移民局同意4个建议中的三个。移民局承认额外的法律授权将有助加强该EB-5区域中心试行计划。移民局也对EB-5裁决的一致性,该计划规定缺少明确性,项目欺诈和国家安全等议题很关注。
 
        移民局说从前它没有经济专家来执行独立和彻底的经济模型审查,但是它雇佣了经济学家和公司律师来支持EB-5计划。我们的报告认同移民局雇佣了经济学家参与裁决过程。在我们实地调查开始时,移民局为我们提供了一份机构结构图显示其为了EB-5计划雇佣了7名经济学家。在我们审计过程中,我们确定另外的2名经济学家被移民局雇佣。
 
        在我们实地审查过程中,5名经济学家表达了他们的关注,即他们的经验和专长没有被用到裁决过程中,因为他们不执行任何实质的商业计划分析和预测,而仅仅根据清单,对规定好的问题作出回答。
 
        移民局回复表示其审核了22个区域中心项目中的每一个,认为裁决都是合理的。我们的结论基于我们对记录和证据的分析,我们没有对具体审核的区域中心项目审核作任何建议。
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