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America's Center for Foreign Investment established
Attorney and Civil Law Notary
June 11, 2007, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officially
designated the America's Center for Foreign
Investment, L.L.C. (ACFI-RC) as a southeastern United States
Regional Center. ACFI was established on July 5, 2006, as a limited
liability company for the purpose of applying for designation by USCIS as
a Regional Center.
Alabama Regional Center Project I was announced in Cullman, Alabama, on January 31, 2008, an $8 million investment in a hurricane-resistant modular homes manufacturing plant. The homes are called "Katrina cottages" with reference to the deadly 2005 hurricane that destroyed thousands of homes on the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi and in New Orleans. This project involves 16 South Korean investors.
In 2009, ACFI underwent a huge geographic expansion and name change to America's Center for Foreign Inestment.
Federal law and regulations provide for the establishment of a "Regional Center" to encourage investment by foreign nationals in the United States. Once approved by federal authorities, a Regional Center allows foreign investors to invest their money in qualified Regional Center investment projects in the Southeast to enable them to apply for immigration benefits for themselves and immediate family members (normally spouse and dependent children) in an amount not less than $500,000. The visas are conditionally approved for two years. The basic conditions — that the investor's capital is still at risk, and that at least ten (10) jobs for U.S. workers were created as a result — may be satisfied by presenting further documentation within 90 days prior to the second year of the foreign investor's conditional immigrant visa status in order to obtain permanent resident status in the United States.
Congress has made available 3,000 of 10,000 available immigrant investor visas each fiscal year are set aside for investors who take advantage of Regional Centers, but the number of visas issued has rarely exceeded a few hundred each year, with the exception of 1997, when 436 investors were admitted as conditional residents. ACFI-RC could generate as such as $50 million or more annually in direct foreign investment and create thousands of jobs for Alabamians -- both directly and indirectly -- each year.
as Alabama's officially designated, statewide Regional Center, has identified
a variety of investment projects in rural areas of Alabama that would qualify
under federal regulations for eligible Regional Center projects, and ACFI-RC
will provide services to foreign investors in order to help them with the
federal requirements of this Immigrant Investor Pilot Program (also called
by its immigrant visa category -- EB5).
ACFI-RC uses the economic research services of the Center for Business and Economic Research of the University of Alabama's Culverhouse School of Commerce in order to provide research for individual investors and their immigration lawyers. Dr. Sam Addy serves as Director of the Center and will employ multiplier analyses in connection with ACFI-RC's development projects in order to show the creation of 10 U.S. jobs per immigrant investor.
ACFI-RC also uses the services of the Center for International Business and Economic Development of Troy State University's Sorrell College of Business. Dr. Judson Edwards serves as Director of that Center and assisted ACFI in expanding its geographic area. Mr. Drinkard and I serve on the Center's Advisory Board. Dr. Edwards accepted the position of dean of the Sorrell College of Business at Troy University in May 2010.
ACFI-RC is working closely with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), which was designated by Alabama's governor in 1995 to identify areas of high unemployment -- also called "targeted employment areas" -- in Alabama, in both rural and urban areas. Congress set aside an additional 3,000 immigrant visas for entrepreneurs who invest in targeted employment areas. ACFI-RC has also identified potential Regional Center projects in those areas to bring in badly needed jobs and investment capital.
Evaluating and preparing immigrant visa cases for participants in the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program under the EB5 immigrant visa category represents some of the most difficult and complex legal work an immigration lawyer can undertake. The process is anything but simple, made more difficult by USCIS adjudications and Board of Immigration Appeals decisions. Recently, USCIS has indicated that it will be more careful in handling these cases and, in January 2005, it established the Investor and Regional Center Unit (IRCU) to provide oversight for policy, regulatory development, field guidance, and training, and the USCIS Foreign Trader, Investor & Regional Center Program (FTIRCP) to provide EB5 program oversight and guidance. Congress likes the EB5 program, so it looks like it is here to stay -- even though it sunsets on November 30, 2008.
Because I serve as General Counsel of the Alabama Regional Center and cannot accept individual investor visa petitions with regard to ACFI-RC's Regional Center investment projects, I have put together a team of highly experienced and qualified U.S. immigration lawyers -- none with less than 10 years of experience and all members in good standing of the American Immigration Lawyers Association -- who are available to handle individual immigrant investor cases.
Firms that work with foreign investors and wish to take advantage of the Alabama Regional Center should contact me directly, or our Director, Ron Drinkard, at +334.954.3111.
The establishment of ACFI-RC and the statewide Alabama Regional Center to fully participate in the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program represents an enormous accomplishment, which I owe in large part to ACFI-RC's Director, Ron Drinkard. I have been aware of this "employment-creation visa" program since its inception but elected not to participate in the program or establish an Alabama Regional Center until I was sure the program would work and meet the needs of potential foreign investors. Today the level of foreign investment in Alabama, particularly by Alabama's automobile manufacturers -- Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai -- is truly astounding and has attracted potential foreign investors who wish to use Alabama Regional Center investment projects to obtain permanent resident status in the United States. I could not be more excited about the prospects for the Alabama Regional Center. The responsibilities to serve the foreign investor, the people of Alabama, and carefully manage ACFI-RC under USCIS guidlines will challenge me, and I look forward to meeting the challenge.
Boyd F. Campbell has practiced immigration and nationality law and private international law in Montgomery, Alabama, since 1988. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the Alabama State Bar. He served as Senior Vice-Chair and Chair of the Immigration Law Committee of the American Bar Association's General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Lawyers Section. He also served as Co-Chair for employees of the Immigration Law Committee of the ABA's Labor and Employment Law Section and was a member of the ABA's Coordinating Committee on Immigration Law from 1994 to 1998. He is a founder and served as Chair of the International Law Section of the Alabama State Bar from 2000-2002. He serves as General Counsel of America's Center for Foreign Investment, L.L.C., the nation's largest federally designated Regional Center.
Questions or comments
about this article may be directed to:
Immigration Law Center, L.L.C.
P.O. Box 11032
Montgomery, Alabama 36111-0032 USA
Telephone: (334) 832-9090
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