Here is a reminder regarding amendments, which is worth noting...
In its EB-5 Policy Memorandum of May 30, 2013, USCIS put forward an important change to this requirement. Therefore, when an EB-5 regional center wishes to expand its industry codes, it may now do so with an investor's I-526 submission. As a result, the formal amendment process (and the very significant wait time that it used to imply) is no longer required as a separate action by the regional center. The result is a considerably higher degree of flexibility afforded to regional centers who may wish to expand their geographic or industry sphere of focus.
There is, however, still value, however, to the formal amendment process. The main value is that investors can be more certain of the approval of the new areas of focus when a regional center has received approval of a formal amendment in advance of the investor submitting their I-526.
Ultimately, for the regional center, it is a judgment call whereby the 'saleability’ of a deal would need to be traded off against the delays involved in seeking a formal amendment.
USCIS has also provided some indication (although this appears not to be definitive in how it was presented) that a regional center’s geographic area of focus may also be expanded via an investor's I-526 petition. In order to do so the geographic area must be contiguous with the existing regional center boundaries and would require a justification for expansion to the new boundaries. Similar to what has been described above for expansion of industries of focus, investors will be taking a risk that the justification provided will be accepted by USCIS.
Phil Cohen is the founder and President of Strategic Element, a company that focuses on developing regional centers, EB-5 business plans, economic impact reports, feasibility studies and custom 'direct' EB-5 projects for its clients (www.strategicelementconsulting.com).