Author: Julia Yong-hee Park
In the May 30, 2013 Memo, the USCIS gave regional centers the option to add on new geographic regions and NAICS codes without seeking a formal amendment. This allowed greater flexibility for regional centers to pursue different types of investment projects. However, recently there is indication that the USCIS has gone a step further with regards to NAICS codes and have completely taken them out of the regional center designation equation.
Before November 2010
Before the Form I-924 for regional center applications were introduced in 2010, the USCIS did not collect NAICS code data for regional center. Discussion of industry clusters in approval letters of regional centers that were approved prior to the introduction of the Form I-924 looked like this:
Then approval letters that came out of the California Service Center after the Form I-924 was introduced in 2010 looked like this:
Notice how the title says “Regional Center Designation” and then breaks out the “Geographic Area” and the “Industry Categories”.
Because the USCIS insisted on this very strict NAICS designation and at the time it took almost 18 months to get an amendment to a designation, it was very difficult for regional centers to take advantage of different investment opportunities. For example, a regional center that had successfully raised funds for a hotel could not take on a school project until the designation was amended to include the NAICS code for school. For a while the USCIS even tried to limit regional center investment activities by insisting on 6 digit NAICS codes thereby narrowing the scope of the approval.
After May 2013
Then in 2013, in the May 30 Memo, the USCIS said: