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U.S. EB-5 Program

PRESIDENT TRUMP'S TRAVEL BAN AND (EB-5)

31 January 2018

PRESIDENT TRUMP'S TRAVEL BAN AND (EB-5)
EB-5 investors must invest USD 1million in a project which creates at least 10 jobs or USD 500,000 in a rural or high-unemployment area. Each year, 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued in the United States, with 90% being awarded to applicants from China. Congress is set to review the EB-5 program before it expires on 08 February 2018 . Proposals include a change in the minimum sum to be invested.

What Trump travel ban may mean to EB5
 
Everyone is reading the news about President Trump’s executive order “travel ban” for people “from” the previously identified seven “countries of concern”: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  The relevant agencies are ordered to comprehend a complete set of screening efforts for visitors and immigrants.  The agencies are also going to to figure out what information is needed from home country governments and whether those governments will provide that information.
 
What are the implications for EB-5? 
 
USCIS has issued an internal memo stating that (apart from of any legal challenges) Trump’s order does not affect any USCIS adjudications, which includes I-526 petitions, extension or change of temporary stay within the U.S. (such as visitors, students, H-1B, etc.), adjustment of status to conditional resident for those with approved I-526 and available visa number, I-829 to remove conditions on residence, and naturalization– even for people from the seven countries.  One could expect USCIS officers to be at least a little more careful about adjudicating applications for people from the seven countries, but one already could have expected that, as anyone with an Iranian investor could confirm.
 
Approvals for the EB-5 program jumped 65% from 2015 to 2016, according to the USCIS, the government agency that handles EB-5 applications. Since 2012, the EB-5 program has reportedly brought in an estimated $8.7 billion and created more than 35,000 jobs according to USCIS. 
 
The latest figures available show that 28 Iranians and 9 Syrians were issued EB-5 visas in FY2016.  150 Iranian investors filed I-526 petitions in FY2015, and it is unclear whether the difference between 150 and 28 represents a low approval rate for Iranians or a long delay in adjudication, or both. Less than 30 investors from the other six countries combined filed I-526 petitions in FY2015, and 18 of those were from Syrians. 
 
Can president trump travel ban impact the EB-5 application processing/approval?

The updated information doesn’t have any specific affects pertaining to the EB-5 visa program, unless the applicant is from the countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen . However, the travel ban’s increased scrutiny on foreign nationals still remains. EB-5 applicants can still expect further questioning and may also need to hand over their social media account information before given the chance of approval for their EB-5 visa. 
 
Final thoughts

The travel ban is in effect from President Trump blocking the issuance of all immigrant visa applications for Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen nationals.  Approved I-526 investors will have to submit Form DS-5535, Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants . This is now a standard form the Consulates are requesting from all applicants who fall under the travel ban. However, a number of reports say that these cases are likely to stay denied until the Supreme Court makes a final decision on the travel ban which we expect in the next few months.  

We will continue to monitor the new procedure for U.S. visa applicants closely and carefully.

For more information on the U.S. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, please click here.

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