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U.S. EB-5 Program

What is the future of the EB-5 investor visa?

 QICMS

Published   01:53 PM 27 April 2021
Updated    02:01 PM 27 April 2021

What is the future of the EB-5 investor visa?

Congress initiated the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program in 1990 with the objective of motivating capital investment and job creation from foreign investors. Managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program gives a path to United States citizenship for immigrants who make an investment of certain amount of money and create jobs within the United States. In 1992, Congress launched the EB-5 Regional Center Program. The EB-5 regional center is an economic unit, public or private, in the United States that is involved with promoting economic growth. Regional centers are designated by USCIS for participation in the Immigrant Investor Program.

 

The EB-5 Program, known by the United States EB-5 visa, employment based fifth preference category or EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program, has over its three-decade continuation grown into a significant source of investment in United States development projects. The EB-5 program has brought in over USD $41 billion in capital investment at no cost to the American taxpayer, USD $20.6 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) saving and creating thousands of American jobs.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has undergone a series of harsh changes since November 21, 2019; most drastically the minimum investment amount was increased from USD $500,000 to USD $900,000. The minimum investment amount is even higher in non-Targeted Employment Areas (USD $1.8 million).

With the increase in investment amount, interest in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program declined considerably. This decline in interest, coupled with a new USCIS policy that led to petitions being adjudicated based on a visa availability approach (as opposed to a first-in, first-out approach) is reflected in the visa bulletin.

As the United States of America searches for opportunities to spur economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EB-5 visa program, with its job creation requirements, seems like a rational alternative. Nevertheless, recent developments have put the EB-5 visa program at risk.

How does the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program work?
 

Here's how the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program works: The EB-5 Immigrant allows foreign nationals to immigrate and obtain U.S. residence by investing a minimum of USD $900,000 into development projects in “targeted investment areas.” To be eligible for one of 10,000 EB-5 visas available each fiscal year, immigrants may invest directly in a job-generating development, or invest through an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Centers approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

EB-5 Authorization
 

Usually, the EB-5 regional center program has been tied to Congress’ omnibus spending bill. This means that at any time Congress passes the omnibus bill, the EB-5 regional center program would automatically be re-authorized. While the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 extended the program through June 30, 2021, it disjointed EB-5 re-authorization from future omnibus bills. This means that Congress must re-authorize the EB-5 regional center program as a standalone bill.

While the benefits of the EB-5 Program are well known, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has undergone substantial media coverage. Anti-immigration rhetoric is also playing a part in the debate. Jointly, this makes EB-5 re-authorization in June 2021 uncertain.

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act
 

If not renewed by Congress, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is set to expire on June 30, 2021. The EB-5 Reform and Integrity bill, introduced by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) aims at, among other goals, program reauthorization.

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have introduced the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act. The bill provides for a number of critical changes that would likely safeguard the EB-5 program’s longevity. The changes include a five-year authorization for the EB-5 Regional Center Program, protections for innocent investors who have invested into disbarred projects, and increased oversight for regional center programs. The EB-5 Stakeholders have welcomed the bill, with the understanding that increased oversight will lend more credibility to the EB-5 visa program and appease the program’s detractors. The economic effects of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic provide compelling grounds for both re-authorization and reforms.

Final Thoughts
 

Long-term (five-year) reauthorization for the EB-5 visa program would bring stability to Regional Centers, lawyers and investors, enabling stakeholders to be away from stress concerning how long the EB-5 visa program will be in place. The EB-5 Regional Center program capital provides a safe revenue source for developers and the EB-5 industry.

Quebec Investment Consultation and Management Services LLC (QICMS) will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide any new information as it becomes available.

QICMS provides valuable opportunities for foreign investors and their families members to obtain permanent U.S. residency (Green Card) through the EB-5 Program.

Interested in moving to the U.S.? Our firm will help you find a legitimate Regional Center to maximize your probability of success through the EB-5 program. We will guide you every step of the application process, straight through to obtaining your unconditional permanent residence. Contact us today.

For more information on the EB-5 program and its eligibility requirements, please click here.

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