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The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program: Will U.S. Congress Allow it to Expire?

usa program | regional centers | US Green Card | EB-5 Extension | USA EB-5 Program | Donald Trump & Immigration | Donald Trump & EB-5 Program | EB-5 Continuing Resolution | E-2 Investor Visa |
April 25, 2017

As of Friday, April 28, 2017, the U.S. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is set to expire once again. In the three decades of the program’s existence, the United States Congress has extended the popular immigration scheme every 3 years for 3-year periods since it was first established in 1992. The EB-5 Program officially expired in the early 2000s, but was eventually renewed with a number of reforms under the Basic Pilot Program Extension and Expansion Act of 2003 to help revive it. The EB-5 Program continued to thrive throughout the Obama administration, and was again granted an extension prior to Donald Trump taking office. Clearly, the United States has a vested interest in the continuation of the “temporary” immigration program geared towards foreign investment into the U.S. economy.

Indeed, the end of the first quarter for 2017 has continued to provide opportunities for business expansion in the U.S. market, as well as offer foreign investors a chance to obtain U.S. Green Cards (permanent residency) in exchange for a substantial capital investment through the EB-5 Program. Despite hopeful prospects of continued economic growth and expansion for the U.S. economy, many people—Americans and foreign investors alike—are left wondering what the future holds for U.S. immigration, or even travel for work or pleasure.

While the Trump administration’s stance on immigration reform remains in limbo due to two failed travel bans placed on Muslim-majority nations, the U.S. remains a preferred haven for foreign investors to establish or finance local businesses and projects.

In fact, foreign interest in the EB-5 Program and E-2 Treaty Investor Visa has continued to rise, even with the Trump administration’s attempts to change the country’s immigration laws. This may be a result of U.S. visa categories remaining unscathed by immigration reform, and perhaps for good reason: the Trump family has personally benefitted from U.S. immigration programs that have funded large-scale property developments as a result of EB-5 Program investors. However, this has not prevented foreign investors from expressing concern over the possible elimination of U.S. immigration visa programs altogether, even if it’s an unlikely scenario. For more than 70 countries that participate in the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa with the U.S. for instance, such as the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Spain, and Grenada, withdrawing from the treaty would undoubtedly be an unpopular move in the eyes of E-2 treaty countries, the American public, and particularly U.S. citizens that take advantage of establishing a business overseas in reciprocal E-2 treaty nations. It’s safe to assume the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa will remain intact, but what does this mean for the fate of the EB-5 Program?

Originally, the EB-5 Program was set to expire in December 2016, but was once again granted a reprieve from formally ending, and without any changes to the program’s requirements or investment amount. Currently, applicants to the EB-5 Program can make a capital investment of USD $500,000 in a designated Regional Center, which must also create 10 full-time jobs for American workers. In exchange, successful applicants and their qualifying family members are provided U.S. Green Cards (permanent residency). For foreign investors and entrepreneurs, entry to the U.S. through the EB-5 Program remains of high interest, even with the program’s looming expiration date.

Should the program be extended by U.S. Congress once more, the EB-5 Program will certainly face reform and revisions to the required investment amount, namely increasing the minimum investment to USD $1.35 million for Regional Centers located in high unemployment areas and USD $1.8 million for other locations. While the substantial increase in the investment amount might be unappealing for some, business immigration to the U.S. through the EB-5 Program remains a viable opportunity for those who can afford it.

Even with the EB-5 Program set to expire on Friday, it’s safe to say there is too much at stake to lose without another extension. Since 1992, the EB-5 Program has contributed to the overall GDP in the U.S. ranging in billions, with figures totaling nearly 6 billion in capital investments for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years, according to an assessment released in January 2017 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) of the Department of Commerce (DOC). Without question, the potential loss of foreign investment through the EB-5 Program will certainly factor in the U.S. Congress’ decision to issue another continuing resolution.

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

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