Last week, QICMS posted a blog announcing a week-long temporary extension of the U.S. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program to May 5, 2017. The United States Congress granted the continuing resolution before the EB-5 Program was set to officially terminate on April 28, 2017. While many stakeholders expressed concern about whether or not it would finally expire after the new May 5 deadline, U.S. Congress announced on Thursday the extension of the EB-5 Program to September 30, 2017.
The recent EB-5 extensions are a string of many that have been passed by U.S. Congressional leaders since the program was introduced in 1990 as a means to stimulate the American economy. In nearly three decades of its existence, the EB-5 Program has gained popularity with wealthy foreign nationals seeking immigration solutions to the United States through capital investment.
Thursday’s Congressional decision was part and parcel to a USD 1.1 trillion government spending bill passed by the U.S. Senate for the fiscal year, which also included another lifeline for the EB-5 Program over the next five months. With the five-month extension, industry lawmakers and advocates are expected to continue negotiations for long-awaited EB-5 reforms that include changes in program regulations and investment requirements.
For the last two years, the U.S. Congress has simply passed continuing resolutions for the EB-5 without including legislative changes to the program itself. The as-is extensions have generated an increasing amount of criticism towards the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which oversees operations of the EB-5 Program. With the September 30 extension, USCIS and lawmakers are making a genuine effort to implement reform measures sooner than later, according to EB-5 Program officials. Several issues that will be tackled include stricter oversight of EB-5 projects, changes to investment amounts, and addressing visa processing inefficiencies within the program.
Despite EB-5 Program regulations remaining unchanged, the USCIS made a recent announcement that a new EB-5 processing center is opening to better improve the current system, which sets aside an annual 10,000 visas for EB-5 applicants and their family members. Although it’s too early to tell if and when actual reform measures will be passed by lawmakers, the EB-5 Program is set to continue its normal operations over the course of the next several months.
At present, the EB-5 Program requires foreign nationals to invest a minimum of USD $500,000 in economic projects, or Regional Centers located in rural or high unemployment areas throughout the United States. The investor and his or her immediate family members can obtain a U.S. Green Card in exchange for the capital investment. While a number of the investments have contributed to EB-5 projects such as Florida Charter Schools, a large amount have also funded luxury developments such as brand-name hotels in major metropolitan areas of New York and California.
However, if lawmakers are able to reach an agreement on reform measures for the EB-5 Program before the September 30 deadline, it’s more than likely the minimum investment amount will be raised to USD 1.35 million. For many involved in EB-5 projects, the program’s continuation provides American worker, local development companies, and the U.S. economy billions of dollars each year through foreign investment. Even with substantially higher investment amounts looming on the horizon, the U.S. EB-5 Program is anticipated to remain an integral route for high net worth individuals and their families seeking entry to the United States.
For more information on the U.S. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, please click here.
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