The EB-5 Program lapsed for a short period of time at the end of 2018 because the government shut down. At that time, the Program was shut down for about 35 days from December 22, 2018 until January 25, 2019. Statutory authorization for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program lapsed on June 30, 2021.
Even though this lapse in authorization does not concern investors who have filed I-526 petitions that are not looking for visas under the Regional Center Program, it does have an effect on other applicants who have filed or tried to file related forms on or after July 1, 2021. Consequently, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it would not accept form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, when the investor’s investment is connected with an approved regional center.
USCIS will decline Forms I-924 and I-526
As stated above, due to the lapse in statutory authority for the Regional Center Program, USCIS has begun declining the following forms:
- Form I-924 – Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program (unless the application is simply to change the regional center’s name, organizational structure, ownership, or administration),
- Form I-526 – Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, when it indicates that the petitioner’s investment is associated with an approved regional center.
The consequences of the EB-5 regional center program authorization lapse
At a glance, the USCIS will not accept new petitions associated with a regional center or approve any new regional centers.
USCIS will not act on any pending petition or application of these form types that is dependent on a lapsed statutory authority until further notice. If USCIS issued written correspondence (REF) about a petition or application on or before June 30, 2021, the applicant (investor) should review the written correspondence (REF) and respond by the due date (as applicable). Although the USCIS cannot evaluate the applicant’s response at this time, the USCIS will receive and maintain the response for review if circumstances change.
Applicants who already received their EB-5 visas will see no impact of the authorization lapse regarding the Regional Center Program. USCIS will continue to accept Forms I-829 from these investors, even if filed after June 30, 2021.
What is re-authorization of the EB-5 regional center?
Reauthorization refers to the official extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Program. Please note that this is different from direct investments through EB-5, which is a permanent provision under the law and is not subject to sunset. The EB-5 Program was created in 1993 for a finite period of 5 years and has been extended several times.
The future of the EB-5 regional center program
It is up to Congress to take steps to reauthorize the EB-5 Regional Center Program, hopefully soon (October, 2021 or maximum by the end of the current year). We believe that the lapse in authorization is only temporary, as the EB-5 regional center program is an essential part of driving economic growth as the program infuses investment into the country and creates jobs. Discussions surrounding the EB-5 program at the congressional level go on. The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act, which would have reauthorized the program, are being considered. Thus, prospective EB-5 investors should take advantage of the temporary lapse in authorization by continuing to work on their I-526 petitions and obtaining the documents necessary to support that petition.
National Visa Center (NVC) delays processing of I-526 petitions
The National Visa Center (NVC) of the US Department of State has started to throw emails to pending EB-5 immigrant investors that it will not take processing action relating to EB-5 regional center applications during the lapse of the program.
Starting September 8, 2021, the online portal for (NVC) of the US Department of State has discontinued further processing of EB-5 regional center cases including payment of NVC fee bills, submission of DS-260 (Immigration) Forms and supporting biographic documents.
Sample script of the notification on the portal is set out below:
“Please be advised that the case that you have attempted to access is not eligible for further processing by the National Visa Center at this time. Please contact the National Visa Center if you believe that you have received this message in error.”
October 2021 visa bulletin
The Non-Regional Center program will be current for all countries except China. China will remain at November 22, 2015. The EB-5 Regional Center program has expired and is listed as unavailable in the Visa Bulletin. If reauthorized, the Regional Center program will reflect the Non-Regional Center final action dates.
The EB-5 Regional Center program is listed as “unavailable” in the October Visa Bulletin. Immigrant visa issuance and adjustment of status adjudications under this category ceased after the close of business on June 30.
Dates for filing for October 2021
Current for most countries, but no forward movement expected for China.
China: December 15, 2015
All other countries: Current
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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.
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