The EB-5 program has long been a source of contention and consternation among powerful investors. However, the EB-5 program has a positive track record, it has also had its fair share of problems and controversies that many investors find difficult to understand.
The program has been put on “pause” because the deadline for extending the visa by the US Congress expired on June 30. EB-5 investors who want to invest in a non-regional center can continue to file I-526 petitions for provisional and unconditional green cards.
Please keep in mind that the EB-5 regional center program is the only one that has expired. However, it is also true that, over the last decade, the majority of applications have been submitted solely through regional centers. These applicants are affected by the Covid-19 lapse.
To renew the Regional Centre EB-5 program, a proposed law includes an EB-5 investor immigration component. There is speculation that a minimum investment of $7,50,000 will be required in all EB-5 programs.
Investors can come to the United States temporarily while their EB-5 petitions are being processed. They will also have access to a premium processing option. If the bill is passed, the USCIS will reopen and accept new applications.
Many stakeholders are hoping that the EB-5 regional center will be attached to the continuing resolution soon and that the program will be reauthorized.
It is anticipated that the reauthorization will take place in February 2022. It’s also possible that the deadline will be pushed back another 2-3 months. This will be determined by the Senate’s action on the consensus draught.
Furthermore, other members have also endorsed the Grassley-Leahy bill to address fraud and national security vulnerabilities in the EB-5 investor visa Regional Centre Program, which has been exploited and abused for years. Applicants should be assured that the EB-5 regional center program will not be phased out.
The program will continue to be an important component of the United States’ economic development. The EB-5 industry has been very assertive in working with Congress and key decision-makers to make appropriate program amendments and fix flaws that invite fraudulent practices. The most common concern raised by foreign investors is the status of pending I-526 petitions.
On October 4, USCIS updated its website and informed users of the EB-5 Regional Centre Program’s current lapse. It also acknowledged that no applications for the regional center would be accepted unless Congress reauthorized the program.
The same is true for Form I-485 applications that seek to change one’s status to permanent residence. USCIS also stated that any Form I-526 and I-485 applications that are awaiting approval as of June 30, will be placed on hold until December 31.
The USCIS will monitor these applications based on the status of legislation in the United States Congress. If Congress does not reauthorize the program by December 31, the USCIS may dismiss pending I-526 petitions.
Congress, on the other hand, may pass a new EB-5 bill while addressing the problem of grandfathering current investors. They are in the process of completing their application based on the rules that were in place prior to the lapse. The immigrant investor must put up enough money to start a new business that employs at least ten Americans.
They must invest a minimum of $10,00,000 in general or $5,00,000 in a specific employment area. This applies to petitions submitted before November 21, 2019. Following this date, the amounts are $18,00,000 or $9,00,000, respectively, and will increase automatically on October 1, 2024, and every five years thereafter. Because of the lapse, all direct EB-5 petitions will be affected.
All regional centers have ceased operations due to the program’s expiration or until it is reinstated. Every year, 10,000 visas are issued, and no country receives more than 7% of all visas or 700 slots. While China has long been the most significant source of EB-5 petitions, applications from India have increased since 2017.
As a result, if the program is reauthorized, applicants will not face a quota backlog. Despite the fact that the quota backlog will be significant, USCIS will continue to process them in accordance with the most recent amendments.