EB-5 investor program extension might result in ‘short spurt’ in applications

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The program was extended through December 8, 2017, as part of the HR 601

Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security .uscis

The EB-5 visa program, which allows qualified foreign investors green cards, has been extended through December 8, 2017.

The extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Program beyond the end of the federal fiscal year was part of H.R. 601, the “Continuing Appropriation Act.” which provided an additional $15.25 million in emergency appropriations for disaster relief. It was signed by President Donald Trump last Friday.

The measure brings some clarity to those investors who are in the process of making investments in the United States, but were held back because of the uncertainties.

A vast majority of EB-5 investors have been Chinese nationals. However, in recent years, Indians also have applied for the visa in significant numbers.

Rohit Kapuria, an associate with the law firm Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, told the American Bazaar that the extension has given a new opportunity for investors from India to file EB-5 petitions before guidelines change at the end of the year.

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The visa program has been controversial, and some members of Congress have called for its elimination. Bills proposing changes to the program are currently before Congress, and it is quite likely that it will pass legislation before the December 8 expiration date.

“It is important to note that the talk of changes began in 2015,” Kapuria said in an email. “Since then, several members of Congress issued various legislative proposals, some favorable and some unfavorable, to modify the existing rules and particularly, increase the minimum investment amount from $500,000 to $800,000 or more.”

Now with the program’s extension last week, there might be a spurt in applications.

“The extension of the EB-5 program, until December 8, 2017, has given our Indian investor clients some reprieve and will likely result in another short spurt of investors looking to file petitions before possible changes at the end of the year,” said Kapuria.

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However, the lawyer urged Congress to pass reform measures.

“Short extensions, like the recent December 8 extension, have and continue to create a run on the market,” Kapuria said. “But in the long run, it is important for Congress to issue favorable and permanent changes. While investors certainly do not want an increased investment amount, this change is inevitable. For investors currently on the fence, it is important to pull the trigger quickly and move forward.”

Kapuria, who specializes in the private offerings under the EB-5 investor visa program, urged investors planning for EB-5 to act immediately as the benefits of EB-5 are far more beneficial than other visa programs.

Terming the program as “a very important and necessary immigration program,” he said its benefits “are indisputable.” The lawyer added: “EB-5 brings in billions of dollars into the US economy, creates thousands of jobs, allows projects to move forward and provides green cards to thousands of families each year. EB-5 works and EB-5 visas have created tens of thousands of job industry as investors have pumped billions of dollars into the US economy.”

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Kapuria, whose firm is actively working to develop EB-5 markets in India and Gulf countries, said for “Indian citizens in particular, the path to a green card continues to get longer under the EB-2 & EB-3 programs; EB-5 offers an attractive and shorter path to permanent residency.”

H.R. 601 provided an additional $15.25 billion in emergency appropriations for disaster relief and extends the authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program through December 8th.