USCIS appeals decision reducing cash for green card

Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security .Last minute move indicates agency wants to restore EB-5 investment minimums to the levels set in the 2019 rule

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has filed an appeal against a US District Court ruling invalidating a 2019 rule that increased the minimum investment amount from $500,000 to $900,000 for EB-5 investor visa.

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the Northern District of California had on June 22 given the ruling in the matter of Behring Regional Center challenging the increase in investment requirements under the EB-5 program, also known as cash-for green card.

This latest move by USCIS indicates that the agency wants to restore EB-5 investment minimums to the levels set in the 2019 rule.

“This is a significant development for EB-5 investment,” said Sam Silverman, co-founder and managing partner EB5 Affiliate Network (EB5AN), a leading EB-5 investment fund manager, regional center operator, and consultancy.

“Judge Corley’s ruling in June was just. At a $500,000 investment amount, US residency is much more accessible. Indeed, the Judge’s decision really democratized EB-5 and the response has been huge,” he said in a press release.

Read: Green card backlog community seeks inclusion in reconciliation package (August 26, 2021)

“So many people who have worked hard and saved money—but do not have $900,000—now have hope of getting green cards for their families. A successful appeal by USCIS could take away that hope,” Silverman added.

Investors will need to act quickly. While the appellate process will take some time, it’s clear that USCIS wants higher minimum investment amounts, the release noted.

In addition to a favorable ruling in federal appeals court, USCIS can also move to reimplement the 2019 rule through an administrative process, it said.

Silverman emphasized that investors shouldn’t wait. “Anyone thinking of making an investment needs to take steps now to get their funds in place and begin the paperwork. The window of opportunity to invest at $500,000 is closing even faster than many had guessed. Time is short.”

The EB-5 Modernization Rule increased the minimum investment amount from $500,000 to $900,000 if the project is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and from $1 million to $1.8 million if outside of a TEA.

No motion for a stay order was filed with the appeal, which implies that the USCIS would continue to accept petitions under the direct investment program with an investment amount of $500,000.

If the Appellate Court disagrees with the order of the district court, the 2019 EB-5 Modernization regulations may be put back in place and the higher investment norms would apply.

Read: A window opens to get EB-5 visa with lower investment (June 23, 2021)

Created in 1990, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa has long been a gateway to the United States for foreign nationals living abroad, as well as by those already working or studying in the US on nonimmigrant visas including H-1B, L-1B, and F-1.

Thousands of families from all over the world have successfully immigrated by making a job-creating investment in a US-based business enterprise.

The EB-5 program has facilitated billions of dollars of foreign direct investment into the United States and created tens of thousands of jobs over the last three decades.

Read: USCIS Appeal Sparks Speculation About The EB-5 Foreign Investor Program (August 30, 2021)

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