Minimum investment amount for EB-5 projects raised to $1,050,000 and to $800,000 for targeted employment areas
Rich Indians looking for ways to get a US green card or permanent residence permit have the investment route reopened with the US Congress reviving the EB-5 Regional Center Program.
President Joe Biden signed into law on March 11 the appropriations legislation passed by Congress late Thursday that also reauthorizes through Fiscal Year 2027 the program expired since June 30, 2021.
About 80,000 investors largely from China followed by India had been caught in a limbo as the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had stopped processing of their green card applications with the expiry of the program.
Read: Indians received 17% of all EB-5 investor visas in 2020 (December 28, 2021)
However, the new law increases the minimum investment amount for EB-5 projects to $1,050,000, from $1,000,000 and to $800,000, from $500,000 for targeted employment areas (TEAs). The minimum investment for infrastructure projects will be $800,000.
Foreign investors will also be required to pay a new $1,000 fee that will be allocated to the Integrity Fund.
The new law permits good-faith investors to complete the permanent residence process despite the termination or debarment of an EB-5 entity or Regional Center, or in the event that the Regional Center Program expires in the future.
With the reauthorization, USCIS will be able to accept new Regional Center filings and continue to adjudicate pending cases that were suspended after last year’s program expiration
But it is not yet clear when the agency will do so. An announcement is expected in the coming weeks, according to Fragomen, a New York headquartered leading immigration law firm.
In a recent tweet, the American Immigrant Investor Alliance (AIIA) had predicted “that the EB-5 Regional Center program will be reauthorized with the Omnibus on March 15, 2022 according to Forbes.
Ishaan Khanna, co-founder of the American Immigrant Investor Alliance, which represents the interests of EB-5 investors, had also warned of a “bank run” if EB-5 investors had their green cards denied because of the program’s expiration.
“Instead, if the bill is passed, investor immigrants will be able to return to helping build the American economy through investing in the revised program,” he was quoted as saying.
Read: EB-5 investor visa program sees continued delay (December 6, 2021)
Under the new law investors for whom an EB-5 immigrant visa is immediately available will be permitted to file their EB-5 petitions at the same time as their applications for adjustment of status to permanent residence, or file an adjustment with a pending EB-5 petition.
This will enable them to obtain employment authorization and travel permission while their cases are pending.
The new law directs USCIS to give processing priority to EB-5 petitions for investment in rural areas. Regional Centers will be subject to regular audits and enhanced record keeping obligations.
They will also be obligated to pay an annual fee of $20,000 (or $10,000 for Regional Centers with 20 or fewer investors) that will be allocated to an EB-5 Integrity Fund.
The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, reauthorizing the EB-5 Regional Center Program through September 30, 2027, is part of the FY 2022 federal appropriations legislation signed by Biden.
The law prohibits the denial of a petition based on the expiration of the program and directs the agency to continue to allocate immigrant visa numbers to petitioners whose Regional Center-based cases were filed before September 30, 2026.
Under regulations that were ultimately vacated by a federal court, the EB-5 investment minimum was increased to $1,800,000 for standard EB-5 investments and $900,000 for TEAs from Nov 19, 2019 until June 22, 2021.
Beginning January 1, 2027, and every five years thereafter, the minimum investment amount for standard EB-5 projects will be subject to increases keyed to the Consumer Price Index.
For TEAs and infrastructure projects, the minimum investment amount will be increased to 60% of the standard investment minimum.
Allocation of EB-5 immigrant visas
The new law sets aside 32% of the annual EB-5 immigrant visa quota for specific types of EB-5 projects:
20% of EB-5 immigrant visas are reserved for foreign nationals who invest in a rural area of the United States;
10% are reserved for foreign nationals investing in a high unemployment area as designated by USCIS;
2% are reserved for investors in a new category for qualifying infrastructure projects administered by a federal, state or local government entity.
Read: Congress Close to Raising the EB-5 Program from the Dead: 8 Recent EB-5 Reforms that Real Estate Developers and Project Sponsors Should Know (March 10, 2022)
If there are unused visas in any of the three listed subcategories, those visas will be made available in the same category during the succeeding fiscal year.
If not used in the succeeding fiscal year, they will be added to the overall EB-5 quota in the following fiscal year.