In this article, we will review everything that is currently known about the program for investment immigration in the United States.
As a reminder, an EB-5 visa is issued to obtain U.S. citizenship through an investment of several hundred thousand dollars. Learn more about requirements and benefits on our dedicated page about the EB-5 program.
Is the program on hold? What does it mean?
There are two possible investment options for the EB-5 program: directly or through a regional center. Direct investment entails full responsibility to establish a business in the United States and the necessity to guarantee the creation of at least 10 jobs. An investment through a regional center allows the investor to shift this responsibility to an organization that has already selected a suitable business project. According to statistics of issued EB-5 visas for the 2020 fiscal year, 93% of them were issued through the regional center.
Formally, the EB-5 program continues to function, but at the end of June 2021, there was one important change that affected most of the investors who want to use the program. At the meeting of the U.S. Congress on June 24, 2021, one of the senators protested against the unanimous adoption of the proposal to extend the EB-5 program for regional centers.
Because of this, since July 2021, the program of regional centers effectively ceased to operate. The USCIS is currently rejecting applications for Forms I-924, I-526, and I-485. All petitions that have already been submitted are frozen until the end of 2021, when the immigration authorities will make a new decision.
As for the investors who want to invest directly, they have now the most favorable conditions. The cancellation of the regional centers program did not affect the direct investment program in any way. Moreover, thanks to another change that happened almost simultaneously, it became much cheaper to invest directly - more on that below.
What do the changes in the price of the EB-5 program mean?
On June 22, 2021, the California District Court overturned the modernization rule introduced on November 21, 2019. The Behring Regional Center initiated the upgrade lawsuit, so the case is dubbed the Behring decision in the news.
The modernization rule increased the minimum investment from $500,000 to $900,000 for projects in targeted employment areas and from $1 million to $1.8 million for all other projects. Now the modernization rule has been canceled, and the minimum costs have returned to the levels of $500 thousand and $1 million, respectively.
Accordingly, applying for the EB-5 program through independent investments has literally become twice cheaper - the minimum investment is now $500 thousand.
When to expect further changes?
By the end of December 2021, the US Immigration Service promises to decide how to deal with already submitted petitions as part of the EB-5 program for regional centers. However, it is not known if the US Congress will meet again to decide on the renewal of the program. The extension of the program may drag on in 2022.
It is also unknown if the minimum investment will remain at the level before the modernization rule. Experts expect an increase back to the threshold of $900 thousand, there are also talks of a possible increase in the threshold to $700 thousand.
Stay tuned on EB-5 news!
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U.S. Department of State, Report of the Visa Office 2020
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program