What is Happening to the EB-5 Investor Visa Program? How Will the Reauthorization Affect Foreign Nationals Who Want to Invest in the United States?

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a green card option for an immigrant entrepreneur that would like to buy an existing business, start a business (Direct Investment) or invest in a job creation project such as large construction projects including hotels, railways and stadiums (Regional Center). The program was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.

To learn more about the six steps required to file an EB-5 application in its current format, click here.

In its current format, the Regional Center program requires that the applicant invest $500,000 to $1,000,000 in a regional center project, depending on the location of the business or project, and this investment must create at least 10 full-time jobs. On September 30th 2016, the program is up for reauthorization. This means that Congress can choose to extend the program in its current format, let the program expire (sunset), or revamp the program.

What changes should we expect?

Some legislators see reauthorization as an opportunity to retool the program to ensure that the investments are used as intended by Congress – to help stimulate economic growth – particularly in economically depressed areas; increase oversight; and address national security issues.

The most significant change to the program will likely be an increase in the investment amount required, raising the minimum to $800,000 to a ceiling of $1,200,000. A bill that was recently proposed also seeks to eliminate the role of foreign governments in the program and make it less vulnerable to routine fraud.

To learn more about other proposed changes, click here.

What does this mean for an immigrant investor?

At this point, it is not clear what will happen to the program, but what we know is that there has been an exponential increase in media attention and coverage about the program. Thus, there are indications that Congress will likely act to overhaul the program. This means that it may make the EB-5 green card more difficult to get and current projects may have to spend significant time and resources to comply with the new requirements. Others think that the program will lapse, while other advocates expect an extension, pushing the reauthorization to the next post-election lame duck session of Congress. Stay tuned as we monitor these developments and keep you informed.

For more practical information and legal advice on E-2 and other visas, contact Scott Legal, P.C. Call 212-223-2964 or email info@legalservicesincorporated.com for a consultation.

Angela Antonia Torregoza, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Scott Legal, P.C. She can be reached at 212-223-2964 or by email at info@legalservicesincorporated.com.

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