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EB-5 Regional Center Program Reauthorized

By March 11, 2022March 14th, 2022EB-5 Visa, Immigration
A pile of money

On June 30, 2021, the EB-5 Regional Center Program was suspended when Congress could not reach an extension agreement. The EB-5 program, also known as the Million Dollar Green Card, allows investors to obtain a green card if they invest $800,000 or $1,050,000 in businesses or projects that will create 10 full time jobs. The program has remained in limbo since June, as USCIS has also suspended all review and processing of all regional center related Form I-526, Form I-485, and consulate processing applications and request for evidence responses.

On March 11, 2022, Congress passed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, officially reauthorizing the EB-5 regional center program. The program has been reauthorized for 5 years, until September 30, 2027. The reform act brings many changes to the regional center program, as explained below:

New Minimum Investment Amount

The new minimum investment amount for a project located in a Targeted Employment Areas (rural areas or those designated as having an unemployment rate of at least 150% the national average). is $800,000. The minimum investment amount for a project not located in a TEA is $1,050,000. This is an increase from the original EB-5 investment amounts of $500,000 and $1 million, but a decrease from the original EB-5 revamp act passed during the Trump administration of $900,000 and $1.8 million.

The current investments amount of $800,000 and $1,050,000 will remain constant for the next 5 years until January 1, 2027. Starting from 2027, and every 5 years thereafter, the investment amount will adjust based on a formular using the Consumer Price Index.

Target Employment Area

Under the new rules, TEAs determined by the Department of Homeland Security. TEA designations are active for two years and can be renewed for successive two-year periods. To qualify as a TEA, the average unemployment rate for the census tract(s) in which the project is located and any contiguous census tracts must be 150% of the national average. Rural areas continue to qualify as TEAs. Infrastructure projects may also qualify as TEAs if they meet certain criteria.

New Source of Funds Requirements

The new act now requires that not only the investment capital requires source of funds documents, but all administrative fees (including regional center fees, legal fees, and USCIS filing fees) associated with the investment will also have to be included in the source of funds explanation.  You can find out more about the EB-5 source of funds requirements by clicking here.

How Does This Impact Applications Submitted Before June 30, 2021

Applications submitted prior to June 30, 2021 have been held in limbo since USCIS stopped the processing of Form I-526 petitions. USCIS will now restart the process of reviewing and processing initial applications, Form I-485 adjustment of status applications and RFE responses. Consulates will also begin to schedule interview for EB-5 related immigrant visas again. All of the above changes only apply to new Form I-526 applications.

Congress has also considered the almost 9 months wait caused by the program expiring that investors had to endure and included in the Act language that will protect all investors who file petitions on or before September 30, 2026 (one year before the next program expiration date), should the program expire in 2027. The new language will protect incoming investors who join the program while it is still active and prevent similar limbo waiting periods from happening again.

When Can New Investors Submit I-526 Applications Again

The reauthorization will become effective 60 days after enactment. Investors associated with a regional center should wait 60 days after the legislation is enacted to file for an existing project.

Adjustment of Status

Investors with a pending Form I-526 application who are already in the United States can now file an adjustment of status application if their country’s EB-5 visa is current in the most recent visa bulletin. New Form I-526 applicants can also file a Form I-485 application to adjust status concurrently with the Form I-526 application. The Form I-485 will be processed after the initial EB-5 application is approved, but this change will allow the applicant to stay in the United States while the Form I-526 is pending. It will also allow the applicant to apply for a work permit and a travel permit along with the adjustment of status, giving the applicant the ability to work and travel in the US while the application is pending.

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