The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program has been a boon to foreign investors and the U.S. economy. This has been especially true during the economic expansion in China and the recession in America. EB-5 has been the right vehicle at the right time. Now investors in countries like India (the second fastest growing economy behind China) and Vietnam are showing increased interest in the investment immigration program.
Speaking of “increased” and “investment,” potential EB-5 investors are once again faced with the potential of an increase in the minimum investments required to participate in the EB-5 program. Several proposals are on the table for discussion for legislation in the U.S. Congress and for regulatory reform at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security.
EB-5 Reform Bills
Several immigration reform bills have been submitted over the past several years, but none have been able to reach the floor of either the Senate or the House of Representatives for a vote. There are three bills currently pending that could initiate changes to EB-5 investment requirements if passed.
- The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa and Regional Center Program Comprehensive Reform Act of 2017. This bill calls for changing the minimum investments in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) and non-TEAs to $800,000 and $925,000 respectively. That is a 60% increase in the minimum investment required in a TEA and a mere 2.5% decrease in non-TEA investments.
- The American Job Creation and Investment into Public Works Reform Act of 2017. This bill calls for the same 60% increase in the minimum for TEA investments and a 20% increase from $1 million to $1.2 million for non-TEA investments.
- The American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act of 2017. This bill also recommends the same 60% increase in investment in TEAs but proposes that the $1 million non-TEA investment remains the same.
USCIS Division of the Department of Homeland Security
This is where the EB-5 investment question becomes a bit sticky. With Congress stuck in gridlock on immigration reform and dozens of other issues, the USCIS has indicated that, should Congress continue to fail to act, the department will exercise its own regulatory authority and introduce its own reforms. Those reforms include an as-yet-undisclosed increase in minimum investments.
However, the January 2017 Notice of Proposed Rule Making that is the basis for the DHS cited an increase of the EB-5 minimum investment from $500,000 to $1.35 million. Although the previous Final Action Date of February 2018 has passed, it was not ignored. The current Final Action Date is August 2018.
What It Means for EB-5 Investors
The DHS and USCIS, in cooperation with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has positioned itself to act where Congress has been unable and/or unwilling to. August 2018 is three months away.
For investors, the impending increases are looming large and may be coming sooner than anticipated. Waiting for Congress is like Waiting for Godot. However, the waiting is over. The DHS and USCIS changes can be implemented without congressional approval.
The handwriting on the wall is saying that the time for waiting and indecision is over. Wise investors are defined by the wisdom of their investments. The wisdom of their investments is adjudicated on the merit of the investment versus the return. The wise investor would avoid spending $1.35 million (or $1.2 million) for something he or she could have obtained for $500,000.
We strongly recommend investors who are considering immigrating to the United States via the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program to contact us right away so that we can begin the process before investment increases are imposed.
The attorneys at American Corporate Services Law Offices, Inc. understand the complexities of U.S. Immigration Law and are highly skilled at ensuring that our clients are fully equipped to understand the process and prepared to succeed with their petitioning process and gaining their Green Card as quickly and efficiently as possible.