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Official: EB-5 is renewed, investment threshold increased to $800,000

Updated Time 13 May, 2022, 14:54 (UTC+08:00)

On 16 March 2022, President Joe Biden signed legislation that reauthorizes the new EB-5 Regional Center Program, taking effect through 30 September 2027 after the Congress passed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act 2022.

The Program being extended to 5.5 years frees investors waiting in limbo like before when it was unfortunately lapsed. The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act 2022 is attached to the $1.5 trillion Omnibus Spending Package and includes significant changes related to investment threshold, policies and processing time. These updates will ensure the Program to run smoothly with investors’ full benefits guaranteed, taking effect 60 days from the day of enactment.

1. Adjust the investment threshold

With the EB-5 projects located in TEA (Targeted Employment Area), rural areas or any locations with high unemployment rate, the new investment threshold is $800,000. Another possible option is the government EB-5 project, but must be double checked by The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before approval. For the standard, the threshold is $1.05 million.

Note: the amount will be adjusted for inflation every 5 years.

2. Strictly monitor regional centers and designate TEAs

USCIS will monitor regional centers to ensure full compliance with the new Act from the beginning:

  • Submit an annual statement to the U.S Department Homeland of Security including investors’ capital, jobs, certifications and other related information.
  • Require a fund manager or independent auditor (every 5 years)
  • Being audited at least once every 5 years by USCIS
  • Pay an annual fee of $10,000 - $20,000 allocated to the Integrity fund for USCIS compliance activities.

TEAs follow new rules:

  • The U.S Department Homeland of Security will designate TEAs, instead of States and governments.
  • Infrastructure projects must be state-owned, of which the government will create jobs.
  • EB-5 applications for investment in rural areas will be prioritized for processing.

3. Continue processing existing EB-5 applications

Applications including (1) submitted I-526 and (2) pending I-526 and I-829 will be resumed upon enactment of the new Act without being subject to new rules and higher investment threshold.

  • Visas of approved I-526 petitions will be prioritized for expedited issuance
  • Future investors must wait 60 days after enactment to file I-526 petitions.
  • Pooled I-526 petitions must be sponsored by regional centers and meet their new requirements, otherwise will not be approved.

In the case the Program is lapsed or ends again, Grandfathering provisions require USCIS to continue processing the EB-5 applications filed prior to 30 September 2026. Therefore, investors already completing this step before the above time can be worry-free in any circumstance. For the applications submitted after this time, investors may ask for further guidance from the legislature to prevent risks of visas not being approved.

4. Implement new EB-5 visa set-asides

About 20% will be reserved for investments in the rural areas and have USCIS’s processing priority. 10% will be spent on TEAs with high unemployment rate and 2% for infrastructure projects administered by federal, state or local government entities. Unused visas will be added to the next fiscal year’s quota, but not accumulated for more than 3 years.

5. Other changes

  • Each investment must create 10 full-time jobs, in which includes a maximum of 9 indirect jobs (only 75% of them is counted for constructions lasting less than 2 years) and at least a direct job, according to USCIS.
  • Investors (and their families) for whom already have an EB-5 immigrant visa are permitted to concurrently file both the I-526 and I-485 petitions (application for adjustment of status to permanent residence).
  • Total processing time can be reduced to 3 years compared to previous 5-7 years; however, may only last until Quarter 3/2022 as the amount of applications could reach peak after this time.

Stricter regulations give investors more peace of mind but push costs higher. Besides the administration costs and other related fees, an additional $1,000 along with the I-526 petition is required to allocate to the EB-5 Integrity Fund as support to USCIS’s monitoring and enforcement. This limits the scope of available options that regional centers can provide; however, transparency is guaranteed with the money being properly used to offer investors an expedited path to permanent residency.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program is preferred by many foreign investors who seek to legally work and live in the U.S. Their families, including spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old will be qualified for Green Card issuance and receive full benefits of permanent residents once being approved. To get an EB-5 visa, investors must deposit a minimum amount of $800,000 if investing in TEAs and $1.5 million if choosing other locations. Processing time lasts about 24 months.

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