U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sent its EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The EB-5 modernization proposal has been under discussion since the Obama administration.
The EB-5 green card program generally offers two investment options: One requires investors to actively manage the company in which they put their money. The other, called the Regional Center program, allows investors to assume a passive role.
Investors and their families are eligible for an EB-5 green card by putting up at least $1 million to create a business or invest in a regional center that creates at least 10 full-time jobs. A regional center is a business—often a real-estate project—approved by the USCIS. If the business or regional center is located in a rural or high unemployment area—called targeted employment areas (TEAs)—a foreign national only needs to invest $500,000. The job requirement remains the same.
The details of the modernization proposal won’t be public until USCIS publishes it in the Federal Register. However, two years ago, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees USCIS, proposed the following changes:
- Increasing the minimum investment amount in TEAs to $1.35 million from $500,000. Elsewhere, the minimum direct investment increases to $1.8 million from $1 million.
- Allowing EB-5 investors to retain priority dates of previously approved petitions thereby avoiding processing delays.
- Giving USCIS the authority to designate TEAs—rather than the states—using a more restrictive method.
USCIS submitted the proposal to OMB on Feb. 22. OMB has up to 90 days to review the proposal. USCIS could make changes to the proposed rule based on OMB’s review. The current rules for the EB-5 program remain in effect. The EB-5 Regional Center program, which is tied to the federal budget, is set to expire on Sept. 30—the end of the fiscal year—unless Congress reauthorizes the budget.
If you are considering an EB-5 green card, we recommend that you take action as quickly as possible before the minimum investment increases. According to the April 2019 Visa Bulletin, USCIS is issuing EB-5 green cards to foreign investors from all countries except China and Vietnam. Reach out to us if we can assist you with exploring an EB-5 green card or alternative options.