We have some great news for international investors! The U.S. Congress has extended the EB-5 Investor Visa Program through September 30, 2017, without any changes. Congress has now approved a comprehensive spending package – which includes an extension of the EB-5 Investor Visa Program – that will keep the government operating through September 30th, the last day of the fiscal year. The spending bill was supported by lawmakers in both parties, in both houses of Congress, and also by the White House.

By offering lawful permanent residency to eligible foreign investors, the EB-5 Investor Visa Program creates new jobs and new business investments in the United States. Although a number of reforms to the EB-5 program are probably inevitable, investors and developers can now have more certainty and confidence in the EB-5 program’s future. A group of lawmakers has been working to reform the EB-5 Investor Visa Program, but no congressional votes regarding reforms to the program will be made this spring.

WHAT REFORMS TO THE EB-5 PROGRAM ARE EXPECTED?

Currently, up to 10,000 EB-5 visas are made available every year to international investors who place $1 million or more into investment projects that create at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers. A $500,000 minimum investment is all that is required if the investment project is based in an economically-depressed region that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has designated as a targeted employment area or “TEA.”

However, it is widely presumed that when Congress votes again on the EB-5 program in September, the minimum investment amount will be increased, probably to $800,000, and stricter regulations will be established and implemented. The minimum investment amount has not been increased since the EB-5 Investor Visa Program was first established by Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990.

The five-month extension now provides international investors with at least one more opportunity to take part in the EB-5 Investor Visa Program for the minimum $500,000 investment amount. If you are an international investor, and if you’ve been considering the EB-5 Investor Visa Program, the time to speak with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney is now. The approval rate for the EB-5 visa is approximately 90 percent, so if you have the minimum investment amount and if you meet all of the other immigration requirements, it is quite likely that you can be granted an EB-5 visa before September 30th. But you must act now.

HOW CAN INVESTORS BEST TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EB-5 PROGRAM?

Uncertainty about its future has not diminished the interest of international investors in the EB-5 program. Right now, some of the largest development projects in the country depend on EB-5 funding. Most reform proposals for the EB-5 program would increase the minimum investment requirement while reducing the opportunities for – and increasing the safeguards against – fraud and the misappropriation of EB-5 funds.

Investors can best take advantage of the opportunities offered through the EB-5 program by working from the start with a U.S. immigration lawyer who routinely handles EB-5 visa applications. The EB-5 Investor Visa Program is an excellent path to lawful permanent residency in the U.S. Investors can learn more – or initiate the visa application process – by consulting an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney. And the best time to do that is now.