Changes on the Horizon for EB5
If a bipartisan group of senators gets its way, there are going to be some major changes to the EB-5 investor visa program. The program, which was introduced in the 1990s, is designed to award foreign investors with U.S. residency and an eventual path to citizenship in exchange for a substantial investment into the U.S. economy.
The program has several limits on how much an investment should be worth and the kind of growth that the investment is expected to create. For example, in order to qualify for the program, investors must invest at least $500,000 into a government designated, hard hit industry, or at least $1,000,000 into any other.
Additionally, the investment, if invested into a brand new business venture, is required to create at least ten jobs for qualifying American workers, or, if invested into a pre-existing venture, is required to expand the venture by 40%, either in terms of job growth or in overall net worth.
Among some of the improvements and changes that have been proposed by the bipartisan group of senators tasked with reforming our immigration system are:
- Allowing EB5 Regional Centers to exist permanently. These centers, which are privately held business entities tasked with managing and distributing EB-5 investment funds and promoting fiscal growth within specific geographical boundaries, were originally introduced in 1992 as a pilot program, a program which has been perpetually extended and allowed to exist year after year, with the most recent extension lasting until the end of September, 2015. Due in large part to the program’s success, the crafters of the proposal see no reason to have to continue to treat the program as a pilot.
- Allowing the recapture of un-issued EB5 visas from the past. Congress currently authorizes 10,000 EB5 investor visas for issue each year. As of now, unused visas vanish into thin air and are not carried over into the next fiscal year, despite how beneficial they would be for the economy.
- Allowing the elimination of country quotas which currently cap the number of visas that can be issued to citizens from the same country. As of now, a single country cannot represent more than 7% of the total EB-5 visa pool.
- Allowing an exemption for spouses and children of EB5 investors so that the full 10,000 issued visas are issued solely to principal investors, not their family members.
- Allowing an increase in the overall amount of EB-5 investor visas that can be issued each year.
Stay Tuned for Updates
The pace in Washington appears to be gaining some traction. Citizens across the United States are calling for sweeping reforms to a variety of laws and policies and politicians seem to be responding. As of now, the proposed changes listed above will remain proposals until both sides of Congress can come up with policies that they can agree on, or until the President signs into law an executive order that directly affects the EB5 program.
Prospective EB5 investors are encouraged to stay in touch with an experienced EB-5 attorney for the most up to date and accurate changes to the program as they are announced.