The immigration process is tricky, time consuming, and expensive no matter how you do it. It is made even more challenging when the rules change.
This article is to alert potential international investors that a major shift is coming in the process for obtaining an EB-5 visa. Beginning on November 21, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will institute several new rules surrounding the administration of this visa, which is designed for immigrants who are able to invest significant funds into a new or struggling business in the United States. The move is said to be an effort to modernize the process.
Following are four important points of difference in the new EB-5 Investor Visa. But first, let’s look at what this visa is designed to do and how it benefits both immigrants and natural born Americans.
The EB-5 program was created by Congress in 1990 with the goal of stimulating the U.S. economy via foreign investment. The program officially launched in 1992 and has been reauthorized several times since then.[quads id=2]
Now administered by the department of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), the EB-5 Investor Program requires applicants to invest a certain amount of money into an American business located in an
The investment can be in either a new business or one that is significantly transformed by virtue of the investment. In any case, the enterprise must generate full time employment for at least 10 qualified employees.
If the commercial enterprise is new and geographically located within a designated regional center, the jobs created may be either direct or indirect. A direct job means that the employee is on the payroll of the company in question. An indirect job is one created by virtue of the company’s presence in the region, such as work for a supplier of raw goods for the new company.
On the other hand, if the commercial enterprise is not located within a designated regional center, the jobs created must be direct jobs.
The government allots 10,000 EB-5 visas each year for eligible investors and the program has been successful. However, several rule changes are about to go into effect. Consider the following new guidelines before deciding whether to apply (or reapply if you already have an application in process) for an EB-5 visa.
1. It’s going to cost more[quads id=2]
The minimum investment in order to participate in this program will rise from $1 million to $1.8 million. Additionally, if you are participating with the program in a TEA (targeted employment area) the minimum investment will increase to $900,000, up from $500,000.
Both of these changes are being made to account for inflation, and further bumps will also be tied to inflation. These decisions will be made after consideration of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) during a scheduled review every 5 years.
2. The Feds are taking control of TEAs[quads id=1]
Certain parts of the country have been designated as targeted employment areas. These are cities and towns where investors are highly sought in order to bring jobs to needy Americans. In the past, the federal government has deferred to the states when it came to designating TEAs.
Going forward, the department will verify that any area designated a TEA has experienced an average unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average unemployment rate. Smaller cities and towns will become eligible for TEA designation, provided they have a population of 20,000 or more living outside of metropolitan areas.[quads id=2]
The goal of this change is to ensure that resources are directed to the communities most in need and that the designations are applied consistently nationwide.
3. The rules for permanent residence status have been clarified
There are conditions placed upon permanent residence by virtue of the EB-5 Investor Visa, and the rules surrounding these have been rewritten so as to be clearer.
Specifically, the new rules explain when “derivative” family members, i.e., the spouse or children of the primary visa-holder, must file independently to remove conditions on their permanent residence. The new language also explains the process by which Green Cards are issued for permanent residence.[quads id=2]
Finally, there is some new language that grants flexibility in the interview location for EB-5 visa holders.>
4. EB-5 petitions in process won’t be completely derailed
Based on the new requirements, current applicants for an EB-5 visa that has been approved, but not yet issued, will need to file a new petition. However, many will be allowed to keep the priority date of their previous application.
So while the new rules do impose additional requirements on your visa application, if you can get the new paperwork completed quickly, you may not lose your place in line.
There are other “technical and conforming revisions” included in the updated rules. These are small changes in the fine print that shouldn’t disqualify anyone who can meet the new investment minimum and who was confirmed eligible before the change.[quads id=1]
The increase in funding requirements and additional paperwork associated with the changes could be a burden. However, we hope that the opportunity to participate in an exciting and innovative American industry will override the additional outlay. The EB-5 visa is still a great way for you and your family to become permanent citizens of the United States and help American workers in the process.