The EB-5 visa is currently facing a number of potential changes will be passed. This could have a huge impact on how the visa looks moving in 2019. Changes that are being considered involve changing the minimum investment requirement, changing the EB-5 Regional Center Program, and making changes to how many applications are being accepted from each country. These kinds of changes could particularly impact Indian investors who are interested in the program because Indian citizens have been applying for this visa at an increasingly higher rate than previous years.
The EB-5 Visa
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor program created with the goal of stimulating the American economy and creating American jobs through foreign investment. This is accomplished with a minimum investment of $500,000 into a new commercial enterprise of a designated size. The investment can be made by purchasing an existing enterprise for reconstruction or reorganization to maximize results, or by showing that the investment will increase the network of the company or number of employees by a minimum of 40%. The minimum qualifying investment for this visa program is $1,000,000. However, in areas that are deemed high-unemployment areas and rural areas, the minimum investment required drops to $500,000. To obtain an EB-5 visa, a person must be able to invest at least $500,000 into an approved program that will create at least 10 permanent full-time American jobs and prove the money was obtained legally.
There is actually a lot of uncertainty currently about the EB-5 visa and what the program is going to look like moving forward as the EB-5 Visa Bulletin for November 2018 has come out. The EB-5 Reform Act has been brought up and suggests that major changes are made to the program. In particular, the EB-5 Regional Center Program is expected to have major changes be discussed. The program had an original sunset date of September 30, 2018, but has been extended to December 7, 2018. The program will remain as is until December 7, or until the enactment of a new law that reauthorizes or excludes the program. Information about any changes being confirmed or denied is likely to be sparse until the upcoming extended sunset date.
The EB-5 Regional Center program comes up for renewal every couple of months and has previously always been passed without reform. However, there are many who would like to see the program reformed and have suggested changes such as increasing the minimum investment amount and changing targeted employment areas. The minimum investment in targeted unemployment areas could go rise from $500,000 to $1.35 million. The direct program could see a rise from the minimum investment of $1 million to $1.8 million.
Some have even called for the program to expire altogether, but the economic growth and job creation stemming from the program has kept that from happening so far. Many believe that the program is likely to be reauthorized without reform because it follows President Trump’s agenda of “Hire American.”
Other proposed changes include reserving an annual number of EB-5 visas for immigrant investors who invest in rural areas, increasing the job creation requirement to 12 employees, increasing documentation needed to prove the legality of the funds used for the investment, and adding annual fees to those who decide to invest in regional centers. Whether these changes will be approved or not is yet to be seen.
Increasing Popularity of the EB-5 Visa
Despite all of these proposed changes, the EB-5 visa is still at an all-time high popularity. Many people feel that this visa is far more accessible, easy to get, and has a shorter waiting list than other employment-based visas. Particularly due to the increasing waiting list for the H-1B visa, EB-5 applications are skyrocketing. Because the EB-5 visa has become more popular, it has received more people’s attention in the government. This could mean that even though the EB-5 Regional Center Program has been renewed without many changes in the past, significant changes could be seen to accommodate its new popularity. An increasing number of applications could affect the cap number of applications being accepted from each country per year. Some countries like China have already hit their cap for 2018 and countries like India are close to hitting it.
The EB-5 visa is highly popular because it’s a great option for those seeking permanent residences in the U.S. People who are interested in becoming EB-5 investors shouldn’t fear the new changes, and should still plan on making investments in new enterprises and regional centers in 2019. Even if major changes are made to the Regional Center Program, it’s still going to be a great way for investors to have a more “hands-off” approach to their investment. Reach out to an immigration attorney for more information and to schedule a consultation.