On March 11, the US Congress officially re-authorised the EB-5 Regional Center Programme after an almost eight-month suspension. The reauthorisation of the EB-5 Regional Center Programme was included in the federal spending bill. It provided a five-year extension, making it the first long-term reauthorisation since 2015. The programme allows investors to inject capital into the US approved commercial enterprise. The investment acts as an economic boost to the US economy and has increased the labour market creating 10 jobs with each investment.
The programme has been reauthorised with crucial structural changes. When analysed holistically, the programme presents a much better offering for current and future investors. Congress has ensured that there are increased investor protections, such as the direction of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to prioritise the processing of EB-5 petitions for rural area investments, concurrent filing of EB-5 petitions and green card applications (designated for applicants who are legally in the US.
The EB-5 immigrant visa will be permitted to file adjustment of status while waiting for the adjudication of their EB-5 petition), clearer visa allocation guidelines, and grandfathering for the investors that have already submitted their applications. For a long time, the industry has been calling on the government to provide provisions that will protect the investor and attempt to eradicate the visa backlog along with other proposed changes. It will ensure the investor sufficient protection while also increasing the value of the programme.
The new law also increased the required capital investment to $800,000 for investments in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) and $1,050,000 for standard EB-5 investments. The increment in capital investment attempts to position the programme with the current inflation rate. For almost three decades the program has remained at a fixed price of $500,000, while advantageous for investors, the main aim of the program was to assist in the boosting of the US economy and for it to achieve its objective, an increment was needed. Under the new law, the programme will remain at $800,000 for five years, to be automatically increased every five years thereafter. The increment amount for the program will be based on the consumer price index.
While the new law does not explicitly state if the programme will need renewal after the provided five-year extension, it does give direction for USCIS and the National Visa Centre (NVC) to process all petitions up to September 30, 2027. Post-September 2027, the programme will require reauthorisation to continue. Candidates have an opportunity to take advantage of this five-year extension as early submission of an application means approval within the five-year immigration cycle. This is sufficient time for filing an I-526 and receiving conditional green card status before the programme needs reauthorisation again. On March 11, all the relevant agencies have been given authority to proceed with the adjudication of all petitions that were placed on hold due to the lapse of the programme and start preparing for the processing of future applications.
These are exciting times for the EB-5 industry. These changes will focus on the integrity of the program and will better serve the investors and the US as a whole. The implementation of these changes will take a few weeks for all the affected parties such as USCIS, NVC, and regional Centres, however, once implemented the programme will be able to start accepting applications once again.
The team of US-licensed lawyers at the American Legal Centre have been assisting EB-5 applicants for over 12 years in the Middle East and emerging markets. Under the guidance of Shahriar Zamanian or Shai Zamanian, the legal director of The American Legal Center in Dubai has successfully filed more EB-5 applications than any other firm within the GCC. In June 2022, they filed 6 per cent of worldwide applications. Zamanian explained: “We are grateful for the new program and sense new clients will appreciate the integrity measures that are now in place. The U.S. government will now take a more proactive approach in monitoring the investment projects which will ultimately benefit everyone.” The American Legal Centre in Dubai understands the program requirements and how these new changes will positively impact investors and the program. Therefore families looking to participate in the program must contact the American Legal Centre and schedule a free consultation with one of the attorneys.