Congress Proposes Bringing the EB-5 Regional Center Program Back

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a spending bill. It is a $1.5 trillion bill that funds the government for the remainder of the fiscal year and gives Ukraine $13.6 billion to help them fight the Russian invasion. Another item in this bill that is a little less prominent but quite important still is an EB-5 immigrant investment reform bill. This bill would re-establish the EB-5 Regional Center Program.

The EB-5 program was originally started in 1990 as a way to encourage foreign investment in U.S. projects that would create jobs and help the U.S. economy. Foreign investors that participate in this program will get immigrant visas for themselves as well as their families. Real estate developers, along with other project sponsors, have used this program as a way of securing alternative financing. But, in June 2021, the Regional Center part of this program which amounted to 95% of the program, lapsed as Congress did not renew it. But, the program will start up again and run through 2027 if the Senate passes the current spending bill and the President signs it.

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act will bring some changes to the Act, such as:

  • The investment amount for Targeted Employment Areas is now $800,000 and $1,050,000 for other areas. These areas will be chosen by the USCIS.
  • Starting on January 1, 2027, and then every five years, the amount of the investment will be adjusted for inflation.

Reserved EB-5 Visas

  • There will be a percentage of these 10,000 visas set aside each year.
  • 10% for projects in distressed urban areas
  • 20% for projects in rural areas
  • 2% for infrastructure projects
  • Visas that are not used will carry over in the same category for the next year.

Indirect Job Limits

These jobs are only allowed to be up to 90% of the jobs. Up to 75% of the jobs can occur as a result of construction that will last for less than two years, and those will count for only as much as the fraction of the two-year period.

Project Requests

Regional Centers are required to file an application to have their project approved with the USCIS. However, after the application is filed, investors are allowed to file I-526 petitions. The USCIS will perform a visit to each site before the project. They will give 24-hours notice.

Increased Regional Center Oversight and Regulations

Makes sure an audit occurs every five years Requiring applications as well as annual reports Audits will require certification of compliance, including payment of all marketing fees. Penalties for noncompliance or making misleading statements to include fines up to 10% of any capital raised, suspension, termination, or banning of individuals

Integrity Fund

To receive support for a new integrity fund, all Regional Centers are required to pay a yearly fee of $20,000, or a $10,000 annual fee for those Regional Centers that have twenty or fewer investors each year, and every Regional Center investor is required to pay $1,000 with their I-526 petition.

Changes in the I-829

Investors who file I-829 petitions are allowed to be in the process of creating the required employment; however, the investor is required to make another filing the following year that indicates the necessary jobs have been created.

Filing Fees

This recent Act instructs the USCIS to charge the amount necessary to process the different fillings between 90 and 240 days, with the quickest times for those investors filing I-526 petitions after making project requests by RCs.

Now that the EB-5 Regional Center Program has been reauthorized, it should attract billions of dollars from foreign investors every year for projects in the U.S. while supplying U.S. sponsors with a source of low-cost financing.

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