US reopens investment lane for green cards

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Minimum investment amount for EB-5 projects increased to $1,050,000 and $800,000 for targeted employment areas

Wealthy Indians looking for ways to get a US green card or permanent residence permit have reopened the way for investment with the US Congress reviving the EB-5 regional hub program.

President Joe Biden signed into law appropriations legislation passed by Congress on Thursday night on March 11 that also reauthorizes until fiscal year 2027 the program expired since June 30, 2021.

About 80,000 investors, mostly from China, followed by India, had been caught in limbo as US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stopped processing their green card applications as the program expired. .

Read: Indians received 17% of all EB-5 investor visas in 2020 (December 28, 2021)

However, the new law increases the minimum investment amount for EB-5 projects to $1,050,000 from $1,000,000 and to $800,000 from $500,000 for Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs). The minimum investment for infrastructure projects will be $800,000.

Foreign investors will also be required to pay a new fee of $1,000 which will be allocated to the Integrity Fund.

The new law allows bona fide investors to complete the permanent residency process despite the termination or debarment of an EB-5 entity or regional center, or in the event that the regional center program expires at the future.

With the new authorization, USCIS will be able to accept new Regional Center cases and continue to adjudicate pending cases that were put on hold after last year’s program expired.

But it is not yet known when the agency will do so. An announcement is expected in the coming weeks, according to Fragomen, a New York-based immigration law firm.

In a recent tweet, the American Immigrant Investor Alliance (AIIA) predicted “that the EB-5 Regional Center program will be reauthorized with the Omnibus on March 15, 2022 according to Forbes.

Ishaan Khanna, co-founder of the American Immigrant Investor Alliance, which represents the interests of EB-5 investors, had also warned of a “bank run” if EB-5 investors were denied their green cards because of the expiration of the program.

“Instead, if the bill passes, immigrant investors will be able to begin helping build the American economy again by investing in the revised program,” he said.

Read: The EB-5 investor visa program faces continued delays (December 6, 2021)

Under the new law, investors for whom an EB-5 immigrant visa is immediately available will be permitted to file their EB-5 petitions along with their applications for adjustment of status to permanent residence, or to file an adjustment with a pending EB-. 5 petition.

This will allow them to obtain work authorization and travel authorization while their case is pending.

The new law directs USCIS to prioritize processing EB-5 investment applications in rural areas. Regional centers will be subject to regular audits and enhanced record keeping requirements.

They will also be required to pay an annual fee of $20,000 (or $10,000 for regional centers with 20 or fewer investors) which will be allocated to an EB-5 Integrity Fund.

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, reauthorizing the EB-5 Regional Center program through September 30, 2027, is part of the federal appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2022 signed by Biden.

The law prohibits the denial of a petition based on the expiration of the program and directs the agency to continue to issue immigrant visa numbers to petitioners whose cases at the regional center were filed before September 30, 2026.

Under regulations that were ultimately overturned by a federal court, the EB-5 investment minimum was increased to $1,800,000 for standard EB-5 investments and $900,000 for TEAs from November 19, 2019 through June 22, 2021.

Beginning January 1, 2027, and every five years thereafter, the minimum investment amount for standard EB-5 projects will be subject to increases based on the Consumer Price Index.

For TEAs and infrastructure projects, the minimum investment amount will be increased to 60% of the standard minimum investment.
Allocation of EB-5 Immigrant Visas

The new law reserves 32% of the annual EB-5 immigrant visa quota for specific types of EB-5 projects:
20% of EB-5 immigrant visas are reserved for foreign nationals investing in a rural area of ​​the United States;
10% is reserved for foreign nationals who invest in a USCIS-designated high unemployment area;
2% is reserved for investors in a new category for qualifying infrastructure projects administered by a federal, state or local government entity.

Read: Congress Is About To Relaunch The EB-5 Program From The Dead: 8 Recent EB-5 Reforms Real Estate Developers And Project Developers Should Know About (March 10, 2022)

If there are unused visas in any of the three sub-categories listed, those visas will be made available in the same category in the following fiscal year.

If they are not used in the following fiscal year, they will be added to the overall EB-5 quota in the following fiscal year.

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