EB-5 Visas changes

USA EB-5 Visas change again

The U.S. EB-5 regional centre program has endured a lot of setbacks over the last few years. A string of events shook foreign investor’s confidence in the program. For one thing, renewals of the regional centre EB-5 program were decoupled from the normal Congressional budgetary process, making it harder to get the program renewed. Covid-19 made it very difficult to raise capital and case processing was slowed down during the pandemic. President Trump increased the minimum investment to $900,000. Then the Behring case came along to knock out the regulatory changes brought in under Trump. Finally, and even more significantly, Congress allowed the regional centre program to sunset as of June 30, 2021. For nine months, the EB-5 regional centre program closed. Finally, on March 15, 2022, Congress adopted the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, setting out the date of May 15, 2022, as the new date when the regional centre program could once again become operational.

Another form to complete

In a recently published set of frequently asked questions (FAQs), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced a new policy dealing with the regional centre’s EB-5 program. The position taken is not going over well with many representatives of the investor immigration community. It states, “Entities seeking to be designated as a regional centre are required to file Form I-956, Application for Regional Center Designation. USCIS will be publishing this new form, including the form instructions, with additional information regarding the filing process by May 14, 2022.” The regional centre program was to begin functioning on May 15, 2022. The implementation of the Act with this new step is not a welcome development.

Redesignation to fix historical issues

The problem is compounded by the fact that the USCIS is taking the view that previously designated regional centres cannot maintain their designation without filing the new Form I-956. They argue that the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 repealed the legacy Regional Center Program, thus making it necessary for previously designated regional centres to reapply for designation. The position taken delays individuals seeking status as immigrant investors. Because the regional centre must first file the I-956 to get approval and then submit a project application and receive a receipt number for it to be eligible to help investors file for their green cards.