EB-5 Investor visas revamp 2022

EB-5 Investor visas revamp 2022

The EB-5 visa program has given thousands of foreign investors the chance to live the American Dream, launch their businesses, and secure US permanent residency. But, back then, petitioning for an EB-5 visa was different from what it looks like today.

Thanks to the recent reforms and updates, petitioning for an EB-5 visa is not as complicated as it seems.

EB-5 Visa: March 2022 Updates And Current Requirements

Among the price increase proposals that passed in 2019, the sunset period of the Regional Center program in June 2021, and the always-changing investment requirements, it is easy to feel confused about the current conditions of the EB-5 program.

However, with the resumption of the EB-5 visa program on March 22nd, 2022, new guidelines came into effect. These include:

  • Investments towards a new business or an existing commercial enterprise. 
  • A minimum of $1,050,000 for direct investments and Regional Center projects
  • A minimum of $800,000 for investments in TEAs, or Targeted Employment Areas that report an unemployment rate at least 150% greater than the national average
  • The creation and maintenance of at least ten full-time jobs for qualifiable employees.

Direct vs Regional Center Investments

Investors looking to obtain a green card by self-petitioning for an EB-5 visa have two main options: make a direct investment in a new or existing commercial enterprise or leverage the support of a Regional Center. Choosing between the two options isn’t easy and can make a difference in an investor’s chances of success – and, in turn, their chances of getting a green card. The best choice depends on each investor’s goals, risk tolerance, and management preference. However, as a general rule:

  • Regional Center Projects are approved by USCIS, reducing investor and immigration risk for alien entrepreneurs. These projects are professionally managed and often collect investments from multiple contributors, ensuring the job creation requirement is met. 
  • Direct investments can be made towards establishing a new commercial enterprise or purchasing equity in an existing business. 

It is important to notice that direct investments can be riskier for entrepreneurs with little knowledge of a particular industry or area, but they offer investors complete managerial control. On the other hand, Regional Centers are a lower-risk option perfect for those looking for a hands-off approach to investing. 

Today, most of the EB-5 petitions are through Regional Centers. But, before choosing, it is essential to consider that the new EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 have introduced new limitations, such as caps on construction jobs, reduced TEA letters’ validity length, and increased frequency of USCIS audits. 

The EB-5 Green Card Petition

The project of petitioning for an EB-5 is, on paper, fairly straightforward. Indeed, applicants will only need to file Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor). Once approved, investors can petition for a DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) or Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). 

Lastly, investors and their immediate relatives can file Form I-829 or Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status after two years. In an attempt to make this process even more accessible, the new reforms to the EB-5 visa process also specify that:

  • Pending petitions won’t be subject to the latest guidelines
  • Processing of EB-5 petitions will continue regardless of future lapses
  • 10,000 EB-5 visas are available each year by category (20% for investments in rural areas, 10% in high unemployment areas, and 2% in infrastructures)
  • Children of investors will be guaranteed a visa if they age out during the petition processing
  • Investors can switch between projects if one is terminated

Before petitioning for an EB-5 visa, entrepreneurs need to know that processing times still stand around 5-6 years.