Today, the U.S. Congress passed a one-week stopgap funding bill to prevent a government shutdown and the expiration of the EB-5 Regional Center program. The continuing resolution will keep the U.S. federal government open through May 5, 2017, and USCIS will continue to accept Form I-526 petitions based on investments through EB-5 Regional Centers through that date.
It is unclear with Congress will be able to resolve the three major outstanding issues to reform the EB-5 Program by next week Friday.
- Increase of minimum investment amount from $500,000 to either $800,000 or $850,000;
- Defining “Targeted Employment Area” to limit incentives for investments in prime urban areas; and
- Visa “Set Asides” for investments in rural areas, with incentives for lower investment amounts and faster processing.
However, there does appear to be a consensus developing within the EB-5 industry in light of the proposed regulations that would increase the minimum investment amount to $1,350,000 or $1,800,000.
Nevertheless, it is possible that, in the event a bipartisan final agreement cannot be reached, Congress passes another continuing resolution (possibly even to September 30, 2017). It does appear that, if new EB-5 legislation is enacted in the meantime, there could be some “lead time” involved for the EB-5 industry to prepare itself prior to implementation.
In conclusion, we are hopeful that Congress can pass a new EB-5 reform bill soon to provide the EB-5 industry with certainty and predictability. If these reforms are successful, we hope that Congress recognizes the economic benefit that the EB-5 program and investors bring to the U.S. and increase the number of visas allocated to EB-5 each year.