We have previously written about the then impending September 30th reauthorization deadline for the EB-5 visa program. At the time, we speculated that a small glimmer of a possibility existed that Congress may be able to put aside its differences and pass a full reauthorization bill that included a number of reform provisions. We believed that an increase in the minimum qualifying investment and other changes were likely to the EB-5 program. Unfortunately, partisan gridlock in Congress doomed the chances of timely passage of a comprehensive reform and reauthorization bill. The reauthorization date of September 30, 2015, has now come and gone. Thankfully, Congress did not allow the program to expire entirely.
Congress approves Temporary EB-5 Investor Visa Program Extension
While it is not the extension that proponents of the EB-5 program wanted, any extension to keep the program alive is welcome and better than a lapse. On Wednesday September 30, 2015, Congress passed a stopgap measure intended to keep the program running due to Congress’ inability to move on the bill in a timely fashion and to permit ample time for debate over a more comprehensive reform bill. The stopgap measure ensures that the program will continue to operate for the next six weeks. However, absent passage of a more permanent authorization measure the EB-5 investor program will expire at the close of this period.
Industry Letter from Board Member of EB-5 Trade Group Provides Some Clues as to the Direction of EB-5
While the temporary extension is certainly welcome, most EB-5 visa attorneys and intending immigrant investors are seeking long-term guidance regarding the expectations for the program. The letter, written by Pat Hogan, founder and board member of industry trade group Invest in the USA (IIUSA), provides some insight into the discussions that are taking place in Washington D.C. While the most accessible take away from the letter is that no one really knows how the program will fare in Congress, there are some more salient and substantive points regarding more limited aspects of any potential reauthorization. Some of the limited conclusions that can be drawn from the letter include:
- Minimum investment required to participate – Most observers expect the minimum investment required to participate in the EB-5 regional center program to increase rather substantially. While estimates vary, $800,000 seems to be the most widely discussed number for a potential increase in the minimum investment. This is a $300,000 increase over the $500,000 currently required to participate in the program while investing in a low-income or targeted employment area (TEA).
- Grandfathering of EB-5 projects & investors – While the grandfathering of already filed EB-5 projects and investors is expected, there is no clear consensus on how this will be handled. Some believe that the filing of an I-924 will be sufficient to secure grandfathered status. However, based on the deluge of I-924s received by USCIS in the days prior to the programs slated expiration and the fact that many of these I-924s appear to be rather barebones – hastily filed in hopes of securing grandfathered status – there is a high likelihood that something more than an I924 filing will be required. Best practices would require the filing of an I-526 petition to protect one’s chances of being grandfathered.
- Visa allocation – Some have advocated for a change in the way that visas are counted. Proposed changes would have only counted the actual investor against the 10,000 visa allocation. This change, however, is not expected to make it into the final law.
While it appears likely that Congress will indeed pass a permanent reauthorization, the details and exact provisions any reform bill will contain remain in flux. However the discussions in the letter reveal that reauthorization of the program has moved beyond the initial question of whether the program would be extended and into the details of the extension. Of course, in light of today’s Congress and partisan gridlock there is no guarantee that political factors will not further delay or derail the extension. However, intending immigrant investors should waste no time in seeking experienced immigration assistance. Individuals who act quickly may be able to grandfather themselves in under the current minimum investment values.
Rely on our Tampa Investor Visa Lawyers
The experienced Tampa immigration lawyers of Colombo & Hurd provide committed and strategic immigration services for EB-5 immigrant investors. To schedule a private immigration consultation at our Orlando or Miami law offices call 800-659-7142 or contact us online today.