Immigration to the US has always been a controversial issue because of the frequent change in immigration regulations. The latest modification in the Immigration law is that the deadline for the EB-5 visa has been extended till January 19, 2018. This golden visa is highly coveted because of the relatively easy chance of gaining permanent residence in the US that it offers. While the proposal to increase the minimum investment limit from USD 500,000 TO USD 920,000 is being considered, the extension in the deadline has opened up many opportunities for EB-5 visa approvals in the next month according to Martin Lawler.

EB-5 visa program

Under the EB-5 visa program, 50,000 visas are offered every year to immigrants who are willing to invest an amount of USD 500,000 in business projects in the US to provide full-time employment to at least 10 Americans.

The program has been very successful in generating $22 billion of FDI in the last 10 years. It has also led to an increase in job creation. The program was started in the 1990 by the Congress and remains unchanged till date.

Features of the EB-5 visa program:

– This is an investment program which allows entrepreneurs from different countries to apply for a green card in the US if they are ready to invest the stated amount in any project in America.

– The family of the entrepreneur including the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are also provided green cards after approval of the visa.

– The EB-5 investors are required to make investments in new commercial enterprises which can be any type of holding- sole proprietorship, joint venture, partnership or corporation.

– The enterprise should be a for-profit one and provide jobs to 10 US citizens. The job should be one which requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week.

– The investment needs to be made in a Targeted Employment Area which refers to a rural or high unemployment area.

– The general investment limit is $1 million in areas other than the TEAs.

EB-5 News

The continuing resolution H.R 1370 signed by Donald Trump has allowed the regional center program of the EB-5 visa to be extended till January 19, 2018.

The EB-5 visa is considered to be controversial by many because in a way it sells citizenship in exchange for invested money. The Congress is yet to decide on the fate of the program which is why it is going on extending the deadline of the program till it can reach a conclusive resolution.

It has been observed that 80% of the immigrants coming to the US with the help of the EB-5 visa are Chinese. Martin Lawler observes that even though the EB-5 visa program is responsible for generating billions of dollars every year in terms of capital investment and creates innumerable jobs in the US, it is not one of the leading contributors to the total number of visas approved.

The latest statistics show that in the year 2017, around 8650 visas have been generated till July by the USCIS. This accounts for just 3% of the total visa allocations across all categories.

The top 5 countries which have benefitted the most from the EB-5 visa are:

– China

– Vietnam

– Brazil

– South Korea

– India

The Final Action Date has been moved forward to February 2018 from April 2018. While the extension of the application date is a welcome move, there is still uncertainty about the legislative changes that are to be brought about shortly.

Some of the proposed changes in the EB-5 program include:

– Revision of the definition and criteria of TEA or Targeted Employment Area.

– Increase in the amount of investment to be made by the immigrant to get a green card.

– Stringent regional center compliance regulations.

These changes have been proposed because of the recent incidents of fraud and mismanagement of funds due to lack of transparency. One of the most important changes which has repeatedly appeared in the proposal drafts is the imposition of the obligation to provide annual reports on regional centers. If this regulation is implemented, the regional center would have to provide details of the inflow of foreign capital, jobs created through funded projects and annual certifications given to centers based on a review of the fact that no one associated with the center is associated with criminal or fraudulent offenses. All the companies linked to the center would have to comply with the securities laws and other regulatory requirements.

In the past few years, the gerrymandering issue has become a menace which is why the proposals for change are being discussed. A few years back, it was found that wealthy businessmen had been entering the US with the help of the EB-5 visa and their money was being pooled by the regional centers to start projects in the prime areas rather than the impoverished ones. It was basically a scam run by the center officials who were deceiving the government by showing that they were located in the TEAs while funding real estate projects in areas providing a high return of investment. To curb this problem of misappropriation of funds, the Congress is seeking new regulatory measures.

According to Martin Lawler, it has become imperative to find a solution which stops the EB-5 program from being misused and assures the transparent and compliant functioning of the regional centers. This program is meant for being a vehicle for investment and way to solve unemployment problems. However, to maintain its viability and to make it serve its purpose, it is necessary to go for reforms in the EB-5 program so that the immigrants as well as the country can gain from it.

Conclusion with Martin 

The changes in the EB-5 visa program are bound to take place any time in the next few months. It is better to stay abreast with and learn about the latest reforms. Lawler and Lawler provides the latest EB-5 news to keep investors updated regarding the changes in the immigration laws and offers expert guidance to gain permanent residence in the US through the EB-5 program. Martin Lawler offers immigration advice and the best way to make an investment through the EB-5 visa.