On September 8th, President Trump signed Public Law 115-56 extending the Regional Center Program for the EB-5 investor visa program through Dec. 8, 2017. Between now and then, processing will continue while various reforms to the program are being discussed.
Created by Congress in 1990, the EB-5 program is intended to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation. The idea is that foreign investors create new businesses that provide jobs.
The minimum investment is currently $500,000 in Targeted Employment Areas where there is high unemployment or a shortage of employment opportunities, such as in rural areas, and $1,000,000 everywhere else. The capital, which the immigrant investor must prove he or she legally has, includes cash, equipment, inventory, other property and secured assets. The existence of the investment capital needs to be carefully and thoroughly documented.
The new commercial enterprise must create at least 10 full-time jobs in which individuals are employed at least 35 hours per week. An experienced immigration attorney can explain the intricacies of what is specifically involved for these positions.
Applicants file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. Following approval of the petition, applicants legally residing in the U.S. would file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. For those living outside the U.S., they would file DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration.
Initially, the applicant and his or her immediate relatives (spouse, unmarried children under 21) receive conditional permanent residence for two years. Ninety days prior to the end of the two years, they would file Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, showing the business is still active and the employees are continuing to work on a full-time basis.
Over the next few months, it is expected that Congress and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, which administers the EB-5 program) will review and revise the program. There is considerable debate between the supporters of the program and the critics. Over the years, there have been instances of fraud, and there is pressure to either eliminate it or enact significant reforms. It is likely that the minimum investment amount will be raised. Closer oversight seems inevitable.
At present, there is a backlog on processing and issuance of the visas. Proponents will continue to push for an increased visa cap.