It has been four months since the lapse of the US golden visa, called the EB-5 Immigrant Investor programme, due to a lack of reauthorisation by Congress. From its inception in 1990, the EB-5 programme has been among the most popular investment immigration options for foreign nationals seeking access to the US. The popularity of the programme stems from its less strict requirements as compared to other immigration programmes. The EB-5 programme was created by Congress on the simple premise that a foreign national’s investment of $500,000 (Dh1.8 million) into a new commercial enterprise in the US must create a minimum of 10 jobs for US persons and in exchange for such an investment, the investor and the investor’s spouse and children under 21 years of age are eligible to receive US green cards.
The EB-5 Regional Center programme was created by Congress in 1992 to help families fulfill the 10 job counts by passively investing in government pre-approved projects. Traditionally, 90 per cent of all EB-5 applications come through this Regional Center programme and it has been the easiest route utilised to obtain US residency. From time to time, Congress would need to extend this programme to allow for new applications to come through. Previously, the extension of the EB-5 Regional Center programme was tied to the US federal government’s budget bill. Since Congress has an obligation to pass the government spending bill, it was quite easy for the EB-5 Regional Center programme to be extended. However, in 2020 the programme was removed from the budget bill and therefore required separate authorisation to avoid a lapse. Given the failure of Congress to authorise its extension on June 30, 2021, the EB-5 Regional Center programme lapsed and currently remains suspended. Yet, immigration lawyers are preparing for a rush of applications as the passage date is presumed to be on December 3, 2021.
According to EB-5 industry experts and lobbyists, the EB-5 Regional Center programme has been included in the Continuing Resolution draft expected to be passed on December 3. The EB-5 programme is expected to come back at the lower investment amount of $500,000. There are also talks that when the EB-5 programme is authorised, it will receive a 10-year extension. Although the EB-5 programme is expected to come back at $500,000 on December 3, it is also expected that the price will not remain the same for long.
The need for urgency
A price increase for the EB-5 programme may not be too far off, especially as Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, published a ratification in the Federal Register, in which he affirmed the Modernisation Rule of 2019. The Modernisation Rule was passed by the then-acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, under the Trump administration and raised the price of the EB-5 programme from $500,000 to $900,000. Despite the ratification of Mayorkas, on June 22, 2021, a US federal court vacated the Modernisation Rule of 2019, which effectively lowered the price back down to $500,000. However, the US federal court ruling does not inhibit Mayorkas from increasing the required investment to a higher amount in the future. Thus, for those looking to qualify at the lower $500,000 threshold, it would be important to gather documents in time for the December 3 filing rush period. By virtue of filing their application before any price increase occurs, applicants would effectively lock in their spots at the lower price amount. Moreover, there are payment plan options whereby you could invest $100,000 and file your application to qualify for the lower investment threshold, with the remainder due at a later date.
Given the fast-paced changes to the EB-5 programme, it is important for interested families to keep themselves up to date. The American Legal Center, the top immigration consultancy in Dubai, hosts monthly seminars to educate the market on the EB-5 programme and its related developments. The team of US licensed lawyers and professionals at The American Legal Center are constantly in talks with EB-5 experts and industry insiders to stay abreast of the latest developments pertaining to the programme. “We tried our best to disseminate the information about the price decrease in June and to reach as many families as possible,” says Shai Zamanian, Legal Director of The American Legal Center. “We will continue to host seminars to discuss pertinent topics such as upcoming changes to the EB-5 programme to ensure that families are ready to file their EB-5 applications in the upcoming December rush.”
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