The EB-5 Program, also known as Investor Visa, is the most popular and efficient strategy for obtaining the dreamed Green Card through investment in the USA. The Program basically offered two types of investment: 1 – Direct Investment, where the candidate must create and develop a business in the USA and 2 – Passively, where the candidate simply adds value to a Regional Center (an existing project and authorized by the US immigration authorities), and does not need to participate in the management of the business. The second modality is chosen by the vast majority of investors who choose to invest in the EB-5 Program. This modality is provided for by law and needs to be renewed every 5 years by the US Congress, but it expired in June 2021, leaving only modality 1 (direct investment) as an option. Finally, in March 2022, the modality via Regional Centers was revalidated, with some changes. Read on to learn about the new rules for Regional Centers and how you can apply for the EB-5 Visa.
What is a Regional Center
Regional centers are businesses already authorized by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) and that can receive investments for the purposes of the EB-5 Program. They are for-profit companies that meet the requirements of the Program, contributing to the development of the American economy and generating jobs.
By choosing to make the investment through a Regional Center, the foreign investor will be passively contributing the values to an existing project. It is not necessary to participate in the day-to-day running of the business and all the bureaucracy, risks and challenges that running a business abroad brings.
The Regional Centers exist precisely to facilitate the reception of these resources via EB-5 and to promote the economy of less developed places through new jobs.
Reauthorized EB-5 Regional Centers: What has changed?
As already mentioned, the modality via Regional Centers for application in the EB-5 Program expired on June 30, 2021. The new authorization of Regional Centers restores the program until September 30, 2027 and adds a wide set of provisions. Here are the main ones:
Key provisions in the bill are:
- New Investment Level for all EB-5 Visas – For 30 years from 1990 to 2021 the investment level was $500,000 in a TEA (Targeted Employment Area) and $1,000,000 otherwise. This bill sets those levels at $800,000 for rural, TEA or Infrastructure projects, and $1,050,000 for other projects. These investment levels will be adjusted for inflation every 5 years, starting January 1, 2027.
- Regional Center Reauthorization – After being lapsed since June 30, 2021, this bill reinstates the program until September 30, 2027 and adds a broad set of integrity provisions effective 60 days after the bill is signed into law.
- Targeted Employment Areas – TEAs will be set federally by the Department of Homeland Security.
- Infrastructure Projects – A new category of projects is created for the funding of government (federal, state or municipal including agencies) projects. This is a new concept for EB-5.
- Rural Priority – To help drive more rural projects, 20% of all EB-5 visas in a given year will be reserved for rural projects which will be given prioritized processing.
- Integrity Measures – To provide greater protections to investors, all individuals involved in the EB-5 program must not have committed fraud or have other convictions. Required investor reporting and federal auditing of regional centers is established.
- Integrity Fund – A new fund made from a $20,000 annual regional center fee and an additional $1,000 investor filing fee will be created to pay for audits, site visits and ensuring participants comply with immigration laws.
- Processing Times Study – Requires the Director of Homeland Security to conduct a fee study to determine how to achieve the following processing time goals:
- I-924 New Project Adjudication – 180 days
- I-526 New Investor Adjudication – 180 days in general, 90 days for TEA and Rural
- I-829 Removal of Conditions Adjudication – 240 days
Any required adjustment of fees based on this study would come into effect no later than 14 months after the bill is signed into law.
- Protection from Expiration – To avoid the legal uncertainty current investors have faced, this new law ensures that if there is an expiration in the future, existing investors will be processed by USCIS.
Interested in applying for the EB-5 Visa?
If you are interested in applying for the EB-5 Program through a Regional Center, we strongly recommend hiring a law firm specializing in the Program. AMG Realty works in partnership with several immigration offices in Florida. To find out more, contact me now and let’s chat on WhatsApp: +1 305 318 6968 (Heloisa Arazi).