Since its launch three decades ago, the EB-5 Visa program has continued to grow in popularity and is a favorable option for high-net individuals looking to attain American citizenship. A highlight of this program has been the billions of dollars in capital that has been raised since 1990. This has further resulted in the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs across the nation, leading to a strengthened economy. The benefits have not been one-sided as the EB-5 program has seen thousands of investors annually attain the freedom to study, work, and live in the USA. Ultimately, most of the investors who have earned this right have ended up becoming permanent residents of America along with their families.
This win-win situation has caused lots of interest in the program, with potential investors from across the world seeking a reliable guide for EB-5 visas. Fortunately, as congress continues to reauthorize the program, there is an open channel for non-American citizens to gain citizenship through investment. This has been despite America getting out of the economic crisis it faced in the early ’90s, which was one of the main driving objectives behind the program. Nonetheless, as the EB-5 program has exploded in popularity, there has been a push to the re-evaluation of the details guiding the citizenship program. It is important to note that since the launch of EB-5 visas, there have been no significant changes until recently when new regulations were introduced.
These congress-backed regulations were first published on July 24th 2019, and begun taking effect as of November 21st, 2019. All potential investors that have been hoping to use this program as a channel to gain permanent residency in America must, therefore, abide by these changes. Some of the fundamental changes introduced to the EB-5 program are;
- An increase in the program’s investment amounts. This was the highlight of the new regulations introduced by congress, given that since 1990 the investment amount remained unchanged. The primary reason behind these changes was to cater to inflation over the three decades and ensure the program does not lose relevance. Today, investors looking to do business in Targeted Employment Area (TEA) must make a minimum investment of $900,000. This is a significant increase from the original $500,000. However, for investors looking to establish businesses in non-targeted employment areas, the minimum investment is $1,800,000.
- A new way for consideration of Targeted Employment Areas. Complaints on how the designations that constitute TEA were too malleable and did not reflect the realities of the situation mandated changes. As such, the mandate of determining these areas is now exclusively handled by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and not state or local governments. The USCIS will rely on census tracts and ensure there is an unemployment rate of at least 150% of the nation’s average. To attain the average labor force data, the USCIS will depend on the department of Economic Development and the Department of Labor in the state.
- The use of regional centers for investment. Potential investors do not have to start their investment projects from scratch when they can make a passive investment through regional centers. Nationally, regional centers handle up to 95% of the investments under this program, and these USCIS-designated companies offer a raised platform for creating value-based projects. One of the main advantages of using regional centers is investors find ease in creating a minimum of ten full-time jobs as specified under the program. Since the investments under this program must be ‘at-risk,’ it is vital investors settle for regional centers with a strong track record.
- A country cap for EB-5 visa issued to its residents. On average, the United States releases 10,000 EB-5 visas every year, and from this, there is a cap of 7.1% to each country. This represents 700 visas that can be issued to investors from a specific country any year. Countries with a high number of applicants such as India have found this to be highly restrictive.
However, regardless of country of origin, finding a trusted EB-5 investment company is critical in adhering to all these regulations. Investors interested in this channel to American citizenship must first consult with immigration attorneys before committing to the program. This will become the foundation of having the confidence that the legal channel will address all demands at hand.