In July 2020, President Trump signed into law the Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization. This executive order eliminated any special treatment Hong Kong received as a separate nation from China. Hong Kong is now viewed as the same country as China, which greatly affects Hong Kong’s immigration, including in regard to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. EB-5 investors from China’s mainland are subject to a large EB-5 visa backlog. With this new executive order, Hong Kong investors are now subject to the same backlog, which significantly increases the difficulty of immigrating into the United States from Hong Kong.
If this order is not reversed or new legislation is not passed, this will negatively affect both Hong Kongers and Mainland Chinese EB-5 investors. Chinese EB-5 investors are already subject to extremely long wait times for I-526 adjudication, and being grouped together with Hong Kong EB-5 applicants could lead to even longer wait times.
Hong Kong EB-5 applicants should consult their immigration attorney to determine their best options moving forward. Hong Kongers who are already in the system should expect to experience longer wait times than previously expected. With this new order, investors expecting to immigrate in two to three years may now end up waiting five or more years to complete the process.
Going forward, Hong Kongers planning to pursue the EB-5 program should carefully plan their investments while taking into account the extremely long wait times. Luckily, an EB-5 investor’s children are generally protected from “aging out” (turning 21), since the I-526 petition processing time is subtracted from the child’s age when determining eligibility. However, if an investor’s child gets married during the longer waiting period, they will lose their eligibility for a U.S. green card.
This new legislation is likely to be disheartening and frustrating for Hong Kongers planning an EB-5 investment. Experiencing such extremely long wait times can significantly disrupt an investor’s plans and future goals in the United States. However, this legislation is still relatively new and could possibly experience changes in the future. Those planning to attend a U.S. university or set up business ties in the United States should consider the long wait times and plan accordingly. Consulting an experienced EB-5 immigration attorney will help ensure that you are aware of all your options and that you can still achieve your immigration goals.