Starting January 20, 2021, the United States can expect some major changes as President-Elect Biden assumes his role in the White House. Biden’s government differs starkly from the incumbent Trump administration, which is widely known for its harsh attitudes toward immigration, so immigration is one of the key areas where changes can be expected. The imminent changes have EB-5 stakeholders wondering what this presidential transition means for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which has infused billions of dollars into the U.S. economy throughout its more than 30 years of existence. Those with active EB-5 investments were fortunate enough to survive the Trump administration’s immigration ban throughout 2020, but a friendlier government attitude toward immigration could ameliorate various aspects of the program. So, what will a Biden presidency look like for the EB-5 program?
How Biden Has Previously Treated the EB-5 Program
The best indication of future behavior is past behavior. With this in mind, let’s briefly travel back in history to explore how Biden has treated the EB-5 program in the past. Back in 1990, when Biden was a U.S. senator for Delaware, he had the opportunity to vote on whether to pass the Immigration Act of 1990, a comprehensive immigration act that included, among many other immigration programs, the EB-5 program. He proved his partiality to immigration by positioning himself among the 81 senators who voted to pass the act. Of course, his support for the EB-5 program specifically cannot be ascertained through such an action, but his vote suggests he at least does not oppose it.
Fast-forward 25 years, and Biden is vice president in the Obama administration. Obama’s government recognized the various merits of the EB-5 program, highlighting the program’s unique ability to funnel foreign capital into in-need areas, termed “targeted employment areas (TEAs)” by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, the Obama administration fell short in terms of action, failing to bring about program reform and subjecting the EB-5 Regional Center Program to continued periodical reauthorizations instead of making the program permanent.
How the Biden Administration Views Immigration
Biden has not voiced his thoughts on the EB-5 program in recent times, so obtaining a precise viewpoint is impossible. Nonetheless, his website reveals a wealth of information regarding how his government sees immigration as a whole. Contrary to the Trump administration, Biden has positioned himself as immigrant-friendly, but whether his fondness for immigration extends to the EB-5 program has yet to be determined. Those involved with EB5 investments hope for improvement in the EB-5 program, including in issues such as the disconcertingly low I-526 processing times.
Biden’s partiality to immigration is hardly a secret. His government has positioned it as a key focus of its mission, stating the ambition to bring the U.S. immigration system into the 21st century. With the right adjustments, the Biden administration can leverage the economic, cultural, and social benefits of immigration for the betterment of the United States, and Biden’s website says as much. Biden’s government is dedicated to cultivating innovation and entrepreneurship through immigration, noting the benefits employment-based immigration can bring even to disadvantaged U.S. cities. The website also cites figures to back up its assertions of the effectiveness of immigration for economic growth: about $2 trillion is added to the U.S. economy each year by way of immigration. Biden is a clear proponent of immigration.
The EB-5 program fits in perfectly to much of what Biden praises about immigration. As a residency-by-investment program, the EB-5 program functions as a bridge between successful foreign investors with valuable EB-5 investment capital and high-unemployment census tracts in the United States in desperate need of economic stimulation and job creation. Every year, the EB-5 program brings in millions of EB5 investment dollars, strengthening local U.S. economies and helping thousands of U.S. workers obtain new employment. In essence, the EB-5 program encompasses all the key benefits of immigration that the Biden administration admires.
A focus on the EB-5 program could help Biden and his administration achieve the effects they desire to realize through immigration. With a bit of effort spent on EB-5 program reform and some pressure on USCIS to adjudicate EB-5 petitions in a timely manner, Biden could fix the systemic problems in the EB-5 program and ensure the presence of a strong, popular immigrant investor program to independently funnel EB-5 investment capital into high-unemployment areas with minimal government intervention.
Using the EB-5 Program to Revive the U.S. Economy Post-Pandemic
Entering the White House in 2021 means Biden will be the president responsible for handling the post-pandemic cleanup when the COVID-19 pandemic finally subsides. The pandemic, which has sparked a myriad of headaches for EB-5 investment participants, has destroyed aspects of the U.S. economy that Biden will need to restore, placing a heavy burden on his shoulders. The EB-5 program represents the perfect opportunity for Biden to revitalize the U.S. economy while encouraging immigration to the country. Successful foreign investors and their family members promise to constitute productive members of U.S. society, and their EB5 investment capital promises to create scores of new, full-time jobs for unemployed U.S. workers.