Since its creation in 1990, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has helped thousands of foreign nationals permanently relocate to the United States. Although the program has been active for 30 years, it has not faced many significant changes during its lifetime. However, with the 2020 presidential election at the forefront of major media, many are wondering how the changes brought by president-elect Joe Biden may affect the EB-5 program.
Aaron Grau, executive director of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), stated that some changes to the EB-5 program are likely to happen regardless of who wins the presidential election. As of November 18, the EB-5 regional center program is set to expire on December 11, 2020, which means that the government will have to vote to reauthorize program. It is expected that they will conduct a thorough review before reauthorization, and this might lead to new changes. President Trump will still be in office during this time and could make new changes to the program, and it’s possible that president-elect Biden could potentially make additional changes once in office.
How Trump and Biden Could Impact EB-5
When created, the EB-5 program had broad bipartisan support, passing in the House of Representatives with a vote of 423 to 3. However, the program is considered much more controversial today, making most politicians hesitant to become closely involved with the program. Because of this, neither Trump or Biden have taken any clear sides of support or opposition to the EB-5 program.
Although President Trump has a reputation for tough immigration policies, he does not appear to be opposed to the EB-5 program. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump issued an immigration ban in April 2020, but EB-5 investors were excluded from this ban. When the ban was extended until the end of 2020, he expanded the order to include additional immigrants, but EB-5 investors were still excluded. It would seem that President Trump sees the importance of the EB-5 program and the potential economic benefit that EB5 investment can bring to the United States.
In contrast to President Trump, Biden is known for taking a more pro-immigration stance, but that does not mean that his policies are guaranteed to be good for the EB-5 program. It is possible that Biden will choose to focus on other areas of immigration to avoid the controversy that surrounds the EB-5 program. Biden may also work to improve the reputation of the United States to foreign nationals so that the country is globally seen as welcoming to immigrants. These are all just speculations, as it is impossible to know how a Biden presidency will affect the EB-5 program or U.S. immigration more generally.
The Importance of the U.S. Senate
Although most of the focus is on the presidential election, it is important to note that the U.S. Senate oversees Homeland Security, which controls United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This means that whichever party wins majority in the Senate could determine what changes are made to the EB-5 program.
Because the EB-5 program is a non-partisan program, there is support and opposition from members of each party. In fact, a better way to predict which politicians will support the program is by evaluating whether they favor rural interests or urban interests rather than looking at their party affiliations. The targeted employment area (TEA) rules make the program more favorable to those in rural areas or impoverished urban areas, with new regulations from the November 2019 Modernization Rule shifting the primary benefits of EB-5 investment in TEAs from urban centers to rural areas.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy have demonstrated the bi-partisan collaboration that the EB-5 program can bring about. For years, the two senators have worked together to push for EB-5 reform that would increase integrity measures in the program. Aaron Grau stated that the EB-5 community welcomes change that would improve integrity throughout the program. This reform could also affect the requirements of the EB-5 program, but if and when these changes may come is still undetermined.