The COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the world, ruining countries and economies alike. In the United States alone, the pandemic has affected individual lives, jobs, the economy, and even immigration policy. Immigration has been almost completely halted during this time due to President Trump’s immigration ban and the temporary closure of U.S. embassies and consulates. However, despite these obstacles, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an optimal time for foreign nationals to invest in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
One of the largest downsides to the EB-5 program is the unreasonably long wait times. Some people making an EB-5 investment wait up to two years for their I-526 petition to be adjudicated. Those in backlogged countries often wait even longer. These wait times can be incredibly stressful for EB-5 investors, and there are even legal precedents that have ruled the wait times “unreasonable,” forcing United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediately process some EB-5 petitions. Although these wait times are not a good thing, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the perfect time to wait. With most of the world waiting to return to normal, those planning an EB5 investment will not miss out on any opportunities while waiting for adjudication during the pandemic. When the world finally begins to return to normal, the investor’s waiting period may be coming to an end.
Prospective investors also need to spend an ample amount of time planning their EB5 investment. Potential applicants should do thorough research on their chosen EB-5 project, the project developer, and any EB-5 regional centers that they may work with. Investors also need time to gather all the documentation that they will submit with their I-526 petition to prove they meet the job creation requirement, the source-of-funds requirements, and many more requirements. Now is the perfect time for investors to begin planning their investment and filling out their I-526 petitions, since everything is halted. By the time an investor is prepared to submit their I-526 petition, the travel ban may be lifted, and operations may have returned to normal at U.S. embassies and consulates.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in an increase in the available EB-5 visas in FY2021. Because of the decrease in immigration throughout 2020, there was a large amount of unused family-based immigration visas at the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2020. At the end of every fiscal year, unused family-based visas are rolled over to the employment-based programs for the next fiscal year. Because of the large amount of leftover family-based visas in FY2020, the number of available EB-5 visas in FY2021 is nearly double the annual average, allowing twice as many investors as normal to receive EB-5 visas in FY2021.
The Potential of a COVID-19 Vaccine
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has consistently worked to learn more about the virus and offer safety guidelines to keep Americans safe. The government began Operation Warp Speed to develop a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible. Although there has not been an approved vaccine as of November 11, 2020, a CDC report on October 14, 2020, suggests that a vaccine could be available by the end of 2020. A safe and approved COVID-19 vaccine could be the determining factor in how quickly the United States returns to normal. Allowing business to completely reopen and immigration to resume would mean that foreign nationals could resume their EB-5 journeys and enjoy the benefits of a future in the United States. Those who make an EB-5 investment now could be on the perfect timeline to enjoy a new future in the United States right as everything returns to normal.