The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has provided permanent residency status to close to 100,000 immigrants in the past three decades. For much of this history, the EB-5 Regional Center Program has been largely responsible for that change, attracting billions in foreign capital and creating countless jobs for U.S. workers. However, the regional center program is subject to repeated reauthorizations from Congress. Unless it is reauthorized before each sunset date, the program will not be continued.
Historically, the regional center program’s reauthorization has occurred as part of a larger government spending bill. This has all but ensured that the program would be reauthorized. However, Congress decided to separate the program and the government spending bill in December 2020, creating a new sunset date for the EB-5 Regional Center Program of June 30, 2021. The regional center program may now face increased scrutiny, as it is not connected to a larger spending package. Several industry figures have expressed concern that the program will not be renewed unless reform comes to the EB-5 program.
Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley to the rescue—the senatorial duo has introduced the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act. This bill would improve the EB5 investment program’s integrity by tackling fraud and increasing protections for investors. Perhaps most importantly, the bill would reauthorize the program until 2024, ending the reauthorization issue for the time being.
If passed, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act may also make it harder for some applicants to invest due to stricter requirements, which makes it important for investors to make their EB-5 investment before June 30, 2021. As long as an investor submits their I-526 petition before the deadline of June 30, they will likely not have to worry about the changes this bill will bring about.
Why Should Investors Work with a Regional Center
EB-5 investors can either make an EB-5 investment directly in a project or through a regional center. However, most investors choose to make their EB-5 investment through a regional center for the numerous benefits this pathway offers. One significant benefit is that those who invest through regional centers can count indirect and induced jobs to reach the program’s job creation requirements. This increases the chances of the investor receiving U.S. permanent residency. Working with a regional center also typically reduces the responsibilities for the investor, who can typically restrict their managerial role to a limited partnership with the new commercial enterprise (NCE).
Working with experts in the EB-5 industry is another significant advantage for investors who work with a reputable regional center. Investors should conduct diligence on regional centers under consideration to ensure that they are making their investment through an EB-5 regional center that is reputable and trustworthy.
What is an Immigration Lawyer’s Role?
All EB-5 investors, including regional center investors, should find a qualified and reputable EB-5 immigration attorney. The EB-5 investment program is complicated and requires an attorney who has extensive experience, and investors should conduct diligence when conducting their search for an EB-5 immigration attorney.
Important considerations include:
- The attorney’s experience in the EB-5 industry
- The number of EB-5 investors the attorney has worked with
- The attorney’s track record for I-526 and I-829 petitions
How Should Investors Approach the I-526 Petition?
The first petition that an EB-5 investor files with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is called the I-526 petition. This petition asks for information about the investor, the investor’s family members, the investor’s EB-5 project, and the capital the investor plans to use to make their EB-5 investment.
Many investors find the requirement to prove that all funds were obtained lawfully challenging to satisfy. Proving the lawful source of funds can be difficult if there is not extensive documentation available. In some cases, the investor may need to request documentation from their government or company if they no longer possess the required documentation.
An experienced EB-5 immigration attorney can be helpful when navigating the source-of-funds documentation process. Qualified EB-5 attorneys have extensive experience with the types of sources of funds and documentation that USCIS is familiar with, and working with one can be critical as investors prepare their I-526 petition. Given that investors may face some delays when preparing their I-526 petition, they should start preparing to apply as soon as possible and send in their application before the de facto June 30, 2021, deadline.