New Rules in EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act
USCIS administers the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.
On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (“RIA”), which created new requirements for the EB-5 immigrant visa category and the Regional Center Program.
This article briefly introduces some important new regulations in RIA.
Set-Aside Visa Categories:
Based on current USCIS guidance, TEA (Targeted Employment Area), and infrastructure projects investors now get access to exclusive set-aside visa categories. An EB-5 TEA is a designation created by the US Congress to encourage investment in areas of need, such as areas with high unemployment rates or rural areas. The new act established an annual set-aside of 10% of high-unemployment TEAs and an annual set-aside of 20% of rural TEAs. These set-asides offer post-RIA investors a potentially immediately available visa upon I-526E approval, even if they are from a backlogged country. These can allow Chinese and Indian investors to immigrate years faster than otherwise possible.
Minimum Investment Requirements:
Also, RIA changed the program’s minimum investment requirements to reflect economic adjustments. The new minimum investment for an EB-5 Green Card is $1,050,000—which is lowered to $800,000 for projects in targeted employment areas (TEAs) and infrastructure projects that create at least ten permanent full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
To further make the “investment” part of the EB-5 program more effective, the act allows for concurrent visa filing. This enables individuals to apply for an adjustment of U.S. resident status (I-485) while also filing a petition for the EB-5 program (I-526E). This will boost efficiency and make it easier for foreign nationals to live while their paperwork is in progress. Thanks to concurrent filing, EB-5 investors can get an employment authorization document (EAD) and travel permit in as fast as 60 days.
Retain of the Investment for a Minimum of Two Years：
Investors who submit petitions following the implementation of the RIA are no longer obligated to retain their investment during the entire conditional residence period. Rather, it is required that their investment be anticipated to remain in place for a minimum of two years, contingent upon meeting job creation criteria. USCIS considers the two-year period to begin from the date the qualifying investment was made. If the investment was made more than two years before filing the I-526 or I-526E petition, the investment should still be in place when individuals file to evaluate eligibility.
Terminated Regional Center:
The RIA introduced a provision (INA 203(b)(5)(M) that permits good faith investors associated with terminated regional centers to retain eligibility in specific circumstances. USCIS interprets this provision to apply to investors associated with terminated regional centers, whether they filed before or after the RIA. For pre-RIA investors, USCIS provides flexibility in responding to a regional center termination notice until the related Form I-526 petition is decided. USCIS may issue Requests for Evidence or Notices of Intent to Deny ensuring eligibility. In some cases, the response deadline may be extended to 180 days, reducing operational burdens and helping good faith investors retain eligibility.
Meanwhile, because of concerns about fraud and national security, the act includes stronger measures to protect the program’s integrity and objectives. The legislation mandates background checks for regional center leaders, project developers, and other associated individuals. Adding further bite, the act empowers the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct inspections, ensure compliance, and deter illegal activity.
Anderson and Associates Law, P.C. has a team of experienced attorneys and law clerks who have handled a variety of EB-5 immigration matters and assisted applicants in obtaining green cards. If you have any questions regarding this type of Green Card application, please feel free to reach out to Anderson and Associates Law, P.C. at email@example.com.
Author: Meiwei Zhang. Meiwei Zhang is an associate at Anderson & Associates Law, P.C. Meiwei focuses her practice on business immigration and general corporate matters. Prior to joining the firm, Meiwei was a lawyer with six years of experience handling complex corporate deals and disputes in China. Meiwei earned her LLM degree in corporate law from New York University and her Juris Master's degree from Renmin University of China.