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On December 15, 2015, the Congress of the United States extended the investor program EB-5 leading to an immigrant investor visa in the United States. Investor program EB-5 was extended without changes until the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2016.
Investor visa EB-5, its history and requirements
Investor visa EB-5 was first introduced in 1990. Foreign nationals who make an investment of at at least a million dollars and create at least ten jobs for American workers over a two year period get an immigrant visa through the investor program EB-5.
There are investment projects with reduced requirements to investments. EB-5 investors get their immigrant visas by investing at least $500,000 in projects located in rural areas or in regions with the higher than national level of unemployment.
Since 1992 investor visa EB-5 became available to people making investment in regional centers. Investors in regional centers may claim indirectly created jobs in the region that appear due to the operation of a regional center.
Moreover, while the people who invest money in a new enterprise have to actively participate in managing the business to get their immigrant visas through the investor program EB-5, investors in regional centers may be passive investors and do not have to participate in managing the regional center to get their investor visa EB-5.
Investor visa EB-5 has become particularly popular in the recent years
The participants of the EB-5 investor program have invested over thirteen billion dollars into the economy of the United States since 2008 and have created tens of thousands of jobs for American workers. Presently, there are over seven hundred fifty regional centers in the United States.
In 2014 the category of the EB-5 investor visa has reached its annual cap of 10,000 immigrant visas for the first time. Today there are over 17,000 applications pending with USCIS for immigrant visa through the EB-5 investor program.
Attempts to reform the EB-5 investor program
EB-5 investor program through regional centers was scheduled to end on September 30, 2015. Two senators suggested that the EB-5 investor program get reformed and the minimum investment into the regions with high unemployment increase to $800,000 and the minimum level of investment in all other regions increase to $1,200,000. You can see the draft of the reform of the EB-5 investor program at the following link.
The reform of the EB-5 investor program would have changed the definition of the targeted region with high level of unemployment and would have introduced stringent requirements to accounting of the regional centers.
Up until December 15, 2015 it seemed like the reform was inevitable. However, on December 15 the Congress decided to take the reform of the EB-5 investor program off of its agenda and extend the EB-5 investor visa program without changes until September 30, 2016. This extension was memorialized in article 575 on page 285 of the H.R. 2029.
What are we to expect from the EB-5 investor visa program?
Currently investors may continue making the minimal investment of $500,000 in regional centers to apply for the EB-5 investor visa. However, it is possible that the EB-5 investor program gets reformed and some of the changes will be made retroactive.
On the other hand, 2016 is the year of presidential elections in the United States and it is unusual to see any significant changes made to the law during election years, particularly to the immigration law.
We know one thing for a fact–the EB-5 investor visa has become even more attractive to prospective investors who see that significant changes are coming. The processing time for the EB-5 investor visa will become even longer.
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