** LEGAL UPDATE **
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published new rules on July 24, 2019 for the EB-5 investor visa program. Up to now, the minimum investment amount was $1 million. Investments in “targeted employment areas” (areas with high unemployment rates) must be at least $500,000.
You can invest either in your own enterprise or in an approved “Regional Center,” which pools $500,000 investments from multiple investors for large-scale investment projects. In either case, your investment needs to directly or indirectly create ten full-time jobs for local workers.
The new rules, which go into effect November 21, 2019, raise the minimum investment amounts to $1.8 million in general and $900,000 in targeted employment areas (TEAs) and shift responsibility for identifying what constitutes a targeted employment area from states to USCIS.
The current rule affords state governments some flexibility in designating TEAs to attract EB-5 investments. The new rule provides less flexibility and defines TEAs as rural areas or areas that have unemployment of at last 150% of the national average. “Rural” in turn refers to areas outside metropolitan statistical areas or beyond the outer boundary of any city or town of 20,000 or more residents.
Another change in the rules will require dependent family members (spouses and children under age 21) to submit separate petitions to remove the conditions on their initial two-year residency if the principal investor did not include the dependents in his or her petition to remove the conditions on residency.
Finally, the new rules allow some EB-5 investors to retain their “priority dates” from previously approved EB-5 petitions. This will benefit investors who need to submit a subsequent EB-5 petition. Rather than starting over in the green card queue, they will retain their earlier filing date. With backlogs developing in the EB-5 category lately, this will prove helpful to possibly avoid delays in obtaining permanent residency.
Investors hoping to get in under the wire will need to make their investments and file their I-526 petition in time for USCIS to receive them by November 21, 2019. A postmark with that date is not sufficient; you must ensure that the petition is in USCIS's mailbox by then.
Effective Date: November 21, 2019