EB-5 in Flux: Navigating Political Shifts and Program Changes

Updated: June 28, 2024

WRITTEN BY

EB-5 Insider Team

A group of professionals with years of experience helping people immigrate to the US

Note: This article is for informational purposes only. We are not providing legal advice or selling securities. The articles and content on this site are of a general informational nature only and should not be relied upon for individual circumstances.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program was launched in 1990 to help stimulate the U.S. economy by utilizing foreign investment to create full-time jobs. Fast forward to today, and the program has evolved, becoming the preferred way for many foreign nationals to acquire U.S. residency with a path to citizenship.

Foreign nationals can gain residency by investing at least $800,000 in a qualified new commercial enterprise (NCE) or regional center project in a targeted area. Alternatively, the minimum investment amount is $1,050,000.

Although designed to stimulate the U.S. economy, the EB-5 Program isn’t exempt from the woes of politics. Various Presidents have developed the program, streamlining the process, while others have allowed aspects to lapse before being re-implemented later.

As the 2024 U.S. presidential election beckons, research shows that immigration remains a top priority for 57% of Americans. Biden has always been more open to immigration, while former President Trump cracked down on immigration during his term in office but didn’t specifically target EB-5 visas.

Economic circumstances and political changes can affect the EB-5 program. Hiring an immigration attorney specializing in EB-5 visas can help you navigate this ever-changing landscape.

Political Influences on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program

Domestic politics does not impact the EB-5 Investor Program alone. Global politics, particularly that of the countries with the most applicants for the EB-5 visa, matter just as much.

Chinese applicants in 2023 became nervous after the Chinese government increased its campaign to prevent funds from leaving the country when US-China relations were already frosty. However, these concerns haven’t come to bear, and Chinese investors continue to utilize the EB-5 Investor Program, specifically set-aside visas, to gain permanent residence through investment.

Likewise, there’s also been an influx of Russian applicants to the EB-5 Investor Program. There were 200 investors from Russia in 2019, and this number is likely to have skyrocketed following the impact of the war in Ukraine. However, potential Russian investors face several hurdles, including the lack of a bilateral treaty.

While 40% of billionaires from Russia have more than one passport, it’s unlikely that the EB-5 Investor Program will be adapted to offer a more streamlined path, unlike how set-aside visas were designed to help lift the application burden for countries like India and China, whose applicants far outweighed the 7% allocation per country.

Alternatively, Congress itself can impact the EB-5 Investor Program. The notorious Eagle Act reappeared in 2023, a bipartisan bill attempting to eliminate per-country caps for employment-based immigration programs. While this would benefit Chinese and Indian investors, those from other countries would no longer benefit from the 7% country cap. However, a bill like the Eagle Act is unlikely to be ratified, even with amendments.

Recent Political Changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program

Political changes can impact every aspect of the EB-5 Program, from filing fees to the application process. In April 2024, the USCIS hiked EB-5 filing fees dramatically. The I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor) and I-526E (Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor) petitions jumped from $3,675 to $11,160.

Similarly, the filing cost for an I-829 (Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status) increased from $3,750 to $9,525. Regional Centers also experienced an increase in filing costs for I-956 petitions (Application for Regional Center Designation) from $17,795 to $47,695.

Changes under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act

2022 saw significant political change with the EB-5 Program. President Biden introduced the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act, which renewed the Regional Center program for five years and implemented several changes for individuals throughout the EB-5 industry.

Concurrent filing for adjustment of status and the introduction of reserved visas has streamlined the process for investors already residing in the United States. Rural, TEA, and infrastructure projects mean foreign investment can be directed at parts of the U.S. most in need of economic support while providing a faster route for investors from countries with more applicants.

Twenty percent of EB-5 visas for every fiscal year are now set aside for rural areas, 10 percent for areas with high unemployment, and 2 percent for infrastructure projects. Investors from countries with the highest applicants can now effectively skip the queue by directing their investment to one of these qualifying projects.

Less noted political changes include developing relations between the United States and India. Almost 100 nations have treaty country status with the United States, enabling citizens to apply for E-2 Investor visas.

Although a separate program, an E-2 Visa can be transitioned to an EB-5 Visa to gain permanent residency with a path to U.S. citizenship, the government has been considering giving India treaty country status, which would reduce the wait time for EB-5 visas by providing an alternative option.

Strategies for Navigating Political Uncertainty

The best way to navigate political uncertainty and policy changes is to work with an immigration attorney specializing in EB-5 Visas. They’ll provide legal advice on improving your chances of progressing through each stage and clarify the program’s requirements.

Along with helping to manage your application, an immigration attorney will stay up to date with the latest developments in the EB-5 program. Many of them work extensively with lawmakers, policy advisors, and other stakeholders in the EB-5 industry.

Applying for an EB-5 Visa is a time-consuming process. An attorney is best placed to ensure your application meets all the requirements and provide updates on any potential changes that may impact your application.

How to Stay Informed About Political Developments

The best way to stay informed about potential political developments is to follow legitimate news outlets that report on American politics. It’s best to choose publications and networks based in the United States but be aware that bias does exist.

Our website’s ‘resources’ section contains articles and guides we aim to keep updated with the latest political developments. Alternatively, the USCIS website has an ‘alerts and latest news’ section that details any legislative changes or clarification provided by government organizations.

Start the EB-5 Visa Process Today with EB-5 Insider

The EB-5 Visa has undergone extensive political changes in recent years, most notably the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act. These changes have made it even more appealing to foreign nationals seeking permanent residency through investment.

EB-5 Insider simplifies your path to U.S. residency and citizenship through investment. We work with foreign nationals internationally to streamline the application process. We’ll help you obtain a permanent U.S. green card for an investment of as little as $800,000.

Start applying for an EB-5 visa today, or contact our team for more information.

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