USCIS Revises EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

A new rule from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to change the employment-based EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program will take effect on November 21, 2019. The rule includes a number of changes meant to modernize the program. The rule originated prior to the current Administration. As a result, immigrant investors should take note to determine if they must take action related to their EB-5 petition.

Employment-Based Immigration Preferences

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is one of several employment-based immigration preferences that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers. These employment-based immigration preferences include:

  • First Preference EB-1: for persons of extraordinary skill and ability
  • Second Preference EB-2: for persons of extraordinary skill and ability, requires Labor Certification (unless petitioner obtains waiver)
  • Third Preference EB-3: for professionals, skilled workers, and other workers, requires Labor Certification
  • Fourth Preference EB-4: for “special immigrants” including religious workers
  • Fifth Preference EB-5: for business investors

What are the Requirements of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program?

The USCIS administers the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Within this program, immigrant investors, as well as their spouses and children, become eligible to apply for a Green Card (permanent residence in the US) as long as the following conditions are met:

  1. Invest in a commercial operation as per the program’s requirements
  2. Plan to create or allow the preservation of up to 10 permanent full-time jobs

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created by the US Congress as one part of broader economic stimulus initiatives in 1990. The program was meant to help counteract the effects of the US economic recession during that time period.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Results

The current EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program accounts for a significant amount of direct economic investment. The American Action Forum notes that immigrant investors account for:

  • Up to $20 billion in investments in the US economy since 2008
  • Over $5 billion in investments during 2017
  • Creation of over 174,000 jobs, equating to 16 jobs for each investor (60% more than the program requires)

Changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

USCIS will implement five distinct changes. These changes will update the program and clarify processes and procedures:

  1. Increase minimum investment amounts from $1 million to $1.8 million.
  2. Increase minimum investment amounts in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) from $500,000 to $900,000.
  3. Tie minimum investment amounts to inflation with the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), at five-year intervals.
  4. Allow certain investors to keep the priority date of their previously approved EB-5 petition when they file a new petition.
  5. Clarify rules on when family members must independently file to remove conditions on their permanent residence.
  6. Change certain TEA designations in order to direct investment to those areas that are in most need of the program.
  7. Increase consistency of definitions for areas of high unemployment.

What Does This Mean?

Immigrant Investors with EB-5 petitions on file should review the new requirements to determine if changes to their petition might be necessary. Also, immigrants looking at filing an EB-5 petition should be aware of the new requirements. Companies that are currently planning for investments as a result of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program should take note of the new rule’s minimum investment amounts as well as TEA designations.


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