Breaking News! Congress Reauthorizes the EB-5 Regional Center Program

Posted on Mar 11, 2022 by Rakesh Patel

Late last evening, the US Congress reauthorized the EB-5 Regional Center Program by a vote of 68-31.  This is great news for current EB-5 Regional Center investors and those who are looking to utilize the EB-5 Regional Center program moving forward.

As a part of the reauthorization, it is expected that USCIS will immediately start adjudicating EB-5 applications that were filed before the expiration of the program.  It is important to note that all applications that were previously filed will be adjudicated under the regulations that were in place at the time of filing.

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act includes the following meaningful changes to the program:

Investment Amounts 

  • $800,000 in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) – rural and high unemployment areas
  • $1,050,000 in non-TEAs
  • On Jan. 1, 2027, and every five years thereafter, investment amounts adjust for inflation.

High unemployment TEAs are to be determined only by USCIS (and not state or local authority) and are valid for two years from project exemplar filing, renewable in two-year increments.

Reserved EB-5 Visas

  • Set-asides are a percentage of the 10,000 EB-5 visas available every year.
  • 20% for rural projects
  • 10% for distressed urban area projects
  • 2% for infrastructure projects
  • Unused visas “carry over” in the same category in the immediately following year
  • Unused visas in any category made generally available for any project, in the year immediately following the “carry-over” year

Indirect Job Limits

  • Can count for no more than 90% of the jobs
  • Only 75% of jobs can be from impacts from construction lasting less than two years (and those count only to the extent of the fraction of a two-year period).

Project Requests

  • A Regional Center must file an application for project approval with USCIS, but investors can file I-526 petitions once the required project request is filed.
  • USCIS to perform a site visit prior to each project, giving at least 24 hours’ notice.

Increased Regional Center Oversight and Regulations

  • Endure a USCIS audit every five years
  • Demanding applications and annual reports must include broad certifications of securities and other compliance and conditions, including all marketing fees paid.
  • Sanctions for misstatements or noncompliance including suspension, fines up to 10%of capital raised, debarment of individuals, or termination

Integrity Fund

  • To support a new “integrity fund,” in addition to all filing fees for application, each Regional Center must pay an annual fee of $20,000, or $10,000 for those with 20 or fewer investors per year, and each Regional Center investor must pay $1,000 with a I-526 petition.

I-829 Changes

  • Investors filing I-829 petitions still may be “actively in the process of creating the employment required,” but the investor must make an additional filing a year later showing that the jobs have been created.

Filing Fees

  • The legislation directs USCIS to charge what it takes to process various filings between 90 and 240 days, with the shortest time for investors filing I-526 petitions after project requests by RCs.

At the Patel Law Group, we are able to navigate the complexities of the EB-5 program and help investors with their immigration process.  If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us as we celebrate the reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center program.