After years of discussion and deliberation, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has published a final rule on July 24, 2019 that makes major changes to the EB-5 program that provides conditional U.S. permanent residence (or “green cards”) to qualifying investors.
EB-5 is a category of green cards for individuals who invest a minimum amount of money in the United States and create at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. The most jarring change to the EB-5 program is a large increase in the minimum investment amounts. Previously, the standard minimum amount was $1 million, a figure set nearly 30 years ago; that minimum investment has been raised to $1.8 million. In addition, foreign investors were able to invest $500,000 (half of the standard amount) if they opened a new commercial enterprise in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or invested through a regional center. Under the new rule, an investment in a TEA or regional center will increase to $900,000. These minimum investment amounts will automatically adjust for inflation every five years.
The new rule also makes several other changes to the EB-5 program, such as changing how TEA designations are made, in an attempt to maintain Congressional intent to spur jobs in areas of high unemployment. It also clarifies the procedures for removing conditions on permanent residence and allows EB-5 petitioners to keep their original priority date on subsequent petitions.
It's important to note that the rule making these changes will not go into effect until November 21, 2019. Therefore, it is still possible for investors to file EB-5 petitions under the existing regulations for the next four months. Also, investors with EB-5 petitions currently pending have been reassured by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the final rule that these changes apply to those who file on or after the effective date.
For further assistance with EB-5 matters, please contact Kelly Fortier, and Carrie Ziegler Thomas.