EB-5, V2.0

Here I am, scrunched in coach, next to an extremely big and irritated fellow, juggling my laptop on my knees in the bulkhead row, 4 hours into MIA-LAX.   When I land in 1 hour and 20 minutes, I will next climb into another similarly-sized coach seat for the next 15 hours and 25 minutes – hopefully with a more compact seatmate – as I continue on to Melbourne, Australia to visit my son, Alex “Crocodile” Latour.

The things one does for one’s children.

As an extremely frequent flyer who crosses the oceans on a monthly basis and who has enough upgrade miles to sit up in the cockpit, 22 hours in coach is, well…unusual for me.  But that is not the problem.  The problem, you see, and the reason I will probably be carried off the plane in rigor-mortis-like seated position, is with Congress’ inability to commit to the EB-5 Investor visa 25 years after they first created the category!

You see, here is what happened:  my original journey took me from Miami to the Far East for my regular EB-5 travel, with a nice direct connection in Business Class from Vietnam to Australia.  But due to our government’s failure to do what they are hired to do and their tradition of kicking the can down the sidewalk repeatedly, September 30th came and went, now it’s December 11, and our prospective investors have absolutely NO clue what to make of all this.  So we pulled the plug on the Asia visit at the last minute and here I miserably sit, too squeezed to type comfortably…yet too cheap to have sprung for a $14,000 Business Class seat.  Sigh.

If I place primary blame on Congress – and I most certainly do – secondary blame falls squarely on the shoulders of my hyperbolic EB-5 attorneys, who have been pumping out more absurd, unfounded, and baseless blather about “the new EB-5 changes” since the beginning of the summer than a gaggle of Donald Trumps on meth.   Although less subject to the myth that “if it’s on the Web, it’s true” than most Americans, prospective EB-5 investors worldwide have been subjected to infinite conjecture, fabricated speculation, and, worst of all, shameless hucksterism in the form of “better buy now before the price goes up” monologues.  No WONDER EB-5 prospects are confused, and who can blame them?

As we again sit in EB-5 limbo, we have two very different pieces of legislation under consideration:  one slam-dunks the EB-5…who needs these dang ferners creating U.S. jobs anyway??  The other, with more than a modicum of common sense, purports to leave the $500,000 TEA/Rural price of admission unchanged and, more importantly to restore the 10,000 cap to what Congress intended when the EB-5 was created via IMMACT90: 10,000 investors, not a total of 10,000 people counting investors AND eligible family members.  But despite the Jekyll-Hyde contrast between the two proposed bills, the truth is that this is CONGRESS in action and ABSOLUTELY KNOW ONE HAS ANY IDEA WHATSOEVER WHAT WILL ACTUALLY HAPPEN.  So, to perhaps clear things up for folks wandering through the muck of EB-5 blog speculation, let’s ask the questions we need to be asking:

Will the price of a TEA/Rural EB-5 investment go from $500,000 to $800,000?  Maybe. 

Will investors who have pending I-526s with $500,000 projects be protected from having to cough up another $300,000 if the price DOES go up?  No one has ANY idea.

Will a Regional Center I-924 filed before December 11th be protected by the $500,000 price if it DOES goe up?  No clue.

Will USCIS economists who have long battled the totally bogus calculations used in defining “new job creation” via tenant occupancy throw in the towel?  Don’t bet on it.

Will everyone just forget all the media pointing out the convoluted TEA methodologies which make new skyscrapers in the most exclusive parts of Manhattan and Miami EB-5 capital magnets because they fall into fabricated “targeted employment areas”?  No way, says Jose.

The truth is that while we have no idea what will unfold in the coming months, there are many “stakeholders” with conflicting interests.  Among these are massive EB-5 centers whose very structure relies on the perpetuation of the “tenant occupancy” myth and who will spare no expense to fight the logic of USCIS economists.  And there are lawyers telling their developer clients to hurry up and file yet another Regional Center which, like the vast majority approved in the past five years, will never raise a single EB-5 dollar for a variety of reasons.  Too much money is at stake.

Whatever EB-5 V2.0 ultimately turns out to be, this much we know today.  The program has worked very well and you have until December 11th to buy your $500,000 price of admission, so first do your homework and then - if you KNOW you want EB-5 U.S. residency...choose WISELY.