By José E. Latour
On March 15, the EB-5 Regional Center Program was finally reauthorized, restoring America’s job-creating investor visa program for an unprecedented 5 year extension. But this was no mere “extension”…it is a new law which incorporates long-delayed reforms intended to create a higher level of integrity in the program, making it safer and more transparent for investors.
While I had planned on writing this update sooner, the new Regional Center program truly changes many aspects of the program – for the BETTER, in most ways. I didn’t see the point in repeating what many other excellent immigration attorneys had already posted online so, instead, here is my belated but hopefully-useful list of what I perceive to be the TOP FOUR MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS of the new law to accredited investors considering EB-5 U.S. residency for their families via the EB-5 investor visa:
#1 Reason: Concurrent filing of Adjustment of Status. Almost 100% of the EB-5 families American Venture Solutions Regional Center (AVSRC) has guided to EB-5 U.S. residency since 2011 has done so for a common reason: “the kids’ futures”. For the first time, EB-5 applicants who are in lawful status in the U.S. – for example, F-1 students, H-1B professional workers, etc. – can adjust to permanent U.S. residency without departing the U.S.
Why does this matter? Because it means that an EB-5 applicant can submit his or her I-485 Adjustment of Status petition concurrently with their I-526 Immigrant Investor petition to the USCIS, obtain advance parole travel authorization and employment authorization while they await their immigrant visa interview at a local USCIS office. The ability to remain in the U.S. during the process removes the uncertainties of I-526 adjudication timing.
#2 Reason: New pricing levels. The $500,000 TEA/ $1M non-TEA EB-5 investment threshold was created in 1990 when the visa category was introduced…and never changed. While everyone would have preferred to keep those numbers, the new law adjusted the thresholds in targeted employment areas (TEAs) from $500,000 to $800,000, and in non-TEAs from $1,000,000 to $1,050,000.
Why does this matter? The new law no longer permits big urban developers to “fake” TEA status for their projects. That means that instead of hundreds of projects falsely claiming to be “targeted employment areas”, a much smaller number of Regional Center projects will qualify as bona fide TEA projects under the new law. But at the same time, by reducing the non-TEA “surcharge” from an extra $500,000 to $250,000 for non-TEA projects – non-TEA projects will be able to still compete with TEA deals and investors will benefit from more project competition.
#3 Reason: “Grandfathering” and five years of peace of mind. Last summer, when the Regional Center program expired, USCIS stopped adjudicating the massive number of investor petitions in their possession, resulting in unfair delays for everyone.
Why does this matter? With a five year extension on the law, that won’t happen again, and a “grandfathering” provision in the new law ensures that if Congress fails to reauthorize the RC Program after it expires on Sept. 30, 2027, investor petitions filed on or before Sept. 30, 2026, will continue to be processed regardless of the program status.
#4 Reasons: Integrity Measures to Protect Investors. Those who have been regular readers of my commentary know how much noise I’ve made over the past decade regarding dishonest migration agents, false project promises, and under-the-table kickbacks and “finders fees”. The new law puts an end to all this by requiring background checks on principals of Regional Centers and EB-5 projects, registration of all compensated foreign immigration agents with the USCIS, and transparent reporting signed by the investor and submitted to the USCIS disclosing where every penny of the investor’s funds have gone.
Why does this matter? Considering the high percentage of EB-5 investors have been previously defrauded/scammed before investing with a proven and trusted EB-5 Regional Center, these measures will put the bad guys out of work. As the only U.S. EB-5 Regional Center with a full-time, staffed office in Ho Chi Minh City for over 6 years, it means AVSRC investors deal directly with the Regional Center responsible for administering the EB-5 project which YOU have entrusted for your family’s US immigration.
These “Big Four” are what I believe to be the most important for new EB-5 Regional Center investors, but there are many other requirements in the new law designed to protect investors and ensure continuity and transparency in the EB-5 Regional Center Program. For the very first time in the 32 year history of the EB-5 Program, those who abuse investors will pay the price. And that is, without a doubt, the single greatest accomplishment in this reauthorization.
AVSRC has been successfully delivering U.S. residency and timely divestment for loan-based-project investors for the past 11 years. Contact us for more information on how AVSRC can help your family secure U.S. residency through our new River Oak EB-5 Project.
Attorney José E. Latour