Late last night, Congress released the text of the Omnibus spending bill, which includes the “EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act” at page 2609. With government funding expiring March 11 we anticipate passage of this bill in the next few days.
After nearly 8.5 months of a lapsed EB-5 Regional Center program, Congress has authorized a longer term reform of the EB-5 program and reauthorized the Regional Center program. See previous link to blogs about the lapse.
This reauthorization does the following:
- EB-5 “Regional Center” Program Re-Authorized
- Through Sept. 30, 2027
- Targeted Employment Area (TEA) Designations
- TEA projects qualify for both the lower investment levels and the visa set-asides (see below)
- Rural Projects
- In areas outside a Metropolitan Statistical area, or within the outer boundary of any city or town with a population of 20,000 or more. (No change from prior law)
- Priority processing for rural projects
- Distressed Urban Area Projects (“High Unemployment Areas”)
- Codifies the 2019 USCIS regulation (“donut” approach)
- Project must be located in a census tract – or any “contiguous” census tracts that “touch” the project’s tract – where average unemployment rate for the tracts is 150% of the national average unemployment rate
- DHS Secretary has the discretion to include a “directly adjacent” tract (to either the “anchor” tract or a “contiguous” tract) to satisfy the requisite 150% high unemployment criteria
- Infrastructure Projects
- A “capital investment project” administered by a “governmental entity” that serves as the “job-creating entity” which receives capital from EB-5 investors, and contracts with a regional center.
- Investment Amounts
- $800,000 in TEAs
- $1,050,000 in non-TEAs
- On Jan. 1, 2027, and every five years thereafter, investment amounts adjust for inflation.
- Visa set asides
- 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
- Redeployment of Capital
- DHS to enact regulations that allow the new commercial enterprise to redeploy capital anywhere in the United States to keep the investment “at risk”
- Job Creation
- 10 jobs must be created per investment (same as prior law)
- One job must be a “direct” job; the other nine can be modeled, estimated “indirect” jobs
- Construction jobs that last less than two years can satisfy 75% of estimated “indirect” jobs
- Concurrent Filing of I-526 and I-485
- Investors can concurrently file their I-526 petitions (showing EB-5 compliance and investment) and their I-485 petitions (application for a “conditional” green card, which adjusts status from a “non-immigrant” to a conditional permanent resident if a visa is available.
- “Grandfathering” Existing Investors
- If Congress fails to reauthorize regional centers after the Act’s expiration Sept. 30, 2027, DHS shall continue to process petitions filed on or before Sept. 30, 2026.
- Integrity Measures
- New measures to prevent fraud and abuse and to provide tools to DHS to prevent national security breaches.
It is also the first time since 2015 that the EB-5 Regional Center program has been authorized for more than just the current appropriations process. The EB-5 industry came together and pushed for comprehensive reforms. Several of those key reforms did not make it into this legislation including much-needed immigrant visa backlog relief.