In what is wonderful news for the tens of thousands of EB-5 petitioners and their families who have been in limbo since July 2021, Congress has approved the omnibus spending bill that includes EB-5 Regional Center Program reauthorization.
The Senate approved the $1.5 trillion package by a vote of 68 to 31. President Biden must still sign the bill, but this is a formality, and he is expected to do so quickly.
Here are some of the major changes to the new legislation includes:
The minimum amount for a Target Employment Area (either rural or high-unemployment area) investment is now $800,000; a standard or non-TEA investment is $1,050,000.
Grandfathering past investors:
The bill maintains eligibility of all pre-enactment investors, as of when they filed their I-526, for both I-526 and I-829 processing.
EB-5 regional center reauthorization
The program is authorized for more than five years until September 30, 2027.
Priority processing for rural investments
Investments made into a rural area will have faster processing.
High-unemployment areas use the more strict criteria from the 2019 regulations.
Regional center requirements
The legislation requires regional centers to offer more investor protections including annual reports, reporting of material changes, general certification of securities and other compliance, and disclosure of all marketing and promotion fees paid.
If reinvestment prior to the completion of investors' conditional permanent residnecy is required, it will now allowed anywhere in the U.S. (previously, redeployment had to be in the regional center area).
In the event that the regional center, new commercial enterprise, or job-creating entity is terminated or debarred, investors will still be able to continue with replacement entities or even a new investment.
When do the changes happen?
Regional center reauthorization and new requirements will begin 60 days after enactment of the legislation. New I-526 regional center filings must wait at least 60 days as well.
New investment amounts are effective immediately upon enactment.
I-526 processing should occur upon the enactment of the legislation. Section 6 of the legislation mandates that within a year of enactment, USCIS will conduct a fee study and then charge fees sufficient to ensure efficient processing.
For a detailed overview, see “Analysis of New EB-5 Reform Bill Destined for Omnibus by March 11, 2022" by veteranEB-5 immigration lawyer Robert Divine.