To keep the government running, the Congress has just approved another stopgap continuing resolution, which means that the EB-5 program will remain for most of 2016. However, it has been widely anticipated that legislation in some form will be enacted shortly to renew and reform the Program.
The current EB-5 program, which offers a family-sized set of green cards to foreigners who directly invest $1 million, or invest $500,000 into targeted employment areas (“TEAs”), has been very popular among Chinese investors in recent years.
Under the proposed legislation, once passed, the minimum investment amount in rural and high-unemployment areas would be increased from $500,000 to $800,000. For the investment projects that already had I-924 and I-526 approvals, they will enjoy a 60-day grace period. Thus, if investors submit the application within 30 days of the effective date of the new legislation, the investment amount is $600,000; between the 31st day and the 60th day, the amount is $700,000; and starting the 61st day, the amount will be adjusted to $800,000. Investment to non-TEAs will be adjusted to $1.2 million.
Also, the new legislation will redefine what constitutes the TEA. TEA designation will be tightened up. Further, the new legislation will allot a certain number of visas to different investment categories, such as 2,000 visas for projects in rural areas and 2,000 visas for people who invest $1 million, while the total number of visas remains the same.
Finally the new legislation will require more disclosure regarding how the capital is being utilized, and investors’ source of funds. The current EB-5 program has been under fire when 35 Chinese investors who lost nearly $20 million in South Dakota’s EB-5 program sued the state for fraud.
Although investors can be relieved for now, changes are likely to come. Our firm will monitor closely of any development. Let’s sit tight and wait for what is coming. Please contact us for any EB5 questions.