On March 10, 2022, the US Senate decided to once again revive the EB-5 Regional Center Program. The new rules now form part of the 2022 financial year Consolidated Appropriation Bill. The House passed the same bill the previous day. The latest developments come after the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program lapsed in June last year.
The new Integrity Act includes a number of important changes to the EB-5 Visa program:
- The EB-5 regional center program is reauthorized until the end of September 2027.
- The act now contains a section that authorizes the grandfathering of all petitions on record in case the program ever lapses again from here on.
- The revised minimum amount that has to be invested has been revised to $1,050,000, or $800,000 where the EB-5 program is situated in an infrastructure project or a TEA (Targeted Employment Area). An infrastructure project refers to a public works project in which the EB-5 capital is received by a government organization that acts as the job-creating entity. A TEA covers a rural area of a region with high unemployment and has to qualify under the same rules that applied to the EB-5 regulations that were announced in 2019.
- The act now makes provision for specific visas for infrastructure, high-unemployment, and rural projects.
- The adjudication and processing of rural petitions will be prioritized.
- Geographic limitations on the redeployment of investor capital are removed.
- Investors are now allowed to count both direct and indirect positions for the purpose of job creation.
- The new act also includes a variety of strict requirements for regional centers. These are all related to record-keeping, securities compliance, administration, and ownership.
- Regional centers will have to be audited by USCIS no less than once in 5 years.
- A new integrity fund has now also been established to which regional centers have to contribute between $10,000 and $20,000 per year, depending on their size. This will enable the USCIS to oversee and investigate all the parties in the EB-5 industry to make sure they are compliant.
The latest legislation will revive the Regional Center program. Apart from that, it will also introduce fresh integrity controls that can be applied to every aspect of the revised EB-5 program.
The above is excellent news, specifically for investors whose funds had been committed to a particular project, but who had until now not been able to qualify for green cards because of the closure of the Regional Center program.
Other U.S. Visa and Immigration News
The United States places restrictions on visas for Chinese officials
The American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announced on Monday, March 21, 2022, that the country was placing restrictions on the visa of certain Chinese officials. The reason Blinken gave is that these officials might have been involved in certain ‘repressive acts’ against religious and ethnic minority groups in their country. Blinken was speaking after visiting the ‘Burma’s path to Genocide’ exhibition at the American Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
Ukrainians attempting to get to the United States are finding it difficult to obtain visas
Well over 3 million Ukrainians have so far been forced to flee their country because of the military conflict with Russia. The majority of them have found refuge in Europe, but others are attempting to join their family members in the United States – and they are finding it significantly more difficult than they expected it would be.
Immigration lawyers throughout the U.S. are saying that Ukrainian Americans who want to bring their family members to the country are having to deal with a surprising number of legal obstacles such as expired passports, stringent visa requirements, Covid-19 restrictions, and missing documents.
According to Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, he discussed the problem with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris when she recently visited his country.
Although U.S. President Biden said his country would send food, money, and other aid to the Ukrainians, the American administration’s position seems to be that the majority of the refugees would prefer to remain in Europe.