Plans to increase investment thresholds for the U.S. EB-5 visa program have again been deferred, with the latest temporary extension expiring on December 7, 2018.
Despite widespread agreement that the program requires updating, consensus on exactly how that update will look has again proven elusive.
Lawmakers agree that the minimum investment to qualify for the EB-5, which has remained unchanged since the program’s inception in 1990, should rise.
The current thresholds are $500,000 for a project in a Targeted Employment Area and $1 million for all other areas.
Several different increases have been put forward, with thresholds of $1.3 million and $2 million appearing most likely.
The increase is unlikely to occur in 2018. The general view is that any legislative change will take place when the new session is in place, post the mid-term elections.
About the U.S. EB-5 Program
The U.S. EB-5 program is unique in many respects.
It is a cheap program, especially considering the benefits and advantages bestowed by the U.S. green card.
The U.K. charges £2 million, Australia $5 million while Cyprus and Malta, not even close to the US in economic development or political clout, require investments in excess of €1 million.
Despite massive demand among Chinese applicants, especially after Canada’s federal program was terminated, the minimum investment program has remained unchanged.
While a low investment requirement is attractive, the US program is probably the only popular investment immigration program mandating a minimum job creation requirement.
Unless the investment creates or maintains at least ten permanent jobs in the US, the investor does not qualify for the green card.
Also, the program has an annual cap of 10,000 visas with a country-specific limit of 700.
Reforms Expected in the Future
A hike in the minimum investment requirement is likely. In fact, investors were prepared for the possibility of higher investment limits pending the latest extension.
Lawmakers are expected to debate steps to prevent misuse of targeted employment areas. This has been a particularly sensitive issue with critics highlighting that investors taking advantage of the reduced investment requirement end up putting money in upscale premium condos in urban centres.
The program is likely to be subject to greater and stricter regulatory oversight. There is no clarity on whether the existing setup will be retained with tougher rules or whether lawmakers will form a new agency to oversee the EB-5 visa program.
However, all this is deferred for the future. At present, the EB-5 visa continues unchanged, giving investors the chance to qualify for the US green card.General Information: Contact us to receive more information about this article.
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