The U.S. EB-5 investment immigration program has received another temporary extension in its current form as part of a short-term funding bill passed by Congress late on Thursday, December 7.
The popular immigration program, along with the rest of the government budget, was due to expire on December 8 under the previous temporary extension. The new short-term extension now expires on December 22.
It means Republicans and Democrats have more time to reach an agreement that would see a long-term budget approved. President Donald Trump convened a meeting between lawmakers from both sides at the White House earlier on Thursday.
Despite several calls for the EB-5 program to undergo major changes, and others for it to be scrapped altogether, the status quo of continuing temporary extensions remains.
Current US EB-5 Investment Requirements
- An EB-5 investor must invest in a new commercial enterprise.
- The investor must invest at least $1 million when investing in a general area of business or at least $500,000 when investing in a targeted employment area (“Regional Centres”).
- Within two years of admission as a Conditional Permanent Resident, the investor must create or preserve at least 10 full-time, direct or indirect jobs belonging to qualified US workers.
- See Tax Implications of Gaining Permanent Residence Through US EB-5 Visa.
The current thresholds remain the same, with $500,000 required when investing in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), and $1 million in a general area of business. The investment must create or preserve 10 jobs for qualified US workers.
There has been uncertainty over how Trump would view the program, given his tough stance on immigration and his background in property development. A spokesman for the White House said earlier in the year that the administration felt it was in need of ‘substantial repair’.
Talk of a major overhaul prior to the previous extension of EB-5 proved to be posturing as none of the multiple proposals put forward gained any traction.
U.S. EB-5: Inclusion of Family Members
Upon approval of the visa, the applicant along with his/her spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be admitted to the US during the two-year conditional term of the visa.
Several bills have been tabled with plans for EB-5, including raising investment levels and changing how a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) is defined.
It has faced criticism from several sources, who want it abolished. There are several ongoing court cases linked to potential EB-5 fraud. There are calls for a body to be formed to oversee these transactions, to ensure transparency.
Alternative U.S. Business Immigration Programs
- U.S. L 1 Visa: Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
- U.S. EB 1-C Visa: Multinational Executives and Managers
Chinese candidates dominate applications for the EB-5 programs, which has an annual cap of 10,000 visa and 700 for individual countries. As a result, there is a years-long waiting list for Chinese applications.
Indians are also key candidates of the program, with many believing it is a better alternative to the H1-B visa, currently the subject of a Trump crackdown.
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