Foreign nationals seeking to immigrate to the United States can do so by way of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme, which requires an investment of $500,000 in a government pre-approved project in the U.S. economy in exchange for a fast-tracked opportunity to receive the U.S. Green Card for themselves, their spouse, and unmarried children under the age of 21.

The EB-5 Regional Center Programme, which was created by Congress in 1992, allows applicants to take advantage of the immigration benefits of the programme while at the same time, being passive investors without the headache of dealing with various reporting obligations, such as the mandatory job creation reports.

Since its inception, the EB-5 programme has had bipartisan support given its role in stimulating the U.S. economy. While Democrats and Republicans have varying ideals in many respects, there is no question that both sides are in favour of boosting the U.S. economy by way of job creation, which is at the core of the EB-5 programme. Despite its popularity, due to the failure of Democrats and Republicans in reaching consensus on the federal spending budget by the end of the U.S. government fiscal year in September 2021, the EB-5 programme, which had reached its sunset date and was suspended on June 30, 2021, did not obtain funding and therefore remains suspended. Having not passed the 13 appropriations bills, the Congress and President Biden passed a continuing resolution which averted a U.S. government shutdown until December 3, 2021.

This month (December), Democrats and Republicans will once again have the opportunity to pass the appropriations bills that will fund the various U.S. federal agencies and programmes. EB-5 industry experts and leaders are confident that the EB-5 Regional Center Programme will be passed by December 3, 2021, at which time the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume operations and begin accepting new EB-5 applications. With no shadow of a doubt that the EB-5 Regional Center Programme will sooner or later be reauthorised, the next important question is with respect to the amount of capital investment required to participate in the programme.

On June 22, 2021, a U.S. federal court invalidated the EB-5 Modernisation Rule passed in 2019, which increased the required capital investment from $500,000 to $900,000. Inflation was cited as the rationale for the price increase in November 2019. The price increase coupled with the adverse economic effects of the pandemic led to a slowing down of EB-5 applications.

However, the court invalidation of the 2019 rules and the subsequent price decrease led to a rush of applications in June 2021. While the programme remains at $500,000 for now, the current Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, has expressed his agreement with the 2019 rules and may soon act to increase the required capital investment to keep up with inflation.

While not welcomed by the EB-5 community, a price increase for the EB-5 programme is not entirely without rationale. As compared to the residency by investment and immigration programmes of other first world countries, the price of the EB-5 programme remains highly competitive. For instance, the United Kingdom Tier 1 Investor visa requires an investment of GBP 2 million, which is approximately five times higher than the United States EB-5 programme. As such, it is imperative that foreign investors seeking to immigrate to the U.S. through the EB-5 programme act quickly as soon as the programme is reauthorised in December 2021 to benefit from the lower investment amount.

While the programme remains suspended, there is still much to be done to prepare for the December rush. With more than 12 years of expertise in the EB-5 industry, Shai Zamanian, the Legal Director of The American Legal Center, a top immigration consultancy based in Dubai, is urging applicants to collect their documents to catch the next filing window.

“Our goal is to help as many families as possible to begin their migration journey to the United States before a price increase occurs,” he says. “If you and your family would like to take advantage of the $500,000 rules you should act swiftly in gathering your documents to be ahead of the curve.”