The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has felt the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with the closure of U.S. embassies and consulates around the world and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) public offices shuttering domestically. The economic impact of the pandemic on the United States is unprecedented, and the government is taking steps to ensure that U.S. workers are prioritized when the economy reopens. To this end, President Trump signed a proclamation to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States on April 22, 2020.
This proclamation puts a halt on some forms of immigration for a period of 60 days, with the expressed goal of minimizing the supply of foreign labor to ensure that U.S. workers will be considered first for jobs when the economy reopens. There are, however, some forms of immigration that are exempt from this suspension. Included in the exceptions are foreign nationals “applying for a visa pursuant to the EB-5 Immigration Investor Program.” This includes not only the investors themselves but also their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.
While the exemption is good news, prudent EB-5 investors should keep an eye on other travel restrictions in place globally that may affect their ability to enter the United States. EB-5 investors should consult with their immigration attorneys regarding their individual situations to determine the best options for them.
The EB-5 program offers several benefits to the U.S. economy that will be more important than ever in the aftermath of the pandemic. First, the EB-5 program requires foreign investors to invest a minimum of $900,000 if the EB-5 project is in a targeted employment area (TEA) and $1.8 million if it is not in a TEA. This would result in a considerable influx of capital into the U.S. economy. Second, given the minimum investment requirements, applicants to the EB-5 program are limited to individuals and families with substantial wealth. This means that they will not be a burden on U.S. social welfare programs. Third, each EB-5 project must create 10 new full-time jobs in order to meet the EB-5 job creation requirements. With unemployment rates nearing historic highs, the jobs created by the EB-5 program will be in high demand.
The current crisis will not be the first time that the EB-5 program has assisted in stimulating the U.S. economy. During the global recession in 2008, EB-5 investors funded numerous projects and created jobs for countless U.S. workers. Therefore, it would not be surprising if the U.S. government’s economic recovery plans include the EB-5 program.