The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that it will require green card applicants to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This measure will come into effect on October 1, 2021.
It is important to note that EB-5 investors who submit Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, do not need to be vaccinated. The vaccination requirement applies only to individuals who are applying for green cards, such as EB-5 investors with approved I-526 petitions. EB-5 investors who already live in the United States and hold an immigrant visa will have to get vaccinated to become eligible for conditional permanent resident status.
Certain green card applicants may be exempt from the vaccine requirement. For example, applicants who are too young to receive a vaccine or have an underlying health condition preventing them from doing so will not have to get vaccinated.
The EB-5 Program and COVID-19
Since the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 has caused difficulties for countless EB-5 investors, project developers, and other stakeholders. For instance, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which oversees the EB5 investment program, was severely affected by the pandemic. The widespread travel bans and immigration restrictions resulted in an unfortunate decrease in immigration petitions during 2020. USCIS largely relies on application fees to fund its operations, so the agency went into a financial crisis.
The situation was so dire that USCIS announced that it would furlough 70% of its employees in August 2020. Thirteen thousand jobs would have been impacted by this measure. Moreover, the slow processing times for I-526 petitions would have become even worse for EB-5 investors. Fortunately, on August 25, 2020, USCIS announced that it was able to avert the furlough by reducing spending and increasing its revenue. A subsequent funding bill authorized higher processing fees to help USCIS return to solvency.
Besides harming USCIS’s finances, the pandemic also affected many existing EB-5 investment projects. Due to the adverse economic impact, many project developers were forced to cease operations. Of course, this was not only harmful to project developers—foreign nationals who had invested in these projects may have been unable to create the 10 jobs required by USCIS. The tourism, hospitality, and real estate development industries, all of which are essential to the EB-5 investment industry, were particularly hard hit.
Thanks to the vaccine rollout, the United States is slowly recovering from COVID-19. Potential EB-5 investors looking for open projects should consult with a reliable immigration attorney who can help them comply with the EB-5 investment program’s regulations.