Reauthorization for the EB-5 Regional Center Program has been postponed until at least February 18, 2022.
Even though many expected Congress to pass an appropriations bill that would have funded the government’s activities for the 2022 fiscal year, a bipartisan consensus on the bill was not reached before the December 3, 2021 deadline. Therefore, the House and the Senate were forced to pass a continuing resolution. This temporary measure to avoid a government shutdown will maintain current funding levels until February 19, 2022. By this date, the U.S. government will either have to approve another temporary measure or come to a consensus on the appropriations bill. If the latter scenario takes place, the appropriations bill may reauthorize regional center EB-5 investment and make other changes to the EB-5 program.
Any EB-5 reform is likely to be controversial in Congress—historically, it has been difficult to achieve bipartisan consensus on immigration legislation. Therefore, a bill that would reauthorize the regional center program is unlikely to succeed on its own and must be attached to a larger legislative vehicle such as the aforementioned appropriations bill.
The Uncertain Future of the Regional Center Program
As of December 2021, it has been over five months since the regional center program expired, making this the longest-ever suspension of regional center investment. Even though the earliest possible date for reauthorization is February 18, 2022, it is unclear when regional center investment will be revalidated. In the meantime, regional center investors who filed Form I-526 are in an uncomfortable situation: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is no longer processing pending I-526 petitions from regional center investors. These investors may have to wait inordinately long amounts of time for their petitions to be processed.
Some analysts believe that the regional center program may not be reauthorized until March 2022, and upcoming EB-5 reform may not result in long-awaited changes such as an increased number of EB-5 visas.
Despite the inconveniences that regional center investors are now subject to, the direct EB-5 investment industry has experienced a surge in popularity. Because USCIS is not processing I-526 petitions from regional center applicants, direct investors may enjoy faster processing times. Additionally, the direct EB5 investment model is an inextricable component of the EB-5 program that does not depend on periodic reauthorization.