The Latest Updates to the EB-5 Program in 2022

Read on for the latest EB5 news and the effects of new legislation on the program.

The EB 5 investment industry has experienced several important changes in 2022. This summary will help prospective investors and project developers to adapt to the new regulations and succeed through the EB 5 program. This information is also relevant for existing regional centers.

What Are the Latest Changes to the EB-5 Program?

On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed the EB 5 Reform and Integrity Act into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. This legislation introduces significant revisions to the EB 5 Immigrant Investor Program. Among the changes includes the long-awaited reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program, which will be detailed further below. Investors will benefit from much of this new bill, which will make the EB 5 immigration process safer and more efficient than ever.

What Are the Latest Changes to EB-5 Processing?

The reauthorization of the regional center program can potentially create backlogs in high-demand countries, such as China. Because of this, faster processing times are more important than ever. Investments in rural targeted employment areas (TEAs) will be granted priority processing by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), so these will likely be favored by investors from high-demand countries. Concurrent filing of Forms I-526/I-526E (the first immigrant petition) and I-485 is now allowed as well. This will be a great advantage for investors already living in the United States. Not only can it reduce wait times; but it also offers quicker access to work authorization and travel permissions.

Each fiscal year, roughly 10,000 visas can be received by investors through the EB 5 program. During negotiations for the Reform Act, legislators wanted to ensure that TEAs benefitted more from EB 5 funding. Now, 32% of the visa quota is reserved for TEAs, and most of this percentage will go to rural TEAs. Investors who receive these “set-aside” visas will be able to avoid processing delays caused by limited EB-5 visa availability for their country.

EB 5 News on the Visa Bulletins

Countries with a higher EB 5 visa demand than supply accumulate application backlogs. These countries are subject to two kinds of cutoff dates: final action dates and dates for filing. These dates dictate when an investor can obtain their visas. Foreign investors from backlogged countries are encouraged to pay close attention to these dates and the latest news in the monthly Visa Bulletin, which shows the cutoff dates for each backlogged country.

On the monthly bulletin, a current final action date is marked as “C.” All investors from a country with a current final action date are eligible for an EB 5 visa. On the other hand, backlogged countries will have a final action date, and applicants are not eligible for a visa until the date they filed their I-526/I-526E petition falls after their country’s final action date.

As of the November 2022 Visa Bulletin, all countries have a current final action date except China and India. Chinese and Indian applicants must wait before obtaining their EB-5 green cards if the date on which they filed their I-526/I-526E petitions falls after the applicable final action date.

For countries with exceptionally high visa demand, USCIS asks investors to wait until a certain date—known as the date for filing—to apply for their visas. This measure regulates the number of applications to avoid overwhelming the system.

In EB5 latest news, only Chinese and Indian investors are subject to a date for filing.

What are the EB 5 Program Updates as a Result of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022?

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 ushers in a new era for the EB-5 industry that emphasizes transparency, efficiency, and protections for investors and developers. It is one of the most extensive reforms in the program’s history.

Perhaps the most significant change in EB5 latest news is the reauthorization of the EB 5 Regional Center Program. The program wasn’t renewed in 2021, which led to its longest lapse in EB-5 history. Through the Reform and Integrity Act, the program has been reauthorized long-term through September 2027. Effectively, the previous regional center program has been updated, and previously authorized regional centers will have to adapt to new rules.

After the regional center program expired in June 2021, USCIS announced that petition processing would be placed on hold until regional centers operations resumed. This left many investors stuck in “processing limbo” and kept prospective applicants from applying. Thankfully, the EB 5 Reform and Integrity Act ensures that USCIS will once again process pending visa petitions from regional centers investors.

The regional center program is a key component of the EB-5 industry, and the vast majority of EB 5 investment funding has been injected into regional center program projects.

In addition, previously designated regional centers will not lose their regional centers designation as a result of the Reform and Integrity Act. Rather, they will have to submit Form I-956, the new application for regional center designation, by December 29, 2022, in order to retain their regional center designation. Previously approved regional centers will have to demonstrate compliance with the many new reporting and accounting requirements introduced in the Reform and Integrity Act.

EB5 Updates on Minimum Investment Thresholds

The EB 5 Reform and Integrity Act raises the minimum investment amount for all projects. With a previous amount of $1,000,000, standard investments will now require a minimum of $1,050,000. Investments in TEAs are generally favored due to the lower minimum requirement, but they too have been increased. Previously $500,000, rural and high-unemployment TEA projects now have a minimum investment amount of $800,000. Certain public infrastructure projects also qualify for the minimum investment amount of $800,000.

The minimum amount for standard investments will be adjusted for inflation starting on January 1, 2027, and every five years thereafter.

While this news doesn’t necessarily benefit investors, minimum investment amounts have been much higher in the past. The EB 5 program remains one of the best immigration routes available for foreign nationals.

EB 5 News on Reserved Visas

According to the EB 5 latest news, 32% of the roughly 10,000 annual EB 5 visa quota is set aside for three categories of capital investment. 20% of visas will be reserved for investors in rural TEAs and 10% for foreign investors in high-unemployment TEAs. The remaining 2% is reserved for public infrastructure projects. However, this measure seems to only apply to newly filed petitions.

If any of the set-aside visas go unused by the end of the fiscal year, they will carry over to the next year in the same categories. If unused by the end of that succeeding fiscal year, they will no longer be reserved. Instead, they will be added to the total EB 5 visa quota for the following fiscal year.

EB5AN is pleased to offer institutional-quality regional centers projects that qualify investors for set-aside visas. Investing in a TEA regional centers project will be especially beneficial for Chinese and Indian investors, who are currently experiencing a backlog of EB 5 visa applications. These TEA regional centers projects can allow Chinese and Indian investors to avoid years-long processing delays.

Other New Provisions

As mentioned before, this new EB 5 bill makes numerous changes. Below is a summary of the most important new provisions.

Grandfathering of petitions is now authorized under the new bill. All petitions filed before or on September 30, 2026, will be processed without depending on the regional center program’s reauthorization. Applications cannot be denied based on the expiration of the program, so this includes those filed before June 30, 2021. This will protect investors from getting stuck in “processing limbo” in case the program lapses again in the future.

Concurrent filing of Forms I-526/I-526E and I-485 is now allowed. Investors already in the U.S. can file an application for adjustment of status alongside Form I-526 or while waiting for the I-526 petition to be approved. This is a great advantage because it provides quicker access to employment authorization and travel permissions.

The Department of Homeland Security (DOS) is now solely responsible for designating high-unemployment TEAs. This authority used to belong to state and local governments.

To help ensure transparency throughout the EB-5 process, each regional center will now undergo regular audits. Additionally, the EB-5 Integrity Fund has been created to support regulation enforcement. Each regional center is required to pay an annual fee of $20,000 to this fund. If a regional center has 20 investors or less, it only needs to pay $10,000. Not only will each regional center contribute: EB 5 investors must also pay a $1,000 fee that goes towards the EB 5 fund.

The EB-5 Program in 2022 and Beyond

In credit to the latest EB5 updates, 2022 and beyond will be an extraordinary time for existing and future investors in the EB 5 program. Not only has the Regional Center Program been reauthorized; but its future for existing regional centers has also been stabilized. Foreign investors can expect quicker processing of their petitions thanks to provisions like concurrent filing and priority processing for rural projects. Visa reservation ensures TEAs and infrastructure projects will continue to benefit from the EB-5 program as well. With enhanced transparency, efficiency, and protections, foreign nationals can enjoy one of the best times to apply for an EB 5 visa. For more information on the latest EB5 news and how previously approved regional centers can adapt to the new rules, interested foreign nationals can contact EB5AN.