As of December 2022, Congress is not currently considering any additional immigrant visa options. However, there have been recent updates to the EB5 program regarding reserved visas.
The EB-5 program operates on a quota system, with a limit to the number of EB-5 visas that can be issued each year. Typically, this annual cap falls around 10,000 visas, though it was 20,000 for FY2022. This total is further divided, with 7% of the total allotted to each country. For most countries, this poses no issues. However, for countries with particularly high EB5 visa demand — such as China, India, and Vietnam — investor demand often exceeds the available supply. This leads to processing backlogs and lengthy delays. To help combat this, Congress has reserved 32% of the annual visa total for investors who invest in targeted employment areas (TEAs). This provision was included in the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act that went into effect in March 2022.
Of the reserved EB5 visas, 20% is for rural TEAs, 10% is for high unemployment TEAs, and the remaining 2% is reserved for certain public infrastructure projects that qualify as TEAs.
EB5 investors who choose projects in TEAs and receive I-526 petition approval are assigned reserved visas. This is particularly beneficial to investors from high demand countries. Whereas an investor may wait years to receive an EB5 visa due to their country’s high demand, investors who are assigned a reserved visa will receive one upon I-526 approval — regardless of their nation’s visa availability.
Prospective EB5 investors should keep in mind that the reserved visas are allotted on a “first come, first serve” basis. The earlier an applicant invests in a TEA project and receives I-526 approval, the more likely it is that they will obtain a reserved visa. Investors who receive I-526 approval after the reserved visa pool has been taken up will likely have to wait until the following fiscal year to receive their visas.