Yes, due to certain legislation that was legalized in the United States in 2020, EB-5 investors from Hong Kong are now subject to the same retrogression facing Mainland-born Chinese applicants.
In July 2020, former U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, as well as the Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization. The passing of these bills into law has had significant consequences for prospective EB-5 investors from Hong Kong seeking to relocate to the United States. In terms of the EB-5 visa program, Hong Kong investors must now face the same lengthy delays in processing as Mainland-China investors.
Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization: Consequences
Under the Executive Order of 2020, Hong Kong’s special status was repealed in accordance with the US-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which stipulated that Hong Kong’s special status could be stripped provided the U.S. President determined that Hong Kong was no longer sufficiently autonomous to justify its separate treatment. In essence, the Executive Order has made it so that Hong Kong is treated the same as China, particularly with regards to immigration. As such, EB-5 investors from Hong Kong will have their country of chargeability deemed as the People’s Republic of China and see their previous visa availability retrogress from “current” to the priority date of Chinese EB-5 investors. Because China is currently in retrogression and facing significant backlog and lengthy processing times as a result of oversubscription, prospective EB-5 investors from Hong Kong will now also have to wait several years to finish applying for an EB-5 visa.
The Executive Order has also removed Hong Kong from the list of eligible participating countries in the Diversity Visa Lottery and Visa Waiver Program.
While Chinese nationals from Taiwan and Macau are not subject to the EB-5 visa retrogression facing those from Mainland-China, EB-5 investors from Hong Kong must now confront the same host of issues as their Mainland counterparts. EB-5 investors from Hong Kong are best advised consulting an immigration attorney and starting the EB-5 process as early as possible.