In November 2019, the minimum EB5 investment amounts increased from $1 million to $1.8 million and $500,000 to $900,000, with the latter amounts applying to investments in projects located in targeted unemployment areas (TEAs). This was the first time EB-5 visa minimum investment amounts had been increased since the inception of the program, and the change accounted for inflation.
According to the 2019 EB-5 program update, minimum investment amounts will increase every five years to account for inflation. Thus, increases can be expected in 2024, 2029, and so on. While this inflation-based increase schedule removes much of the uncertainty surrounding when increases are set to occur, by how much EB-5 investment amounts will increase will remain unclear until each increase approaches.
The main purpose of the EB-5 program is to drive economic growth through job creation from foreign direct investment. This is especially important in rural areas and areas with high unemployment rates—or TEAs. Consequently, the minimum investment amount for projects in TEAs remained significantly lower after the 2019 investment amount increase to encourage EB-5 investors to channel their funds into the areas that will benefit most from EB-5 investment.
The Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program is another aspect of the EB-5 program that is frequently subject to change, review, and uncertainty. Congress typically reauthorizes the regional center program periodically, sometimes annually and sometimes several times a year, with the current sunset date published on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
While the regional center program does not directly affect EB-5 minimum investment amounts, it does influence the availability of investments with lower immigration and financial risk—for carefully vetted EB-5 projects—in TEAs. The vast majority of EB-5 investors invest through regional centers, as this type of investment holds benefits such as limited managerial overview from investors and expanded job calculation that often leads to larger job cushions.