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Department of Homeland Security Issues Amendments to EB-5 Investor Visas

EB-5 investor visas allow foreign nationals and their families to gain green cards if they make a substantial investment in the U.S. economy.

However, a series of scandals in recent years led to calls for a tightening up of the program.

Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a criminal complaint against Regional Centers in Vermont. Two ski resorts were accused of being part of Ponzi schemes. The resorts went into receivership, leaving some innocent overseas investors facing possible deportation.

EB-5 investor visas face reform

Amendments to the EB-5 investment visas program were recently proposed by the Department of Homeland Security, in what was termed a Modernization Rule. A consultation period ended in April.

A foreign investor will need to bring more money into the United States than previously to benefit from EB-5 investor visas.

The EB-5 program gives green cards to foreign investors who create at least 10 jobs. The required investment amount was $1 million. Investors have also been able to make a $500,000 investment in a designated “Targeted Employment Area” (TEA).

A Targeted Employment Area is identified by a state as an area of high unemployment. It’s usually a rural area designated for economic development. The majority of EB-5 investors have set up businesses in TEAs.

However, an investigation last year pointed to potential gerrymandering that meant EB-5 investors were able to set up businesses in affluent areas for $500,000.

The new rule would:

  • Raise required investment amounts from $1 million to $1.8 million and from $500,000 to $1.35 million in deprived areas to reflect current dollar values; and
  • Allow foreign nationals to retain priority dates if an initial investment fails or stalls as they are waiting for a date to become current;
  • Give the Department of Homeland Security the power to designate regional centers. This would remove that responsibility from the states.

The changes were worked out in the final days of the Obama administration. They will be subject to review by the Trump administration.

If you are an overseas investor who wishes to bring job opportunities to Texas, it’s important to hire an immigration lawyer to help you with complicated EB-5 Investor visas. Please contact us for a consultation.

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