In an effort to curb possible abuses, Congress held a hearing last year on “Citizenship for Sale: Oversight of the EB-5 Investor Visa Program.” The EB-5 program has been around for almost 30 years and was created by Congress to stimulate the economy. Congress acknowledges that some steps might need to be taken to limit abuses.

According to the UCSIS, here are improvements that have already been made to the EB-5 program:

  • USCIS hired additional officers dedicated to conducting EB-5 site visits.
  • USCIS expanded security checks.
  • USCIS partnered with other federal agencies like the SEC, FBI and ICE to strengthen the EB-5 program.
  • USCIS began remotely interviewing foreign investors seeking to remove their conditional status as part of a pilot program.
  • USCIS published revised forms to enhance data collection.
  • The Investor Program Office (IPO) created a new Compliance Division to review annual certifications and conduct compliance reviews.
  • USCIS publishes regional center termination notices and makes available lists of currently designated and terminated regional centers.

USCIS has also published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the EB-5 program. Late last month, the final regulation was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Upon approval, the rule could be in effect by the Summer of 2019.

Here are the changes to expect:

  • The current minimum investment is anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000, which would be raised from $1 million to $1.8 million for standard direct investments and from $500,000 to $1 million for targeted employment areas.
  • Allowing certain EB-5 petitioners to retain older EB-5 priority dates; and
  • Changing the designation process for targeted employment areas.

We will continue to keep you posted on any developments, and it remains to be seen if the same number of wealthy overseas investors will attempt to participate in the program after changes are adopted.