USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. The new rules for the EB-5 program, which many in the Indian American community use, will become effective on Nov. 21 of this year. (Twitter/USCISCuccinneli photo)

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget published the final rule regarding EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization changes July 25, according to a U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services news release.

Most notably coming from the new rule is the increase in the minimum investment amount requirement, which ballooned from $500,000 to $900,000 for projects in Targeted Employment Areas, to account for inflation, the USCIS said. Many in the Indian American community use these visas.

Future adjustments will also be tied to inflation and occur every five years, it added.

“Nearly 30 years ago, Congress created the EB-5 program to benefit U.S. workers, boost the economy, and aid distressed communities by providing an incentive for foreign capital investment in the United States,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. 

This rule amends previous Department of Homeland Security regulations concerning the employment-based, fifth preference (EB-5) immigrant investor classification, specifically regarding the modernization of the EB-5 program.

The new rule modernizes the EB-5 program by: providing priority date retention to certain EB-5 investors; increasing the required minimum investment amounts to account for inflation; reforming certain targeted employment area designations; clarifying USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence; and making other technical and conforming revisions.

Under the EB-5 program, eligible individuals can apply for lawful permanent residence within the United States by investing in a U.S.-based commercial enterprise and creating 10 full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

Changes to the regulations include reformed TEA designations, priority date retention, an increase in the minimum investment amounts, and clarifications on USCIS procedures for removing permanent residence conditions.

The rule is being issued to include EB-5 program reforms and update of existing policies, according to a news release.

Specifically of interest to individuals looking to invest is the timeline for implementation, which will take effect Nov. 21 of this year.

“Since its inception, the EB-5 program has drifted away from Congress’s intent. Our reforms increase the investment level to account for inflation over the past three decades and substantially restrict the possibility of gerrymandering to ensure that the reduced investment amount is reserved for rural and high-unemployment areas most in need,” Cuccinelli said. “This final rule strengthens the EB-5 program by returning it to its Congressional intent.”

Potential investors are encouraged to file their EB-5 application before these and other changes take effect in the next few months, the release said. Increased interest in the EB-5 visa has the U.S. Department of State anticipating longer wait times for EB-5 principal investors.

"Now is the best time for to secure an early priority date as the waiting list will only get longer the closer we get to November 21st," experienced U.S. immigration lawyer and EB-5 investment banker Vivek Tandon said in a statement. "The wait time for an EB-5 visa is still much shorter than other green card programs and continues to offer attractive benefits for investors."

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