New Guidance from The USCIS Addresses the EB-5 Program, Investment Durations, and the Impact of a Terminated Regional Center on an Investor’s Visa Application

The EB-5 immigrant visa program serves a very important purpose, granting legal status to investors and entrepreneurs whose contributions are vital to maintaining a healthy U.S. economy. The program imposes numerous and sometimes complicated requirements that demand the production of considerable evidence to secure a green card. Failure to meet all the various requirements may result in unnecessary delay or denial. A knowledgeable Maryland investor visa lawyer can help you ensure that your business plan is strong and that you have everything you need to secure your visa.

The program provides green cards to investors who infuse a set minimum amount into a job-creating commercial venture in the U.S. Today, that figure generally is $1 million. That number is only $500,000, however, if the commercial venture is placed in a targeted employment area (TEA.) The federal government defines “high unemployment” TEAs as areas where the unemployment rate is 1-1/2 times the national average or higher. Additionally, the program demands that the venture create at least 10 jobs. Those jobs don’t have to exist at the time of the investment but they must be created within 2 years.

In 2022, Congress passed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA), which amended the statutory sections that govern the EB-5 program. One of those changes added new statutory language requiring that EB-5 investments “be expected to remain invested for at least two years.” A new guidance document from the USCIS addressed an important question created by this modified statutory language: what’s the start date for this 2-year requirement?

The USCIS declared that it interpreted “the start date as the date the requisite amount of qualifying investment is made. In other words, we will use the date the investment was contributed to the new commercial enterprise and placed at risk in accordance with applicable requirements, including being made available to the job-creating entity.”

What Happens if a Regional Center Closes

The guidance document also addressed another subject matter impacted by the RIA: the fate of EB-5 applicants associated with regional centers that subsequently closed. The USCIS has defined a “regional center” as “an economic unit, public or private, in the United States, involved with promoting economic growth” and designated as such by the USCIS. Currently, the list of approved regional centers includes more than two dozen centers in Maryland.

There are 1,320 nationwide but another 544 have closed or been decertified by USCIS. Under the old rules, if you were associated with a terminated regional center, the USCIS would have deemed that a “material change” to your eligibility for a visa, and the termination likely would have triggered a denial of your petition. The RIA changed the rules and the USCIS now allows some “good faith” investors to keep their eligibility. The guidance declared that if the agency shuttered a regional center for “purely administrative” noncompliance, it “may determine that the termination would generally not adversely affect” the basic eligibility of pre-RIA investors “because their investment and resulting job creation would remain undisturbed.”

As this should illustrate, the EB-5 visa process is multifaceted, intricate, and complex. To make sure that you are truly on the pathway to a green card via the EB-5 program, you need the right legal advice and representation. The skilled Maryland investor visa attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC are here to help. We are keenly familiar with the government’s visa programs, including the EB-5, and our team knows how to guide an application from start to finish. Contact us today at 301-519-2801 or via our online form to set up your consultation.

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