The regional center program, formerly the most common EB-5 investment model, has been defunct since June 2021. As a result, many investors have been unable to continue the EB-5 visa process, with no guarantees regarding if or when the program will be reauthorized. In an effort to force the program’s reauthorization, Behring Companies filed a lawsuit against United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Department of State (DOS), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If successful, these government agencies will be forced to process I-526 petitions from regional center investors, which have been paused since the summer of 2021 and to reauthorize the regional center model.
Behring has a track record of success in taking legal action against government agencies related to the EB-5 industry. In June 2021, the company won a court case that repealed the EB-5 Modernization Rule, which lowered the minimum EB5 investment thresholds back to $500,000. As of February 2022, the court’s decision in that case still stands.
The Urgency Behind Reauthorizing the Regional Center Program
The regional center EB-5 investment model has many stakeholders, from investors and their families to business owners, immigration attorneys and more. As a result of the program’s suspension, which as of February 2022 has gone on for eight months, all of these stakeholders have faced serious inconveniences. The regional center program is subject to frequent reauthorization and has experienced a very brief lapse before, which led all stakeholders to believe that this suspension would be resolved quickly. However, since reauthorization is still pending, investors haven’t been able to continue in their EB-5 investment visa process, regional center projects have been put completely on hold, and billions of dollars may be at risk.
Behring’s lawsuit is representative of the feelings of the thousands of investors and other stakeholders who simply want to have their I-526 petitions adjudicated and be able to move on from this challenging time.
There is hope that the regional center program will be reauthorized as early as March 11, 2022. What the program really needs is permanent reauthorization, but it is certainly in the best interest of everyone in the industry for the program to receive at least temporary reauthorization as quickly as possible.