Throughout most of its more than 30-year history, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has leaned on the ever-popular EB-5 Regional Center Program to help guide foreign nationals through the EB-5 investment process and maximize the job creation potential of the program while protecting investors’ interests. Given the overwhelming success of the regional center program and the economic stimulation it has provided to the United States, it may surprise prospective investors to learn that the regional center program has not been made permanent. Instead, it is subject to continual reauthorizations from Congress, which can cause headaches for EB5 investment stakeholders.
Traditionally, the regional center program has been extended in conjunction with a wider government spending bill, which has all but guaranteed its reauthorization. That has changed with Congress’s December 2020 decision to divorce the popular program from the spending bill, setting an EB-5 Regional Center Program sunset date of June 30, 2021. Without the security of the larger bill to back it up, the regional center program must now stand on its own merits to gain reauthorization—and industry leaders fear it will fail without EB-5 reform.
Fortunately, bipartisan duo Senators Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy have proposed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act, which proposes a wide range of reform measures for the EB-5 program, including strengthening security and anti-fraud measures, more stringently protecting investors’ interests, and reauthorizing the regional center program through 2024. The downside of the proposed legislation is that it could usher in stricter application requirements, making it harder for new applicants to initiate an EB5 investment. But there’s still time left until June 30, 2021: if you manage your time carefully, you can submit your I-526 petition before the June 30 deadline.
Identify a Reputable Regional Center
It’s not mandatory to make an EB-5 investment through a regional center, but it is recommended due to the numerous advantages regional center investment offer. Specifically, with a regional center investment, EB-5 applicants can enjoy a higher level of freedom, involving themselves in the management of the new commercial enterprise (NCE) simply by signing on as a limited partner. Even more importantly, those with EB5 investments through regional centers can count indirect and induced jobs in their job creation calculations, making it easier to obtain a U.S. green card.
The access to highly experienced EB-5 experts with a duty to maximize investors’ chances of immigration success cannot be understated, either. This makes selecting a reputable, trustworthy EB-5 center imperative. When browsing regional centers, reach out and ask their staff a wide array of questions to ascertain the quality of the organization.
Hire an Immigration Lawyer
Attempting the EB-5 investment process without an EB-5 immigration attorney is highly unadvisable. Hiring an immigration lawyer is recommended even for those making their EB5 investment through a regional center—and not just any immigration lawyer will do. Given the specific, complicated legislation surrounding the EB-5 program and its fundamentally different nature from conventional immigration programs, an EB-5 investment necessitates the expert advice of an immigration attorney specialized in EB-5 immigration. When looking for an EB-5 immigration lawyer, ask questions regarding the length of time they’ve served in the EB-5 industry, how many EB-5 investors they have represented in the past, and their track record of approved I-526 and I-829 petitions.
Gather Documentation for the I-526 Petition
An I-526 petition, which is the first petition an EB5 investment participant files with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), requires not only personal information about the investor and any accompanying family members but also data on their chosen EB-5 project and their EB-5 capital. Most daunting for most EB-5 investors is the requirement to prove that their EB-5 funds were obtained lawfully, which can be a time-consuming and intensive process, especially if an investor must trace funds back several years. In some cases, the investor may no longer possess the applicable documentation, requiring them to request it from companies or government bodies.
Working with an EB-5 immigration attorney throughout the source-of-funds process is particularly crucial, as an experienced EB-5 lawyer understands what USCIS is looking for and which of an investor’s available fund sources will be easiest to demonstrate. The advice an immigration lawyer provides could be critical in the document-gathering stage of I-526 preparation. Given the complexity of sourcing one’s legally obtained funds, EB-5 investors who wish to apply before June 30, 2021, should start working on their applications immediately.