The December 2021 Visa Bulletin contained momentous news for the EB-5 investment industry: for the first time since 2015, all direct EB-5 investors would no longer be subject to final action dates or dates for filing. This positive development enables direct investors to apply for and receive their visas as soon as their I-526 petitions have been approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Fortunately, the January 2022 Visa Bulletin shows that all direct investors remain at “C” (current) status. Chinese EB-5 investors, who had been subject to cutoff dates since 2015, will undoubtedly benefit from possessing current status; many more foreign nationals will likely be able to move on with the EB-5 process and get closer to obtaining permanent resident status.
Despite the good news in the two most recent Visa Bulletins, the EB-5 Regional Center Program, which had been the most popular EB5 investment type, remains suspended as of December 2021. The U.S. government has failed to revalidate the regional center program since its expiration on June 30, 2021. This extended lapse has contributed to the popularity of direct EB-5 investment, which often grants investors many unique benefits such as increased managerial control and, possibly, higher returns.
Chart A of the January 2022 Visa Bulletin contains the final action dates for oversubscribed countries. As in the previous bulletin, all direct (“non-regional center”) investors enjoy “C” status and can receive their visas as soon as they are documentarily qualified.
The regional center values in Chart A are marked as “U” (unauthorized). In Section D of the Visa Bulletin, the Department of State (DOS) notes that, should the regional center program be reauthorized in January 2022, the final action date for regional center investors will be November 22, 2015. However, it is unlikely for regional center investment to be revalidated before February 2022.
The dates for filing are current for all direct investors, meaning that these EB-5 investment applicants no longer have to wait to request their visas. The date for filing for Chinese regional center investors remains at December 15, 2015.
It is unclear how long the regional center program will remain suspended, or how a possible reauthorization could affect the cutoff dates. Still, Chinese investors whose EB-5 visa petitions were put on hold due to the cutoff dates are surely relieved that they can now continue with the process.