2020 has been an awful year for almost everybody, and EB-5 visa program participants are no exception. The pandemic-induced temporary suspension of routine visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates has prevented thousands of EB-5 investors and their families from receiving their U.S. green cards and starting their new lives in the United States.
But investors aren’t the only ones in the EB-5 world who’ve been suffering in 2020—EB-5 regional center owners are experiencing their own crisis. Since 2019, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been cracking down on regional centers, quick to hand out termination notices to those it deems not up to standard. In fact, between February 7, 2020, and September 17, 2020, USCIS terminated 184 EB-5 regional centers.
Trends in Regional Center Terminations and Approvals
The percentage of terminated EB-5 regional centers is significant. From 1,212 approved regional centers on February 7, 2020, the figure has dropped to 1,027 as of September 17, 2020, representing 15% of all approved regional centers. This loss is not offset by new regional center approvals, either—quite the contrary. The last new regional center approvals came in August 2019, meaning USCIS has not approved any new EB-5 regional centers in more than a year. Processing statistics up to FY2019 also indicate that new I-924 petition receipts have been low.
Why have so many regional centers been terminated in 2019 and 2020? Various factors can lead to regional center termination, but the overwhelming majority of regional centers have been terminated due to lack of investor activity. In other words, these regional centers offered EB-5 projects, but investors weren’t signing up to invest in them, and thus they were unable to fulfill their duty of stimulating the U.S. economy.
Why Choosing the Right Regional Center Is So Important
The dismal situation of EB-5 regional centers in 2019 and 2020 highlights the importance of conducting careful due diligence and selecting a reputable regional center you can rely on. If an EB-5 investor’s regional center is terminated, that doesn’t necessarily mean their I-526 petition will be denied, but it does significantly complicate their EB-5 process and necessitates significant amendments to their petition. The easiest, fastest, and least stressful EB-5 journey is with a highly reputable EB-5 regional center with a proven track record of successful projects.
The regional centers run by EB5 Affiliate Network (EB5AN) are a good example. EB5AN is a leading EB-5 consultancy business and service provider that operates 14 regional centers across the United States, covering more than 20 states and Washington, D.C. EB5AN has also partnered with other high-quality regional centers around the country to cover the remaining 30 states, offering prospective EB-5 investors a comprehensive network of trustworthy EB-5 regional centers that span the entire United States.
The news of rampant regional center terminations and lack of approvals is concerning to many participants in the EB-5 industry, including investors, but the truth is that investors need not worry so long as they work with a reputable EB-5 regional center with a proven record of success. Regional centers such as the ones managed by EB5AN stay up to date on any changes in USCIS regional center regulations and strictly follow the guidelines to always maintain compliance, providing a seamless EB-5 experience to their investors.