Good news for the many EB-5 investors abroad who have been waiting eagerly to resume their journey to an EB-5 green card: the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs has announced the phased resumption of routine visa services at U.S. consulates and embassies. Consulates have been closed since March 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on public life in most countries, including the United States.
The effects on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program have also been profound, with United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) offices in the United States being closed to the public for several months and EB-5 investors abroad stalled in their EB-5 process due to the closure of embassies. While investors already residing in the United States under different visas have still been able to file I-485 petitions and receive EB-5 visas, investors living abroad have been unable to attend visa interviews and thereby unable to move forward.
While the announcement is good news for some, it doesn’t help all EB-5 investors. According to the Department of State, each embassy or consulate will determine its own opening based on the local situation. Investors are encouraged to check the website of the individual embassy or consulate for details. The Department of State will also post on its official website updates of when various consulates resume specific visa services.
Advancing in the EB-5 Program as Consulates Reopen
As a result of the presidential proclamation signed into law on June 22, 2020, that suspends many forms of employment-based immigration until the end of 2020, U.S. consulates and embassies should have lighter workloads than normal. Since EB-5 investors are exempt from the immigration ban, this may significantly speed up their wait times for visa appointments and interviews.
The EB-5 program can also be beneficial to the United States as it navigates the aftermath of this unforeseen crisis. As U.S. businesses begin to reopen, a damaged economy stares back at them, and millions of freshly unemployed Americans no longer have the necessary disposable income to buy nonessential goods. EB-5 investors and the millions in foreign capital they bring to the United States can help revitalize the U.S. economy and help it flourish once again.
It’s also an opportune time for new investors to consider the lucrative opportunities the EB-5 program offers. Due to the hardships the program has faced throughout 2020, fewer I-526 petitions have been filed, resulting in shorter wait times for the investors who do decide to pursue the program. Furthermore, since the COVID-19 pandemic has particularly ravaged major cities such as New York City and Los Angeles, more areas in these cities may now qualify as targeted employment areas (TEAs).
If you’re an Indian national, it’s an especially good time to invest in the EB-5 program. In July 2020, the Indian EB-5 final action date finally became current, and it’s projected to maintain this status for the foreseeable future. That means EB-5 visas are expected to be readily available for Indian investors, and they may begin their lives in the United States sooner than their counterparts in backlogged countries.