The United States’ international travel ban, which had been in force since early 2020, was lifted on November 8, 2021. Now, travelers from 33 formerly banned countries can once again enter the United States.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the U.S. government has instated several new rules designed to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The foremost of these is the requirement for all noncitizens to be fully vaccinated before entering the United States. U.S. citizens will not need to be vaccinated, and exceptions will also be made for noncitizens who are unable to get vaccinated due to health reasons. Regardless of their vaccination status, all travelers entering the United States must present a negative COVID test.
What This Means for the EB-5 Program
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on EB-5 investors and project developers. Due to the widespread travel bans and lockdowns, many EB-5 projects found themselves in financial trouble. Moreover, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) nearly laid off about 70% of its employees due to reduced income during 2020.
The gradual economic recovery from the pandemic is undoubtedly beneficial to the EB-5 industry. Now, many more foreign nationals who are considering the EB5 investment program can come to the United States and visit open EB-5 projects. The return of international travel will also make it easier for potential EB-5 investors to meet project developers in person and learn about their offerings. Countries with high historic numbers of EB-5 investors, such as Vietnam and Brazil, had been banned from nonessential travel to the United States.
2021 has been a significant year for the EB-5 investment industry; EB-5 stakeholders have experienced many policy changes and new developments in recent months. June 2021 was a particularly eventful month that saw the repeal of the EB-5 Modernization Rule and the expiration of the regional center program.
The repeal of the Modernization Rule was welcome news for EB-5 investment stakeholders because it lowered the minimum investment threshold. Now, EB-5 investments of only $500,000 can be made in targeted employment area (TEA) projects. In addition, the temporary suspension of the regional center program has shifted investors’ focus toward direct EB-5 investment, which does not depend on periodic reauthorization. Interested foreign nationals should act quickly to make a direct EB-5 investment and begin the EB-5 process.