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USCIS Resumes EB-5 Processing of Regional Centers After One Year Hiatus

Great news for foreign investors seeking a Green Card! On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed a law that (1) made changes to the EB-5 program, (2) authorized a new EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, and (3) directed that certain “grandfathered” immigration benefits be processed. The Department has resumed processing visas associated with the Regional Center Program based on approved USCIS Forms I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur), including those filed on or before the expiration of the previous regional center program on June 30, 2021. Further, pursuant to the new legislation, processing of visas associated with the new Regional Center Program may begin 60 days after enactment of the law (May 14, 2022). The program will be in effect through Sept. 30, 2027.


WHAT IS THE EB-5 PROGRAM?


USCIS administers the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, created by Congress in 1990, to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a program first enacted as a pilot in 1992, and regularly reauthorized since then, investors may also qualify for EB-5 classification by investing through Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. On Dec. 27, 2020, President Trump signed a law extending the Regional Center Program through June 30, 2021.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE EB-5 PROGRAM?

  1. EB-5 visas lead to a Green Card for the applicant, their spouse, and their children under the age of 21.

  2. The EB-5 visa is available to applicants from all countries--unlike the E-2 visa--which excludes citizens from countries like India, Russia, China, and Brazil (see the list of eligible E-2 countries).

  3. EB-5 applicants do not need an employer sponsor, since they can self-sponsor.

  4. Green Card holders can work for any employer, anywhere in the United States.

  5. Green Card holders' children can attend U.S. Public schools, among other benefits.

WHAT TYPE OF INVESTMENT IS REQUIRED?


All EB-5 investors must invest in a new "commercial enterprise" that was established:

  • After Nov. 29, 1990; or

  • On or before Nov. 29, 1990, that was:

  • Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results; or

  • Expanded through the investment, resulting in at least a 40% increase in the net worth or number of employees.

"Commercial enterprise" means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business, including:

  • A sole proprietorship;

  • Partnership (whether limited or general);

  • Holding company;

  • Joint venture;

  • Corporation;

  • Business trust; or

  • Other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned.

This definition includes a commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, if each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.


This definition does not include "non-commercial activity," such as owning and operating a personal residence.


JOB CREATION REQUIREMENTS


An EB-5 investor must invest the required amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise that will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees.

  • For a new commercial enterprise not located within a regional center, the new commercial enterprise must directly create the full-time positions to be counted. This means that the new commercial enterprise (or its wholly owned​ subsidiaries), must itself be the employer of the qualifying employees.

  • For a new commercial enterprise located within a regional center, the new commercial enterprise can directly or indirectly create the full-time positions.

  • Direct jobs establish an employer-employee relationship between the new commercial enterprise and the persons it employs.

  • Indirect jobs are held outside of the new commercial enterprise but are created as a result of the new commercial enterprise.

  • In the case of a troubled business, the EB-5 investor may rely on job maintenance.

  • The investor must show that the number of existing employees is, or will be, no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least two years.

A "troubled business" is one that has been in existence for at least two years and has incurred a net loss during the 12- or 24-month period before the priority date on the immigrant investor’s Form I-526. The loss for this period must be at least 20% of the troubled business’ net worth before the loss. When determining whether the troubled business has been in existence for two years, USCIS will consider successors-in-interest to the troubled business when evaluating whether they have been in existence for the same period of time as the business they succeeded.


A "qualifying employee" is a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or other immigrant authorized to work in the United States, including a conditional resident, temporary resident, asylee, refugee, or a person residing in the United States under suspension of deportation. This definition does not include immigrant investors; their spouses, sons, or daughters; or any noncitizen in any nonimmigrant status (such as an H-1B nonimmigrant) or who is not authorized to work in the United States.


"Full-time employment" means employment of a qualifying employee by the new commercial enterprise in a position that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week. In the case of the regional center program, full-time employment also means employment of a qualifying employee in a position that has been created indirectly that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week.


A "job-sharing arrangement" where two or more qualifying employees share a full-time position will count as full-time employment, provided the hourly requirement per week is met. This definition does not include combinations of part-time positions even if, when combined, the positions meet the hourly requirement per week.


Jobs that are intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient do not qualify as permanent full-time jobs. However, jobs that are expected to last at least two years are generally not considered intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient.


CAPITAL INVESTMENT REQUIREMENTS


"Capital" means cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents, and indebtedness secured by assets owned by immigrant investors, if they are personally and primarily liable and the assets of the new commercial enterprise upon which the petition is based are not used to secure any of the indebtedness. All capital will be valued at fair-market value in U.S. dollars. Assets acquired, directly or indirectly, by unlawful means (such as criminal activities) will not be considered capital.


Note: Immigrant investors must establish that they are the legal owner of the capital invested. Capital can include their promise to pay (a promissory note) under certain circumstances.


The minimum investment amounts by filing date and investment location are:


Minimum Investment Amount: USD $1,800,000


Targeted Employment Area*: USD $900,000


*A "targeted employment area" can be, at the time of investment, either:

  • A rural area; or

  • An area that has experienced high unemployment (defined as at least 150% of the national average unemployment rate).

A rural area is any area other than an area within a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or within the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the most recent decennial census of the United States.


ARE YOU INTERESTED IN LEARNING IF YOU QUALIFY FOR EB-5?


Schedule a call with us to determine whether you are eligible, and to begin the planning process. Please contact our office at info@gradyfirm.com, or call us at (949) 798-6298. You can also book a call directly on our website.

The Grady Firm works with dynamic employers and employees across the country to prepare successful employment-based visa and Green Card applications. In addition, we help individuals, families, employees, business owners, and investors obtain non-immigrant and immigrant visas (B-1/B2, H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, TN, E-2, E-3), as well and Green Cards and citizenship based on family relationships, investment, or employment.


Click here to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (949) 798-6298; or fill out a Contact Request Form.


This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.