US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme

Deepanshu Choudhry
Deepanshu Choudhry

By Deepanshu Choudhry

Published: Thu 24 Mar 2022, 12:00 AM

Providing comprehensive and detailed information on the changes coming into effect in immigrant investor programme



March 15, 2022, marked a new beginning for the people aspiring to migrate to the US through the well-known US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme. This was the day the new EB-5 Reform and Integrity act came into effect upon signing of the general omnibus spending bill by US President Joe Biden. The new EB-5 reform bill became a part of the general omnibus spending bill after many months of negotiation. Upon signing of this bill into law, the reauthorisation of the EB-5 Regional Center Programme has also come into effect, including several integrity measures focused to increase the programme’s transparency and protect the interests of immigrant investors.

The expiry of EB-5 Regional Center programme in June 2021 put a hold on the pending green card applications under the Regional Center programme, thus leading existing investors stranded in a process standstill. This continued stalemate situation triggered lobbyists and industry experts to come into action and aggressively push for reauthorisation of the Regional Center Program and along with that, negotiate for other changes imperative for the long-term sustainability of the programme. During this time, the Direct EB-5 Programme remained active and available for new investors at the price of $500,000 and a significant surge was witnessed in the demand for the permanent direct programme due to the looming uncertainty of the Regional Center Programme.

Highlights of the EB-5 Reform Bill

A. Grandfathering: The new bill preserves the eligibility of all previously filed investors as of the time they have filed their i-526 so that they could safely complete their green card processes.

B. Increase in the investment amount: The investment amount has jumped to $800,000 under the new bill for Targeted Employment Areas and $1,050,000 in all other areas.

C. Definition change of Targeted Employment Areas: Targeted Employment Areas are rural areas or high unemployment areas. The changed definition will adopt a conservative approach while defining Targeted Employment Areas and will narrow down the scope rather than adopting the broader scope previously used, where high unemployment rates in bordering census tracts had allowed for city centres to qualify as Targeted Employment Areas.

D. Strict categorisation of pooled investments: All pooled investments going forward would need to fall under the Regional Center programme. This means that direct pooled investments would no longer be eligible (for example a group of people who would like to invest and start a direct business). In such instances, the group should get their project sponsored by a Regional Center in order to qualify.

E. Strict compliance requirements for regional centres: Regional centres will be required to keep all records and undergo USCIS audits every five years, while annual reports must include certifications for securities compliance including disclosure of all marketing fees paid.

F. Mandatory background checks: Individuals with questionable past records in both business dealings and otherwise shall be barred after security checks, from getting involved at any organisational level under the EB-5 programme.

G. Mandatory registrations: Promoters and foreign agents shall register with USCIS and follow USCIS guidelines for immigration and securities compliance. They must have written agreements in place, and should make full disclosures in writing to all clients/investors which will be filed with investor petitions.

In addition to the above said, several other impending integrity measures to increase the program’s transparency and protect good faith immigrant investors are included and implemented with the new reform bill.

New filings under the EB-5 programme will be only allowed after the moratorium period of sixty (60) days from the implementation date of March 15, 2022. The purpose of this 60-day window is for USCIS to interpret the language and obligations set forth in the EB-5 reform bill and to enable projects and other EB-5 industry stakeholders to comply with the new regulations and structure their offerings and documentation accordingly as per the new requirements.

Step Global has very interesting fast-track eligible EB-5 projects available under the new regulations at $800,000. Since the development of these projects shall contribute to critical sectors like agriculture and defense, these projects should be eligible for the national expedite under the EB-5 programme which if approved, will enable applicants to receive the green card in approximately 12 months time as compared to the traditional processing times of around 24 to 36 months.

Other attractive immigration opportunities

A surge in the demand for permanent residency or citizenship of economically developed countries is observed in this present post-Covid era. The difficult asymmetry witnessed by people during the pandemic across the world in global distribution of wealth, healthcare and security provisions, has led to a new trend of favoritism towards economically developed countries. As a result, many other developed nations like Canada and Portugal have also opened their immigration routes for foreign nationals via investment immigration streams. Such countries are receiving abundant interest from potential immigrants who are ready to invest and migrate to these countries with the aim to secure the highest levels of life satisfaction, financial security, personal safety and health.

CANADA PR BY INVESTMENT

The Canadian government is broadly focused on buoying up the culture of entrepreneurship in the form of new businesses/start-ups in Canada by attracting foreign investments and adding varied skill sets to its professional demography. The government has rolled out a well calibrated immigration programme with the aim to strengthen foreign investment sentiment and attract skilled professionals or entrepreneurs from across the world. The programme is principally compiled to build a platform that allows flourishing of small and medium scale enterprises which are based on conceptually distinctive and sustainable business ideas, thus leading to creation of more jobs and bolstering the skill intensive industries like information technology to become at par with the standards of the US Silicon Valley.

This programme directly grants Canadian permanent residency status to the main applicant along with his/her dependents that include spouse and children under the age of 22. Once the applicants acquire permanent residency, they have all the rights and benefits of social security, healthcare, education and employment.

PORTUGAL RESIDENCY PERMIT FOR FOREIGN INVESTORS — (GOLDEN VISA PROGRAMME)

In its effort to improve economic diplomacy and to encourage foreign investment, the Portuguese government offers a mechanism that allows foreign non-EU nationals to make investments in Portugal under certain conditions, granting them in return a residency permit. The government encourages overseas investments and allows investments and profits to be withdrawn by foreign residents. Portugal’s Golden Visa residency permit grants non-EU nationals the same treatment as Portuguese citizens, particularly with respect to the social security, tax benefits, European Union (EU) membership, etc. It also grants access to goods and services available to the public, as well as the application of provisions that grant them special rights: We can say that with the resident permit, non-EU foreign nationals are really citizens of Europe. One of the main advantages for non-EU nationals to obtain a Portuguese residency permit through its Golden Visa Programme is the possibility to acquire Portuguese citizenship. Due to conversations where the EU is considering eliminating such programmes over the next several years, now is the time for those who wish to be granted access to the EU, to take advantage of the Golden Visa programme.

– The writer is a Legal Manager at Step Global Group


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