15 Jul White House Visa Modernization Report Proposes Changes to EB-5 – Increase minimum investment
Today, the White House released a report on modernizing the U.S. visa system that included updates/enhancements to the EB-5 Regional Center program.
oday, the White House released a report on modernizing the U.S. visa system that included updates/enhancements to the EB-5 Regional Center program.
The White House echoes DHS’s call for enactment of statutory enhancements, including:
- Broader discretion to deny or revoke EB-5 cases, especially when criminal activity has occurred.
- Prohibition on persons with criminal or securities violations from participating in EB-5 Regional Centers
- Authority to require Regional Centers to certify compliance with securities laws.
The White House also announced planned DHS rule making in the EB-5 Regional Center program to:
- Increase the minimum investment amount (for TEA cases).
- Require conflict of interest disclosures by Regional Center principals.
- Enhanced background checks of Regional Center principals.
- Improve adjudication and approval of Regional Center applications.
- Clarify rules to allow use of visitor visas by potential EB-5 investors.
- Adopt a protocol to avoid actual or perceived improper outside influence.
The text from the Modernization Report on EB-5 is set out below:
C. Immigrant Investor Visa
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5 Program) was created by Congress in 1990. The program is designed to serve our nation’s interest by promoting the immigration of people who
invest their capital in new, restructured, or expanded businesses and projects and by doing so help create or preserve needed jobs for U.S. workers.
Through the EB-5 Program, immigrants who invest certain amounts of capital in job-creating businesses and projects in the United States receive conditional LPR status for two years. After two years, EB-5 recipients can have the conditions on their LPR status removed if they demonstrate that they have satisfied all the conditions of the program and continue to meet other eligibility criteria. Each year, 10,000 EB-5 immigrant visas are available for individuals (and their immediate family members) who invest in commercial enterprises that create at least 10 U.S. jobs within two years. EB-5 investors may petition independently or as part of a USCIS-approved “Regional Center” investment project.
Over the past four years, USCIS has made significant enhancements to the administration of the EB-5 program, including the creation of new specialized intake teams with expertise in economic analysis and program requirements, as well as issuance of updated policy guidance to provide greater clarity for potential EB-5 visa applicants.
Significant opportunities remain to further improve the integrity and impact of the program, including measures to: (a) enhance protections against fraud, abuse, and criminal misuse of the program by both petitioners and Regional Centers; (b) ensure that the program is achieving its greatest potential impact in terms of U.S. job creation, economic growth, and investment; and (c) reduce unnecessary burdens and uncertainties on the part of petitioners, Regional Centers, and other participants in the program.
Secretary Johnson also directed the creation of a new protocol to ensure that the program remains “free from the reality or perception of improper outside influence,” which has been adopted. The Secretary also renewed the Department’s call for Congress to enact a number of statutory enhancements to the program’s integrity, including added legal discretion to deny or revoke cases when necessary, particularly where there are criminal activity or national security concerns; authority to prohibit people with criminal violations and fraud- or securities-related civil violations from participating in EB-5 Regional Centers; and authority to require Regional Centers to certify compliance with our securities laws. In addition to the recommendations below, DHS will continue to explore other options for further strengthening the EB-5 program’s integrity and functioning.
Recommendation 1: Update standards for the EB-5 Program. By enhancing program integrity and updating eligibility requirements, this program can better serve our nation. DHS intends to pursue rulemaking to achieve those goals, including by requiring conflict-of-interest disclosures by Regional Center principals, enhancing background checks and public disclosure requirements, and increasing the minimum qualifying level of investment. DHS will also take steps to improve the adjudication and approval of Regional Center applications.
Recommendation 2: Clarify options for potential EB-5 investors to obtain visitor visas. State will amend its guidance in the Foreign Affairs Manual to clarify that potential EB-5 investors can obtain visitor visas to examine or monitor potential qualifying investments if they otherwise qualify for the visitor visa.
The report is attached and links to the White House page: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/07/15/bringing-our-immigration-system-digital-age and report: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/final_visa_modernization_report1.pdf
Download full report here