On February 7, 2019, U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) and Ken Buck (R-CO-04) introduced H.R. 1044 ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019.’ The bill will amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to eliminate the per-country caps to all employment-based immigrant visa categories, including EB-5.
The EB-5 Regional Center trade organization IIUSA has analyzed the proposed bill and its effects on EB-5 investors and investments. IIUSA concludes that:
“While the elimination of per-country caps may make sense for some categories, the elimination of the per-country cap for EB-5 will be to the detriment of the [EB-5 immigrant investor] program,” stated IIUSA Executive Director Aaron Grau. IIUSA data concludes the elimination of per-country cap for EB-5 will eliminate any new EB-5 economic development investment to the United States for at least 10 years.
“In the past year alone, the EB-5 program is responsible for over $3 billion in new economic development and over 100,000 jobs in the United States. Not excluding EB-5 from this proposal will put this type of new investment at risk,” stated Grau.
A few of the key points found in IIUSA’s detailed analysis and report on the effects of removing per-country caps include:
1) Removing the per-country cap would make the EB-5 visa immediately unavailable for all existing EB-5 investors from the countries that are not currently experiencing the visa retrogression issue – including Brazil, South Korea, and the rest of the world (except for China and Vietnam). Hypothetically, in the first five years of the elimination of the per-country cap, we forecast that over 96% of the annual EB-5 visa allocation would be used by the existing Chinese EB-5 visa applicants and their qualified family members while the remaining 4% would be consumed by the existing EB-5 visa applicants and their family derivatives from Vietnam.
2) Without the per-country cap, all existing EB-5 investors from all countries other than China would face a longer wait to receive conditional permanent residency. Existing EB-5 investors from Vietnam and their family members would need to wait three (3) to five (5) years longer for their EB-5 visas; while existing Indian EB-5 investors and their qualifying family derivatives would face an increase of six (6) years or longer for their EB-5 visa waiting time.
3) New EB-5 investors from all foreign countries would have to wait for 11 years or longer to receive their conditional permanent residency if the per-country cap is eliminated. In contrast, under the per-country cap, these investors (except for the ones from China and Vietnam) and their qualifying family members currently can proceed for an EB-5 visa as soon as their I-526 petition is approved by USCIS, without any additional delay.
4) Removing the per-country cap would shorten the EB-5 visa waiting time for new EB-5 investors from China from 16 years to 11 years, a reduction of 31%.
IIUSA first reported on this proposed bill here: https://iiusa.org/blog/legislation-eliminate-per-countrylimits-employment-based-visas/
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