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What is the future of the EB-5 visa program?

by | Mar 24, 2021 | EB-5

The EB-5 visa allows investors and immediate family members living in other countries to realize their own American dream. The program provides them permanent resident status without a sponsoring U.S. employer. Instead, they make a qualifying investment to build a business that helps the overall economy and by each investor creating ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

The one constant in pursuing any type of visa is the lengthy process applicants have to endure due to the significant backlog of applications waiting for adjudication. The EB-5 program is not immune to the burdensome bureaucracy. In fact, over the last few years it went from being one of the quicker pathways to a green card to one of the lengthier processes for those looking to secure a green card. Raising the stakes is the pending expiration of the EB-5 Regional Center program at the end of June 2021. (Note that the “direct” EB-5 Program will remain open and unchanged.)

Hope for the future

The newly-introduced Grassley-Leahy bill is currently under consideration in Congress and would provide for a five-year extension of the EB-5 Regional Center program. Another encouraging improvement is that the Citizenship Act of 2021 would provide additional visas for EB-5 investors and reclaim those that were lost in previous years. Current numbers put the shortfall at 8,000 visas annually for 18 years. Also, the per-country cap would disappear.

Certain steps can be taken to eliminate the bureaucratic backlog, starting with the act proposing to take away country caps in employment-based immigrant visas. That step would help eliminate the backlogs for applicants from China and Vietnam, but it could create greater processing delays for applicants from all other countries.

Many consider the program – that enjoys rare bipartisan support – to be an essential component for the country’s future prosperity while addressing specific problems. The U.S. is facing a funding gap of approximately two trillion dollars needed in the next few years. The EB-5 program could potentially generate billions of dollars while creating thousands of jobs for U.S. workers.