U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced new EB-5 regulations that will be published tomorrow (7/24/2019) and become effective on 11/21/2019. These are the first significant changes to the program since it was created by U.S. Congress in 1990. Our firm will be providing more details soon, but major changes include:
1) New Investment Amounts: The minimum investment amount will be $1.8 million. Projects located in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) will have a minimum investment amount of $900,000. However, changes in TEA designation process may make it extremely difficult for most projects in desirable areas to qualify for TEA designation.
2) Modified TEA Designations: TEA determinations will rest with USCIS and will likely be much narrower due to limits on aggregating or combining contiguous census tracts. If projects are limited to a single or “directly adjacent” census tracts, it may make most projects $1.8 million.
3) New Rules for Priority Date Retention: Petitioners will be able to retain their Priority Date from previously approved I-526 petitions if they later have to file a new I-526 petition. This flexibility protects investors who have approved I-526 petitions but may have their eligibility jeopardized due to circumstances out of their control (such as Regional Center termination). This flexibility also allows some creative switching in investment strategies after filing without jeopardizing Priority Date. No gifting or transferring Priority Dates from primary applicants/petitioners to derivative beneficiaries.
4) I-829 Flexibility: Derivative Family Members must file their own petitions at the I-829 stage if they are not included on the investor’s own I-829 petition.
It is important to understand that these new regulations will become effective on 11/21/2019, 120 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. “Properly filed petitions” before that time will be adjudicated under current EB-5 rules. (Note: Please keep in mind that given the 120-day window before the regulations are effective, there is a chance that the EB-5 program may be reauthorized (prior to 9/30/2019) with new reforms making these new regulations from USCIS moot through a new reauthorization statute.)
We now have 120 days before these new regulations become effective. Our dedicated EB-5 group has filed thousands of EB-5 petitions during the past two years and have worked closely with our partners/clients to successfully file their EB-5 cases prior to meet various timelines. Our current partners and clients are advised to contact us immediately to ensure all cases are properly submitted before these new rules come into effect on 11/21/2019.