By Mark Katzoff

The omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Trump on March 23, 2018 included a six month extension of the EB-5 regional center program to September 30. This marks the latest in a series of short-term extensions over the last few years while Congress has attempted to agree upon legislation providing more substantive changes to the EB-5 program in general.

Among the issues addressed by proposed legislation that was not passed by Congress:

  • Increases in the minimum investment amounts
  • Changes in the methods of determining targeted employment areas (“TEAs”)
  • Set-asides of a portion of the visas issuable under the EB-5 program for projects located in rural areas
  • Enhanced compliance requirements for regional centers

Another potential avenue for changes in the EB-5 program are the proposed regulations published by the USCIS in January 2017, which, among other things, would do the following:

  • Increase the minimum investment amounts from $500,000 and $1 million to $1.35 million and $1.8 million respectively with adjustments every 5 years based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers
  • Grant the USCIS the sole authority to designate TEAs, eliminating the rights of states to make such designations within their borders, and revise the standards for determining TEAs
  • Allow investors with an approved I-526 petition to keep the priority date of that petition for any subsequently filed I-526 petition

The USCIS would need to approve final regulations in order for them to take effect and it is unclear when, or if, they may do so. Seyfarth will continue to monitor the status of the regulations and provide additional updates as warranted.