The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has raised the threshold investment level for EB5 visa from $1 million to $1.8 million. However, applications currently under process — and those filed until November 21, when the new rules become applicable — shall continue to attract the existing investment threshold.
Under the new rules, individuals need to invest $900,000 in a Targeted Employment Area, as against $500,000 earlier. For investments in other parts of the country the threshold investment level has gone up to $1.8 million from $1 million required earlier.
Immigration lawyers expect a rush of fresh applications between now and November to avail of the lower investment threshold. Indians are among the top five applicants in the EB5 Immigrant Investor Program. A total of 10,000 EB5 immigration visas are issued each year. Experts estimate that 1,200 applications from high net worth Indians are on the waitlist for the EB5 visa.
An Indian investor typically has to wait for around eight years to qualify for unconditional permanent residence in the US. “With investors from all over the world likely to rush to file applications before the hike in investments come into force, those filing after November 21 may face a much longer waiting period for the Green Card,” said Vivek Tandon, chief executive officer, EB5 BRICS, an immigration advisory firm.
The investor programme involves investing in government-approved business in designated Targeted Employment Areas (TEA). Alternatively, investors could choose to invest privately and create at least 10 full-time jobs in the country.
The new rules have effected some changes in rules as to how the TEAs are identified. Investors must ensure that the TEA projects are in full compliance with the new norms, said Tandon.
Rogelio Caceres, co-founder, LCR Capital Partners, pointed out that although the effective date for the new rules is four months away, the EB5 Regional Center programme sunsets on September 30. He said investors must be in a position to invest by September 30 to avoid the hike in the investment threshold.
There have been no changes in the standards used by the US government for scrutiny of source of funds of the investor. However, the existing rules require comprehensive examination of the legitimacy of the source of funds, experts added.