Late last week, congressional staffers released a draft bill to reform the EB-5 immigrant investor program. If enacted, the bill would make major changes to the EB-5 regional center program. Among other things, the draft 55-page bill would make the following changes:
- Reauthorize the regional center part of the EB-5 program for six years, to 2023. This would create greater stability for the program, which has been suffering from short-term extensions for several years now.
- Raise the minimum investment amounts from the current $500,000 for investments in targeted employment areas (TEAs) and $1 million in non-TEAs to $925,000 for certain projects and $1,025,000 for other projects.
- Eliminate the current TEA definitions and replace them with new concepts of rural, priority urban investment areas, U.S. territories, and base realignment and closure (BRAC) areas.
- Raise the minimum job creation requirement from the current 10 jobs for all EB-5 projects to 12 jobs in projects at the $1,025,000 level and lower the job creation requirement to nine jobs for projects at the $925,000 level.
- Create annual set-asides of 1,450 visas for people who invest in rural EB-5 projects; 1,450 visas for people who invest in EB-5 projects in priority urban areas; and 200 visas for people who invest in infrastructure-related EB-5 projects.
- Impose a four-month moratorium from the date of enactment on any new EB-5 filings to allow the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to publish implementing regulations and update its forms. However, EB-5 petitions filed before the date of enactment would continue to be processed.
- Impose new requirements on regional centers for filing project documents. For example, regional centers would have to certify that, to the best of their knowledge, they are complying with securities laws and have policies in place to confirm that all parties associated with the regional center are also complying.
- Impose a new annual fee on regional centers of $10,000 for regional centers that have fewer than 20 investors and $20,000 for other regional centers.
Congress might enact the EB-5 reform package as part of a general government spending bill by March 23. There is no guarantee this draft bill will become law, but it does appear to be the best chance in a long time for legislative reform of the EB-5 program.
If you have any questions about the new draft EB-5 bill, please contact your Miller Mayer EB-5 attorney.