EB-5 Investor Visa Reauthorization in June 2021

Biden Administration Confirms Trump-Era Changes to EB-5 Investor Visa

The Biden Administration has moved to quash a lawsuit brought about by an EB-5 Regional Center that questioned the validity of changes to the EB-5 Investor Visa Program introduced in November 2019. By ratifying the changes, the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas puts an end to any speculation that the minimum investment level for the EB-5 Visa could be reduced back to $500,000 from the current $900,000.

Court Case

The principle line of argument in the court case was that the head of the Department for Homeland Security at the time had not been properly appointed. The then Acting Secretary, Kevin McAleenan, assumed leadership for the Department following the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen earlier in 2019.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a decision on this issue last summer stating that McAleenan was not in the line of succession and that his leadership was therefore invalid. Mayorkas acted to re-ratify the changes to ward off any uncertainty – going forwards at least.

Old EB-5 Regulations

If it had been successful, the case could have forced a return to the pre-November 2019 regulations. This not only included the lower investment amount, but also different rules surrounding what governs a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). These are zones that qualify for a lower EB-5 investment level because they have weaker employment levels. Outside of TEAs, the minimum EB-5 investment level is $1.8 million (or $1 million prior to November 2019).

The increased investment amount since November 2019 has pushed the EB-5 Investor Visa out of reach of many potential investors . Many of these clients have shifted their interest in the US to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, which has lower investment amounts. There is no fixed investment level for an E-2 Visa, but it must be appropriate for the business being invested in and generally starts from around $100,000.

Upcoming EB-5 Reauthorization

A reversal to the EB-5 rule change would have been short-lived in any case. The EB-5 Regional Center Program is facing reauthorization in Congress before the end of this quarter (June 30). We are confident that Congress will support a long term reauthorization of a reformed program since EB-5 is responsible for creating so much employment and investment all across America.

An EB-5 reform bill introduced jointly by Senior Democrat, Patrick Leahy, and a senior Republican, Chuck Grassley aims to reauthorize the program through to 2026 and make reforms to ensure high standards are met by EB-5 Regional Centers.

Despite some uncertainty over the next few months, the future of the EB-5 program looks strong. It played a valuable role in helping America recover from the 2007/8 financial crisis and can support the economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic. EB-5 has brought in millions of dollars in foreign investment and has created hundreds of thousands of jobs all around the country. All at no cost to the US taxpayer.

What is the EB-5 Investor Visa?

The EB-5 remains a fast route to a Green Card (except for people born in mainland China who face delays because of strong historic demand). A single investment can cover a qualifying family unit (applicant, spouse, children under the age of 21). It is important to work with an immigration attorney from the outset of the process. One of the most complicated aspects of an EB-5 application is proving that your investment funds came from legitimate sources.

At Davies & Associates we support each EB-5 client with a strong and talented team, which includes not only immigration attorneys, but also tax lawyers, and accountants who can advise on remittance laws in your home country. Green Card holders are subject to tax on worldwide earnings, so it is important to understand and plan for this at the outset of the process.

Read more about EB-5 Investor Visas


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


EB-5 Investor Visa Reauthorization in June 2021

EB-5 Visa: Lawsuit Seeks to Overturn Investment-Level Increase

A lawsuit filed by an EB-5 Regional Center is taking aim at the November 2019 price hike for the EB-5 Investor Visa. If successful, the minimum investment amount for EB-5 would return to USD 500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area. A federal judge in California has indicated she may be willing to reverse the Trump-Era changes to the EB-5 program rules after a lawsuit filed by Behring Regional Center. 

If successful, any changes would likely be short-lived. The EB-5 Regional Center Program is set to expire at the end of June and a reform and reauthorization proposal has started working its way through Congress could set the USD 900,000 minimum investment level in stone.  It is our opinion that the new EB-5 law in June would be revised to increase the price back to itS current level.

This means that there may be an extremely short window of time, possibly as little as days, in which to file an EB-5 I-526 Petition at USD 500,000.   Properly preparing a case to be filed can take weeks or longer depending on where the funds are coming from and will require investors to fund an EB-5 project which is configured to accept investment at that investment level.  Any investor potentially interested in availing themselves of the USD 500,000 investment level should therefore have their case ready so it can be filed at a moment’s notice.  

The minimum investment requirement for the EB-5 Investor Visa to USD 900,000 in November 2019 to take account of inflation since the program’s inception in the 1990s. The $900,000 amount relates to investments in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) – areas with relatively high unemployment. Outside of TEAs the minimum investment requirement rose from USD 1 million to UDS 1.8 million. The November-2019 rule change also centralised decision making around what constitutes a TEA, transferring authority for this to the Department for Homeland Security.

The rule changes had a significant impact on EB-5 uptake with a sharp drop-off after November 2019. This was partly due to so many people rushing to apply, exhausting pent up demand. Covid slowed the recovery, but green shoots have been emerging as the pandemic recedes. Long term reform and reauthorization in June will provide much-needed certainty and confidence to future investors. 

This federal court case could change calculations for some investors. If the price temporarily drops to USD 500,000 it could cause a massive rush to file EB-5 applications. The application process requires careful documentation of the source of funds used for the EB-5 investment. This can take time to prepare, so anyone considering an application or monitoring this court case for a drop in the investment level should contact us immediately. 

The court case comes at a time of brief uncertainty for the EB-5 Investor Visa Program. With reauthorization of the Regional Center Program required before the it expires in June, would-be investors need to weigh their options carefully. 

On the one hand, you could tie up your capital under uncertain conditions to pursue the EB-5 Regional Center in case it ends forever in June. Or on the other hand, you could wait until there is certainty in the second half of 2021, but know that the price of that certainty could mean the EB-5 route is closed to you forever. The risk is up to the client, but it is worth talking through your options with an immigration attorney. 

The likelihood is that the program will be renewed. The EB-5 Investor Visa brings in millions of dollars in investment and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs all across America at no cost to the taxpayer. It played a valuable role in America’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis and could do something similar as the US economy recovers from Covid.

Anyone who has already applied for an EB-5 Visa but is waiting an adjudication may wish to file a writ of mandamus in federal court ahead of the June 2021 expiry date. Usually applicants should wait at least two years before resorting to legal action against the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), but the June expiration may change this. Contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.


EB-5 Investor Visa Reauthorization in June 2021

Lawsuit Seeks to Reverse 2019 EB-5 Investor Visa Price Increase

A lawsuit filed by an EB-5 Regional Center is taking aim at the November 2019 price hike for the EB-5 Investor Visa. If successful, the minimum investment amount for EB-5 would almost halve back to $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area. A federal judge in California has indicated she may be willing to reverse the Trump-Era changes to the EB-5 program rules after a lawsuit filed by Behring Regional Center.

If successful, any changes would likely be short-lived. The EB-5 Regional Center Program is set to expire at the end of June and a reform and reauthorization proposal has started working its way through Congress could set the $900,000 minimum investment level in stone.

The minimum investment requirement for the EB-5 Investor Visa to $900,000 in November 2019 to take account of inflation since the program’s inception in the 1990s. The $900,000 amount relates to investments in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) – areas with relatively high unemployment. Outside of TEAs the minimum investment requirement rose from $1 million to $1.8 million. The November-2019 rule change also centralised decision making around what constitutes a TEA, transferring authority for this to the Department for Homeland Security.

The rule changes had a significant impact on EB-5 uptake with a sharp drop-off after November 2019. This was partly due to so many people rushing to apply, exhausting pent up demand. Covid slowed the recovery, but green shoots have been emerging as the pandemic recedes. Long term reform and reauthorization in June will provide much-needed certainty and confidence to future investors.

This federal court case could change calculations for some investors. If the price temporarily drops to $500,000 it could cause a massive rush to file EB-5 applications. The application process requires careful documentation of the source of funds used for the EB-5 investment. This can take time to prepare, so anyone considering an application or monitoring this court case for a drop in the investment level should contact us immediately.

The court case comes at a time of brief uncertainty for the EB-5 Investor Visa Program. With reauthorization of the Regional Center Program required before the it expires in June, would-be investors need to weigh their options carefully.

On the one hand, you could tie up your capital under uncertain conditions to pursue the EB-5 Regional Center in case it ends forever in June. Or on the other hand, you could wait until there is certainty in the second half of 2021, but know that the price of that certainty could mean the EB-5 route is closed to you forever. The risk is up to the client, but it is worth talking through your options with an immigration attorney.

The likelihood is that the program will be renewed. The EB-5 Investor Visa brings in millions of dollars in investment and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs all across America at no cost to the taxpayer. It played a valuable role in America’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis and could do something similar as the US economy recovers from Covid.

Anyone who has already applied for an EB-5 Visa but is waiting an adjudication may wish to file a writ of mandamus in federal court ahead of the June 2021 expiry date. Usually applicants should wait at least two years before resorting to legal action against the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), but the June expiration may change this. Contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.

Behring Regional Center


US Business Immigration Visas: L1, E2, EB5 Comparison Table

Our firm has helped hundreds of business owners and families move to the United States on EB-5, E-2 and L-1 visas. Which visa is best depends entirely on your unique personal circumstances. We recommend every new client have a free consultation with our team to discuss the various options in light of their personal goals, budgets and interests.

L-1 VisasE-1 VisasE-2 VisasEB-5 Visas
Visa available to nationals of any country?Nationals of treaty trader countries onlyNationals of treaty trader countries only
Must I have worked for a related company abroad for one year?
Ability of dependent Spouse to work in US
Can the visa be renewed into perpetuity assuming I re-qualify?
Is a business plan a very key element of a successful application?
Minimum investment RequiredSufficient to operate valid foreign business and US office or business entityNo theoretical minimum, but enough investment to create a real, viable, businessSufficient to fund business enterprise, generally > $100,000 although less is possibleEither USD 900,000
or USD 1,800,000

Visa Duration

One of the key differences is the length of time you can remain in the United States on each visa. The EB-5 visa leads directly to a Green Card (permanent residency). This means you can stay in the United States permanently until such a time as you opt to surrender your Green Card or apply to naturalize as a US citizen.

The L-1 visa and the E-2 visa are both non-immigrant visas. These do not offer permanent residency, but the E-2 visa is perhaps the next best thing because you can renew it indefinitely. Unlimited renewals means that you could technically live in the United States forever, provided the underlying business remains in operation.

The L-1 Visa is renewable up to a maximum of seven years for the L-1A visa and five years for the L-1B visa. After this time you would need to leave the US or transition to another visa or apply for a Green Card. It is best to discuss your options with an immigration attorney. Good fits for the L-1 visa are the EB-1(c) visa or the EB-3 visa. You can of course, also explore options for transitioning to a Green Card from an E-2 visa if you wish to make your presence in the US more permanent and not tied to the E-2 business.

The amount of time granted on your initial L-1 and E-2 visa will vary depending upon where you are from. Each country has a so-called reciprocity schedule which dictates the maximum visa validity period. Note that your visa might not be granted for the full period listed under your particular country. The authorities may wish you to return sooner to check on the status of your business. For example, “New Office L-1 visas” are granted for just a year initially, so checks on your progress can be made.

Investment Requirements

Each visa comes with a different associated investment requirement. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa – as the name suggests – offers a Green Card by investment. The investment requirements are $900,000 for investments in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and $1.8 million outside these areas. In practice, the Regional Centers who manage the vast majority of EB-5 investments all work in TEAs and so only the $900,000 applies. If you wish to do Direct EB-5, we would need to make sure the investment is placed in a TEA to qualify for the lower amount.

By conducting due diligence on the Regional Center and its project, an EB-5 investor can mitigate risks not only to the Green Card but also to the return of your capital. Most Regional Centers offer very low rates of interest (in many ways the Green Card itself is the return on the investment). By investing with a reputable Regional Center in a reliable project there is no reason why the investor should not see the return of their capital after several years.

There is no fixed investment requirement for the E-2 Visa. A good rule of thumb is that it should be in excess of $100,000 and must be appropriate for the business you are proposing to start or acquire. We have seen some successful E-2 applicants for less than $100,000, so we encourage you to contact us regardless. The investment does not only need to be cash – it can also be in stocks of inventory, patents, equipment etc.

The L-1 visa does not require investment if you are simply transferring from the overseas branch to the existing branch of a multinational company. New Office L-1 visas inevitably require investment to set up and grow the new US office. This needs to be suitable to the needs of the business.

Work Authorization

The EB-5 visa offers complete freedom to work (or not work) in the United States. A single application/investment can include not just the applicant but any spouse and children under the age of 21. Each family member receives their own Green Card meaning they are free to work in the United States. We find many of our EB-5 clients are motivated by their children university education and work prospects after graduation.

The primary applicant for the E-2 and L-1 visas are obviously required to work in the role they moved to the US to fulfil. Spouses of these visa holders, however, can apply for work authorization in the United States. This offers a lot more employment flexibility than the popular H-1B visa for example, since you are not tied to a particular employer. As non permanent residents, you are only taxed on your US earnings.

There are many different pros and cons to each of these visa categories. It is vital to discuss your personal circumstances with our team so we can take you through every eventuality and thereby determine the best visa for you and your family.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


EB-5 Investor Visa Reauthorization in June 2021

EB-5 Investor Visa Reauthorization in June 2021. What you need to know.




The EB-5 Regional Center program is facing reauthorization in June 2021. This has resulted in some uncertainty for current and future clients. Although we do not predict issues for people who file before June 30, there are ways to mitigate your risk:


1. If you are a D&A client, your case was recently approved and you reside outside of the US, we have already contacted the EB-5 unit at USCIS asking them to expedite the transfer of your file to the NVC so that visa processing can begin as soon as possible 

2. If your case was recently approved and you live in the US, we should file your Adjustment of Status application as soon as possible  

3. If your Form I-526 petition is still pending, you may wish to consider a Writ of Mandamus (more on this below)

Click here to learn more about the EB-5 Investor Visa
Click here to contact us to discuss your case directly

Background to Current EB-5 Situation

The EB-5 Regional Center program is currently authorized on a temporary basis.  This means that the program is authorized for a discrete period of time and then it expires unless the temporary authorization is extended.

The EB-5 RC Program is currently authorized through June 30, 2021.  This June 30 date is different than those prior authorization end dates because this is the first time that the EB-5  Program authorization is not tied in with the Federal budget appropriations bill.  In the past, when the budget bill would pass, it would mean the EB-5 RC Program would automatically be extended.  In December 2019 Congress decoupled the EB-5 RC Program authorization from the budget, so that means Congress needs to pass a separate bill to extend the EB-5 RC program.  
 
Senators Grassley and Leahy have a bill drafted that will extend the EB-5 RC Program permanently but it will need receive the approval votes of a majority of Senators to pass.  We are optimistic that it will pass in some format and thus there will be no interruption in the EB-5 RC Program.  However, until it passes, there is obviously some uncertainty on what might happen after June 30.  

USCIS has not given any clarity about what will happen (1) if there is a gap between June 30 and when a new EB-5 RC law is passed or (2) if Congress never passes a new EB-5 RC law and the EB-5 RC Program authorization permanently expires on June 30.  

Our View on Reauthorization of EB-5 RC Program

We are optimistic that in the scenario where there is a gap in time between June 30 and when a new law is passed it will not impact any EB-5 petitions that were filed prior to June 30, 2021.  There have been periods of time in the past when the federal budget did not pass in a timely manner and thus the EB-5 RC Program experienced short periods when it was unauthorized—those short periods of time when the EB-5 RC Program experienced a gap in authorization did not have any impact on the EB-5 applications that were pending with USCIS at the time.  We are also optimistic that even in the unlikely event that Congress never passes a new law that reauthorizes the EB-5 RC Program that USCIS will continue to process all EB-5 related benefits for those who had pending or approved Form I-526 petitions as of June 30.

IIUSA’s View on EB-5 RC Program Reauthorization

In the last two weeks a well-known and respected EB-5 lawyer presented IIUSA’s view on the EB-5 RC Program reauthorization. This view is that if the EB-5 Regional Center Program is not reauthorized, then anyone who is not in the United States on a “conditional green card” on June 30, 2021 will have their EB-5 application terminated and will then have to re-apply all over again (probably with fresh funds) if and when the program comes-back.

How This Impacts My Case

1.         What if I have not filed my EB-5 petition (I-526) before June 30, 2021?:

If the program is allowed to expire in June 2021, then you will be unable to obtain a U.S. green card through the EB-5 RC Program and you would have to wait to see if the EB-5 RC Program is brought back in the future.


2.         I have filed an I-526 but it is awaiting adjudication:

Although the risk may be small, under the IIUSA view your case would be terminated and you would have to make a fresh application in a new project in the future.



3.         I have an I-526 approval but I am awaiting a consular interview:

In this circumstance we believe that the risk to you is lower, although under the strict IIUSA view your case would still be terminated.
 

Writ of Mandamus

 If your Form I-526 petition is still pending, you may want to file a complaint against USCIS in Federal court as soon as possible to ask the court to issue a Writ of Mandamus (WoM) that will order USCIS to make a speedy decision on your case.  Please contact us if you would like to discuss this Writ of Mandamus option further.

While our firm has traditionally counselled clients that there is no guarantee with a WoM and that filing a WoM may in fact have no impact on their I-526 case until the I-526 filing has been pending for two years, the June 2021 reauthorization issue changes our views of the risks involved. Please note, filing a WOM requires an additional fee to be paid. 


Please note, EB-5 applications related to direct investment in a company (meaning NOT done through a Regional Center) are not impacted at all by this June 30 reauthorization date.Copyright © *2020* *Davies & Associates*, All rights reserved.


 This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.

March Visa Bulletin Analysis: EB-5 Visa Wait Times Explained

February Visa Bulletin Analysis: EB-5 Visa Wait Times Explained

The Department of State has issued its February Visa bulletin detailing the latest shifts in the Final Action Dates for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program among other employment and family-based visas.

For EB-5, the February Visa Bulletin looks much the same as the January Visa Bulletin. As in January, the only change over the previous month is a two week progression in the Final Action Dates of Vietnamese applicants from September 15, 2017 to October 1, 2017. The Final Action Date for Chinese applicants has, once again, remained static on August 15, 2015.

All other countries are listed as “C” or current. This continues to include India, which had been subjected to an EB-5 visa waiting list known as “visa retrogression” as recently as July 2020.

What this means is that there is expected to be an EB-5 visa available in the current annual quota for anyone born outside China and Vietnam. This means an applicant can progress immediately with their EB-5 application.

The reason for the waiting list is that the number of EB-5 Investor Visas available is limited to just over 700 visas per country per year. Your EB-5 quota is determined by your country of birth. So if your country of citizenship has changed since birth, your eligibility is still determined by where you were born and not where you currently live.

Priority Dates

EB-5 applicants are issued with a priority date, which is the date at which their application was received by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

For Chinese and Vietnamese applicants, if your priority date is after the date listed under your country in the visa bulletin, you must continue to wait. Eventually the date listed in the visa bulletin will move to a point at which you can proceed with your application. For example, the latest movements of two weeks in Vietnam would affect a small number of applicants who have their priority dates in a two-week window between September 15, 2017 and October 1, 2017.

The dates listed in the visa bulletin can move backwards as well as forwards. The dates are calculated upon assumptions and an averaging of current demand, success rates, and the numbers of visas per application.

For example, one application can include multiple family members each requiring their own visa. In an extreme scenario, an applicant might have a spouse and ten children. That would mean one application would take up 12 of the visas available in the annual quota.

The new administration of President Biden is looking at whether it is feasible to separate dependent family members out of the annual quotas. This would quickly make a dent in the waiting lists.

Date for Filing

The visa bulletin also contains a second set of dates called “Dates for Filing”. This is when you could submit a visa application to the National Visa Center even though there is not yet expected to be a visa available. This is partly to provide some preparation time, but is especially aimed at applicants already living in the U.S. on other visas filing an Adjustment of Status (AOS). Under such circumstances this may have an impact on the applicants ability to continue working legally in the United States.

There was not change to the Date for Filing from the previous month. People from Vietnam can progress ahead, but the date for filing for China-born applicants remains static at December 15, 2015.

Final Action Dates February Visa Bulletin

EB-3 Visa for Highly Skilled Workers

Indians are the main group affected by a waiting list for the EB-3 visa category for highly-skilled workers. The EB-3 is the immigrant (permanent residency) counterpart to the H-1B Visa. Progress remains glacial with little more than a one-week forward movement for Indians from March 22, 2010 to April 1, 2010. The only other country facing visa retrogression is China which moved from December 15, 2017 to January 1, 2018.

The long delay to Indian EB-3 is one of the reasons behind proposals by the Biden administration to remove country caps for employment-based visas. This will significantly assist Indians in the EB-3 Visa category and Chinese in the EB-5 Visa category. This would be great news for applicants who have been queuing for years, but could subject new applicants to long delays.

The annual quota system does not take account of population size. So China and India, with the world’s first and second largest populations, have the same quota as Liechtenstein and San Marino, with fewer than 40,000 inhabitants each. This, combined with a long history of emigration to America, explains why China, India and Vietnam feature so heavily in the Visa Bulletin.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


November Visa Bulletin Analysis for EB 5 Investor Visa

January Visa Bulletin Analysis for EB-5 and Employment-Based Visas


The U.S. Department of State’s January Visa bulletin shows very little change since our previous analysis. In the EB-5 immigrant investor visa category, only China and Vietnam continue to face delays. There has been no movement in the priority dates for EB-5 applicants born in China and only very slight progress for Vietnam with a revised Final Action Date of September 15, 2017.

India continues to remain “current”, meaning Indian EB-5 applicants are still no longer subject to retrogression delays. Yet, this could change. Our firm is seeing a recovery in demand following the initial “sticker shock” of the increased EB-5 investment amounts in November 2019.


Understanding Priority Dates

The date referred to in the visa bulletin is a “priority date”. This is the date that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services receives your initial EB-5 petition (form I-526).

If your country of birth is not listed in the visa bulletin or it is listed with a “C” next to it (meaning current), this means there is no waiting list for people born in your country and your application can proceed immediately.

If there is a date next to the country in which you were born, you will need to wait until your priority date becomes current. That means waiting until your priority date is before the date listed in the visa bulletin.

So this month, for EB-5 we only saw very slight movement in the Final Action Date associated with Vietnam. It moved from September 1, 2017 in the December 2020 visa bulletin to September 15, 2017 in the most recent one. This means there is expected to be a visa available to any EB-5 investor from Vietnam with a priority date in this two week window.


Final Action Date vs Dates for Filing

The visa bulletin has two tables associated with EB-5 and other employment-based visa categories. This is because they are signalling two different things to applicants.

One relates to “Final Action Dates”, which is when there is expected to be a visa available to people born in that particular country. The other table is the “Date for Filing”, which is when you can submit a visa application to the National Visa Center, even though there might not yet be a visa available. For applicants already inside the US making an “Adjustment of Status” (AOS), this may have implications for your rights to work.

The Date for Filing remains current for all countries except China. The Date for Filing for China-born applicants has not moved this month.


Final Action Dates Table

Note: EB-5 is – as the name suggests – the fifth of five employment-based immigrant visa category


Date for Filing Table

Understanding Waiting Lists

The reason some countries are subject to a waiting list is because these employment-based immigrant visa categories are subject to an annual per-country quota. In terms of EB-5 this is just over 700 visas per country per year, determined by a person’s citizenship at birth rather than any subsequent changes to citizenship.

When demand exceeds supply, countries are subject to a waiting list. Priority dates can sometimes cause confusion, especially as they can move backwards as well as forwards. This happens partly because it can be difficult to predict the exact number of people in the queue and much relies on a series of assumptions based upon past averages.

The number of applications is not equal to the number of visas / Green Cards. A single EB-5 visa application can cover not just the applicant, but a spouse, and children under the age of 21 – which means multiple visas are required for the one application.

Furthermore, it is difficult to know exactly how many people ahead of you in the queue would be denied or required to provide further evidence (RfE).

One of the main reason for a denial or demands for more evidence is poorly documented Source of Funds. To avoid this happening, it is vital to select a reputable law firm who has a strong track record in this area. Here at Davies & Associates we have never had a client rejected because of a Source of Funds issue.


Other Employment-Based Categories

For the EB-3 visa category for highly-skilled workers, every country is current except for India and China. The EB-3, which is essentially the long-term immigrant counterpart to the H-1B visa, is inevitably very popular in India. The waiting list for Indian applicants is very long and only moved forward one week from March 15, 2010 to March 22, 2010. China moved forward six weeks from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2020.

For the EB-1 visa category for extraordinary talent, researchers, and managers & executives, again India and China are the only country in retrogression. One of the reasons these two countries appears so often in this analysis is that the annual quotas do not take account of population size and are not determined on a per capita basis. China and India have the world’s largest populations as well as a long tradition of immigration to the United States.

The Final Action Dates are the same for both countries at September 1, 2019, having both moved forward by the same five month period since the last visa bulletin.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Clients Wait Out the EB-5 Queue in the USA Using E-2 Visa

D&A Clients Wait Out the EB-5 Queue in the USA Using E-2 Visa

We are delighted to have received yet another E-2 Treaty Investor Visa approval today. This time it’s for a client who already has an approved EB-5 application, but is facing a wait before an EB-5 visa becomes available. In fact, she is part of a growing trend of people looking to the E-2 visa as a means of moving to the United States faster than EB-5 allows.

The EB-5 Visa is proving fantastically popular in some quarters – especially China and Vietnam where supply is often outpacing demand. As well as India, South Korea and Taiwan where demand is fast catching up with supply.

When demand exceeds supply, that country is subject to a waiting list for EB-5.

There are normally around 700 EB-5 visas available to each country per year. The quota does not take account of population size, which partially explains why demand is so high in certain countries.

Growing demand can also be explained by the fact that the EB-5 investor visa is offers permanent residency at a lower cost than other similar nations, for example the UK starts from £2 million and Italy, which was mostly more expensive until the Italian government reduced its investment amounts over the summer in response to Covid-19.

How long are the delays?

It is hard to calculate the exact length of the delay faced by each country because they are subject to so many moving parts. We explain the delays in more detail in our analyses of the visa bulletins.

Citizens of China are subject to extremely long, multi-year delays. For Vietnam the delay is shorter but still an inconvenience. And for India there is currently no delay, but there were delays as recently as this summer. Taiwan and South Korea have never faced delays, but they are heading in that direction.

Some people opt to wait out the delays in their home country, but others are keen to get to the United States sooner. That is where the E-2 visa comes in.

The E-2 Visa has no waiting list and processing times are very fast

The EB-5 country-quota depends upon a person’s country of birth rather than their current citizenship. For example, the client approved for E-2 today was born in mainland China but is currently an Australian citizen. That means that for EB-5 purposes our client is subject to the China quota – which has a long waiting list – rather than the Australian quota which has never come anywhere close to its annual cap.

Yet that Australian citizenship has come in handy when it comes to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Because, although there are no caps or quotas for E-2, eligibility for this visa is determined by your country of citizenship.

China does not hold and E-2 Treaty Country with the United States, so its citizens are ineligible. Australia, on the other hand, has a well-established treaty that makes its citizens eligible for the E-2 visa.

Essentially, you must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country in order to qualify for an E-2 visa. This means the country in which you hold citizenship must hold a relevant Treaty with the United States. Click here to find out if your country is on the list.

Becoming eligible for the E-2 Visa

If your country is not on the list then you can become eligible through a two-step process. First you need to obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country, then you can apply for the E-2.

It sounds complicated, but in reality it is relatively simply. We have done this for a number of clients in the past. The whole process can take as little as nine months if everything runs smoothly.

Grenada and Turkey offer fast and cost-effective routes to citizenship that can provide a springboard to the E-2 Visa. Learn more about Grenada’s citizenship program here. Learn more about Turkey here.

Benefits of the E-2 Visa

So why have people bothered going to so much trouble? Well for one thing, Turkey and Grenada offer multiple benefits in their own right. But also because people get excited by the E-2 visa, which allows them to move to the United States for the purposes of owning and operating a business.

  • Investment requirements are relatively modest (no hard-and-fast rule, but usually starting from around $100,000).
  • You can start your own business or purchase a franchise
  • You can bring your spouse and children with you
  • Spouses can apply to work outside the business
  • You have freedom to travel to and from United States
  • There is no longer a requirement for a physical office space
  • The visa is renewable indefinitely – if the underlying business remains

E2 to EB-5

Unlike the EB-5 visa, the E-2 visa does not offer permanent residency. So if you close the underlying business, you would be required to leave the United States or find an alternative.

The E-2 Business Could Qualify for EB-5 if it Meets the Requirements

That is where the EB-5 comes in. There are two options for transitioning to EB-5 from E-2. Firstly, if your E-2 business has grown large enough, it may qualify as an EB-5 investment in its own right. The invested capital would need to be more than $900,000 if your business is situated in a targeted employment area ($1.8 million outside of these areas). It would also need to be able to sustain ten full-time employees.

Alternatively, you can invest in the EB-5 Regional Center program separately to your E-2 business. This removes the challenge of ensuring your business is consistently compliant with the EB-5 rules. While the Regional Center works to ensure compliance, you and your attorney should still be conducting due diligence on the Regional Center’s investment project to identify any risks to your Green Card and investment.

Case study

Our client established a New York-based company that sells well-designed, high quality, comfortable women’s clothing. It sells products online but the items will also be available in luxury department stores.  

Customers are able to order items directly from the Company’s website, Instagram, or mobile application. The Company uses engaging social media content, with a focus on building a brand through storytelling and it employs technology to create an immersive experience for clients through application of augmented reality (AR).

Our client was born in China but is currently an Australian citizen. She already has an approved EB-5 application (Form I-526), but faced a long wait for an EB-5 visa with all other Chinese-born applicants.

Chinese citizens are not eligible for the E-2 visa, but by holding Australian citizenship, she was eligible. This means the client was able to apply for an E-2 visa to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams in the United States.

Nevertheless, most of her funds came from China, which meant there were restrictions on the transfer of funds that required careful planning. Additionally, the closure of the US consulates in Melbourne delayed the interview and slowed the whole process by several months.

We wish her the best of luck in America.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Cyprus Ends Citizenship Program – What are the Alternatives?

Cyprus has announced it is closing its popular citizenship by investment program from next month, so what alternative options are available?

Under the Cyprus program, dual citizenship could be obtained within just six months in exchange for a €2 million investment on the island. Since Cyprus is a European Union member, Cypriot citizenship offered the opportunity to live and work in any one of the 27 EU member states (28 until Brexit).

Maltese Citizenship by Investment

The closure of the Cyprus program leaves Malta as the fastest route to European Union citizenship. The Maltese citizenship program requires a €650,000 donation, a €150,000 investment, as well as a commitment to reside in Malta and meet a threshold cost for the rent or purchase of a home.

EU Residency to Citizenship

The alternative European Union programs are more focused on residency by investment with the opportunity to progress to citizenship after a period of residency has been maintained. Bulgaria offers a fast transition from residency to citizenship, while the UK differs depending upon how much you invest, and for Italy it takes ten years. (More on this below)

Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program

There is a candidate for European Union membership that offers citizenship by investment for those willing to wait an undetermined period of time to become and EU citizen. Montenegro offers a time-limited citizenship by investment program that is running to the end of 2021. The Montenegro program requires a minimum €250,000 investment in Real Estate (more capital is required in economically developed parts of the country) as well as a €100,000 donation to the public coffers. Not only is Montenegro a candidate for EU membership, it is also a member of NATO.

Turkish Citizenship by Investment

Another nearby NATO member, Turkey, also offers an enticing citizenship by investment program. The Turkish program is cheaper than the Montenegro program in that it only requires a €250,000 investment in Real Estate to be maintained for three years or more. Alternatively, Turkish citizenship could be obtained by maintaining €500,000 in deposits with a Turkish bank for three years.

Access to the United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

One of the many advantages of Turkish citizenship is that it offers access to the sought-after United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. This visa allows a person to move to the US with their families for the purpose of running a business. While the primary applicant must run the business, the spouse can apply to work in the United States.

You must hold citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. Check our list to see if your country is on there. Citizens of many countries, including India, China, Vietnam, South Africa, Russia, Nigeria are not eligible for the E-2 visa. Combining an E-2 application with citizenship by investment is relatively straightforward. Click here or contact us to learn more.

Grenada Citizenship by Investment

Another country that offers access to the US E-2 Treaty investor visa is Grenada in the Caribbean. Its citizenship program is even more cost effective than the Turkish program. Investors can choose between making a donation to the government of $150,000 or making an investment in Real Estate starting from $220,000. The Grenada program has fast processing times – it can take less than two months to obtain citizenship. Grenada has a strong passport with visa free access to the UK, the EU and the People’s Republic of China.

Comparison of Citizenship by Investment Programs

United Kingdom Residency by Investment

Back to Europe, and the alternative options are to obtain residency by investment as a pathway to citizenship over the medium term. The United Kingdom, for example, offers residency in exchange for a minimum £2 million donation. Higher investment amounts reduce the amount of time before you can obtain settled status, termed indefinite leave to remain. For £2 million the time period is five years; for £5 million that is reduced to three years; and for anything upward of £10 million it requires just two years before you can apply for settled status. Twelve months after obtaining indefinitely leave to remain, a person can apply for UK citizenship.

UK Investor Visa Options

Italian Residency by Investment

Italy offers something similar to the United Kingdom. Recently, in response to Covid-19, the Italian government reduced the investment requirement for its investor visa. Italian residency by investment can be obtained in one of the four ways listed below. The investor must maintain ten years of residency before they can apply to naturalize as an Italian citizen.

at least 250.000 Euros in an innovative start-up company incorporated in Italy; 

at least 500.000 Euros in equity instruments of companies incorporated and operating in Italy; 

at least 2 million Euros in Government Bonds issued by the Italian Republic

philanthropic donations of at least 1 million Euros, in the field of culture, education, immigration, scientific research, recovery of cultural assets and landscapes

Portugal Residency Permit

Portugal offers a residency permit in exchange for an eligible investment. The permit is granted for a two year period, but can be renewed in two year instalments. After five years, the permit holder can apply for permanent residence or citizenship.

Investment options include, real estate, bank deposits, government bonds, setting up a company, and more. For real estate, the minimum requirement is €350,000 for old houses and €500,000 for newer builds. That amount is reduced in areas of low population density.

Greece Residency Permit

Greece offers residency permits for a cost-effective €250,000 investment in real estate. The permit is granted for five years and can be continuously renewed provided the underlying property ownership is maintained. Lease and timeshare options may also qualify.

United States Investor Visa

The United States EB-5 program offers a Green Card in exchange for a $900,000 investment. The applicant, a spouse, and any children under the age of 21 can be covered by a single investment. A Green Card offers permanent residency in the United States and can subsequently be converted to citizenship, provided residency conditions are met.

The investment must create and sustain ten American jobs and must be made in a Targeted Employment Area (outside of these areas the investment required doubles to $1.8 million.) While you can make and manage the investment yourself, most applicants opt invest with “Regional Centers”.

These organizations aggregate investors into new commercial ventures usually involved in construction. These job-hungry projects help ensure compliance with the requirements of the EB-5 program. While the capital is at risk, careful due diligence of the project and Regional Center will mitigate that risk.

Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list. Other countries like Spain, Ireland, St Kitts & Nevis, and Dominica all offer residency and citizenship by investment programs. The abrupt departure of the Cyprus from the industry does not end the dream of global mobility by investment. The best thing to do is to share your goals and budgets with an immigration attorney who can advise on the best option to suit you, your family, and your business.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


EB-5 Investor Visa Processing Times Fall to Four Year Low

October Visa Bulletin Analysis

By Maxine Philavong

In the first Visa Bulletin of the fiscal year, October’s Visa Bulletin showed little to no movement in the family visa category, while showing movement in the employment-based category. Although this may be disappointment for affected people looking to obtain a family-based visa, this is good news for those looking to obtain an employment-based visa.

The October Visa Bulletin is perhaps the most important visa bulletin of the year. This is the first visa bulletin of the fiscal year, meaning that the State Department released its calculations for the total number of employment-based visas available for fiscal year 2021. The anticipated number of employment-based visas is 261,500, an all-time high. Current demand for visa numbers is well below the estimated annual limit of 261,500, according to the State Department, due in large part the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just as demand for visas are down due to the current pandemic, this month’s bulletin came much later than expected due to COVID-19. Moreover, the pandemic has caused many issues moving forward in all visa categories. For example, the ongoing visa and travel bans have made interviewing and acceptance much more difficult for family-based visa seekers. Similarly, the pandemic is cause for almost 100k individuals seeking family-based visas unable to reserve interviews due to embassy closures.

However, because family-based visa seekers have been paused, employment-based visas have moved forward exponentially. The following is a quick look at movement seen in the October Visa Bulletin:

FAMILY-BASED VISAS:

There was no movement for family-based visas. However, the bulletin provided some anticipated movement in the upcoming bulletins. Potential movement includes:

F-1: Potential forward movement for up to 3 weeks

F-2A: Current

F-2B: Potential forward movement for up to 3 weeks

EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISAS:

Employment-based visa applicants saw incredible movement due to family-based visas being paused.

EB-1: All countries expect for China and India remained current. China and India advanced three months to June 1, 2018.

EB-2: All countries expect for China and India remained current. China advanced six weeks to March 1, 2016, while India advanced two months to September 1, 2009.

EB-3: All countries except India and China were current in October. Cutoff dates for China advanced four and a half months to July 1, 2017, and for India advanced three and a half months to January 15, 2010.

EB-5: For the Non-Regional Center Program, India remained current, along with all other countries except for China and Vietnam. China’s cutoff date remained on August 15, 2015, and Vietnam’s cutoff date remained at August 1, 2017. The Regional Center program was extended from September 30 to December 11, 2020.

There has never been a better time to apply for an employment-based visa, especially the EB-5 visa. Davies & Associates is one of the longest-established EB-5 law firms in the industry and our team regularly contribute to the global media on the subject. We have helped hundreds of families, business owners and entrepreneurs relocate to America and have never had a case rejected on Source of Funds, which is one of the most challenging aspects of an EB-5 application. Our success comes from blending our highly qualified lawyers with an understanding of the culture, law, business practices and banking regulations in each jurisdiction we operate.

Contact D&A for a free consultation to learn more about the EB-5 Visa Program today.