Investor Visa Application

EB5 Visa Remains at $500,000 as US Government Appeals

The minimum investment level for the EB-5 visa remains at $500,000 for now, but the appeal is a clear signal the Biden administration is intent on increasing the price.

The US government filed a last-minute appeal against a federal court ruling that reversed Trump-era changes to the EB-5 Visa investment thresholds. A federal judge in California ruled in June that a decision to increase the minimum investment level from $500,000 to $900,000 in November 2019 was unlawful because the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had been improperly appointed. The Biden administration is now seeking to appeal her ruling and reinstate the changes.

The ruling saw the EB-5 investment level fall back to $500,000 in June for a short window before the Regional Center program expired at the end of that month. This resulted in a flurry of applications as people piled in to obtain Green Cards by investment for themselves and their families. While the EB-5 Regional Center route is on hold, Direct EB-5 remains open and accepting applicants the $500,000 investment amount.

Increasing the Minimum Investment for EB-5 Visa

The timeline on the appeals process is not clear. It could be done quickly, but is more likely to take many months. The appeal does underscore the Biden administration’s commitment to a higher EB-5 investment level than the current minimum threshold of $500,000. If the appeal process is successful, that would mean a return to $900,000 minimum investment level inside a Targeted Employment Area ($1.8 million outside these areas). The alternative is to go through the US Congress to change the rules for the EB-5 program and agree new investment thresholds.

There was a bipartisan attempt to reform and reauthorize the EB-5 Regional Center program before it expired. However, this failed when a single senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, opposed passing the bill following an eleventh hour attempt to pass it by Unanimous Consent. Senator Graham is not opposed to EB-5, but wanted more discussion on what a reformed investor-visa program should look like.

Congress and the EB-5 Program

Congress will need to revisit EB-5 after its summer recess. There could still be another attempt at bespoke reform for EB-5, but the packed legislative agenda may mean that it is folded back into spending legislation due at the end of September. Any reform package would seek to bring greater integrity to the program, may review the differential between TEA investment and non-TEA investment, and, critically for of investors, it may also amend the investment thresholds.

The increase to a $900,000 minimum investment has resulted in a drop in applications since it has pushed EB-5 outside of the reaches of the global middle class who have been the backbone of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program since its inception in the 1990s. The US program is more affordable than many comparable citizenship or residency by investment programs worldwide – for example, the UK Tier One Investor Visa starts from £2 million (and is a visa that Davies & Associates can also assist you with).

The onset of the Covid pandemic soon after the price increase has also served to dampen demand, so it is tricky to draw conclusive trends based upon the 2020 EB-5 filing data.

A more modest increase in the minimum investment threshold to $700,000 or $750,000 could be a real possibility according to industry insiders. This would raise more revenue while keeping the EB-5 program within reach of more people. Such a change would require legislative approval.

Watch a recording of our most recent webinar where we delve deeply into this image and examine the potential reform and reauthorization of the Regional Center program.

Watch our recent webinar on the future of the EB-5 Regional Center Program

Next steps for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program

The good news is that EB-5 enjoys the backing of politicians from both main political parties. EB-5 brings in billions of dollars of investment and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs at no cost to the taxpayer. The EB-5 program played a vital role in bringing foreign direct investment to the United States amid the financial crisis in 2008 and EB-5 can serve in a similar manner as America emerges from Covid-19.

We cannot take any stance of the likelihood of success on the appeal, but it is a clear sign that the Biden administration intends to increase the investment minimum. But just filing the appeal does not have any immediate impact.  The investment amount remains at $500,000 until and unless they get a favorable appellate decision (or until they go through the rule change process properly). So, Direct EB-5 remains open to new applicants at the $500,000 limit, as would the Regional Center program – if and when it is reinstated. We will keep everyone updated as events unfold.


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.


Investor Visa Application

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.


Investor Visa Application

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.

Business Immigration from the UK to the USA

Political headwinds have left entrepreneurs and business owners looking for more effective ways to trade. Namely, moving to the source and setting up a business in America.

The United Kingdom is America’s seventh largest trading partner with imports from the UK totalling $125 billion and exports to the UK exceeding $147 billion in 2019.

While bilateral trade grew to an all time high before the pandemic, Trump administration policies have been making things harder for certain sectors. A trade dispute with the European Union over subsidies to Airbus resulted in tariffs being imposed on a number of British products. The Scotch whisky industry, for example, was hit by a 25% tariff on its exports to the US market.

Things should start changing as a result of Brexit and the inauguration of President Biden, but there has not yet been any hurry to remove these tariffs on the US side. Moreover, continued uncertainty around the future of trade and globalization has left many business leaders asking how they can do things differently to hedge against future instability.

As a result, we have seen an increase in the number of people coming to our firm to discuss business immigration options. Not just from Great Britain, but from across the European Union – from Germany, France, the Netherlands and beyond.

There is increased interest in business expansion to the United States, as well as with people wishing to set-up new enterprises. The good news is that, being a land of commerce, the U.S. has multiple options for just such people.

The L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa

The L-1A Visa allows a manager or executive level employee to move from the British office to the US office of the same company. More than 10,000 L-1 visas were issued to Brits in 2010. Many of them work at large multinationals and move between established offices.

Yet, the L-1 can also be used to set-up and grow a new office in America. Businesses who do not yet have a presence in America can set one up and then transfer a senior-level employee to manage the business on an L-1 visa. D&A’s L-1 Visa can take care of the company formation as well as the immigration work.

The L-1 is a time limited, non-immigrant visa. British people are granted an initial visa of up to a maximum of 60 months (five years). New office L-1s are granted for a much shorter period so the authorities can monitor the progress for the business. Yet, these visas can be renewed – up to a maximum of seven years for an L-1A visa. There is also an L-1B route for people in the company with “specialized knowledge”. This is limited to a maximum of five years. To remain in the United States for longer, an L-1 visa beneficiary must switch to a different visa. The EB-1C and EB-3 visas offer permanent residency and fit well with the L-1 visa.

Click here to visit our UK L-1 Visa Page

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

The E-2 Visa allows a person to move to the United States to operate a business. To qualify for the E-2 visa, a person must be a citizen of a country that holds a relevant treaty with the United States. The United Kingdom holds the oldest such treaty, dating back more than 200 years.

Click here to visit our UK E-2 Visa webpage

Eligibility is determined by citizenship, so if you were born outside the UK and subsequently became a British citizen, you would still eligible. This contrasts favorably with U.S. family-based and employment-based immigrant visa categories, where eligibility is determined by your country of birth.

There is no stipulated investment amount, but it must be credible to support the business plan. Generally speaking, it should be upwards of around $100,000.

Unlike the L-1, the E-2 visa can be renewed indefinitely provided the underlying business continues to trade and meets its targets. The maximum length of time an E-2 visa can be issued for is five years, at which point a renewal is required.

Family of both L-1 and E-2 visa holders can move from the UK to the US with the primary applicant. That includes a spouse and any children under the age of 21. Spouses can apply to work in the United States and often clients arrange their E-2 visa around the spouse’s career ambitions.

Visit our UK E2 Visa Center

EB-5 Visa

To have true freedom to work in the United States (and indeed study or retire), permanent residency is the best course of action. One of the fastest routes to a Green Card for UK nationals is the EB-5 Investor Visa. It offers a quick path to a Green Card for a $900,000 investment. This is cheaper than the UK’s own investor visa program, which starts from £2 million and increases in value if you wish to reduce the time period before your wish to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

The number of EB-5 visas available to each country each year is just over 700. The United Kingdom is not close to using up its quota, so there is no oversubscription or waiting list for UK EB-5. However, your EB-5 quota depends upon your country of birth. So, for example, an Indian-born British citizen would count under India’s quota. Given India’s population size and the popularity of the United States as a destination, India is often close to its annual cap.

Davies & Associates is one of the most well established EB-5 law firms in India. We have helped many Indian families successfully apply for their EB-5 visas and have been consistently quoted on the subject in the Indian media. Our Russian speaking lawyers and paralegals are also well placed to help the Russian community in the UK with their US immigration goals.

UK Solutions for Americans

Trade cuts both ways and Americans are inevitably also interested in UK visas. The United Kingdom is still gearing up its post-Brexit immigration system, but there are plenty of opportunities for American business owners and entrepreneurs. There is a UK intracompany transfer visa, which is similar to the L-1 Visa. There is a Sole Representative Visa, which has some similarities to the new office type of L-1 visa. The UK also has a start-up and innovator visas designed to attract innovative, scalable and viable technologies to the United Kingdom.

Davies & Associates is uniquely placed to help Brits looking to move to America and vice versa. Our chairman and founder is a Brit who migrated to America many years ago. Our core teams sit in New York, Chicago and London. Contact us today 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.