Future of EB-5 Program

Henderson Le, The Prime Group Inc.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, passed by Congress and signed May 7, extends the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program through September 30, 2017. There are two key bills that have been presented on the Senate floor. One is the Grassley Bill, mainly contributed by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the other bill was proposed by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas). The two bills represent key differences in the rural/urban interests.

The first point of difference lays on the actual definition of the TEA. The Grassley Bill promotes a very restrictive approach. It only includes existing census tract and pushes for federal regulations on TEA appointments. The Cornyn Bill is more expansive in its TEA definition and designation. The Cornyn Bill also promotes to exclude derivatives, thus increasing the effective visa count by almost three times.

The minimum amount of investment is being hugely discussed as well. Both bills initially agree to a minimum of $800,000 investment for TEA and $1,000,000 for non-TEA. Nevertheless, recently, Grassley has proposed to fully adopt the proposed regulations proposed by DHS under President Obama that would create a minimum threshold to $1,350,000 for TEA, $1,800,000 for non-TEAs.

Grandfathering will be highly likely for all cases that filed I-526 petitions prior to the passage of the bill. Nevertheless, Grassley bill has not mentioned anything about grandfathering for projects, while Cornyn bill allows a certain period of phase in.

Source: Arnstein & Lehr LLP – Ronald R. Fieldstone