EB-5 visa: Bipartisan Bill to reform EB-5 visa program introduced in US Congress

A bipartisan Bill that seeks to reform the EB-5 investor programme was introduced in the US Congress last week before it lapses end-June.

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2021, introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (Republican) and Patrick Leahy (Democrat), calls for the reform and reauthorisation of the EB-5 Regional Centres programme for a period of five years.

In the last few years, Indians have emerged as prominent investors under this provision, which provides a direct path to US Citizenship for people investing a certain sum in dedicated projects in specified areas.

The demand for EB-5 visas has risen 400% between 2016 and 2019 among Indians, according to Invest in USA (IIUSA), a not-for-profit trade association.

“Many of these Indian nationals have been in the United States for a long time on non-immigrant visas like the H1-B or L1A and…the EB-5 Green Card provides immigration certainty to them and their families…,” said Aaron Grau, executive director, IIUSA, which endorsed the Bill.

“The bipartisan bill…supports the long-term reauthorization and reform of the EB-5 Regional Center Program, which in turn will ease Indian investors’ anxiety of this visa program being cancelled,” Grau said.

According to data from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Indian nationals were issued over 300 EB-5 visas in FY20, the second highest after Chinese nationals.

While the direct EB-5 programme has been permanently authorised, this Bill is about continuing with the EB-5 Regional Centre programme, said Mark Davies, global chairman, Davies & Associates, an immigration firm.

This is the route used by nearly 90% of investors.

Davies expects the Bill to be passed by Congress, though there may be a small interruption in the EB-5 RC Program.

“Obviously, no new EB-5 RC cases would be able to be filed while the program lapsed, but Direct EB-5 cases would continue to be filed. While it is certainly possible that existing Regional Center EB-5 Applicants will be negatively impacted, my personal belief is that it is incredibly unlikely that the US government would adopt that approach,” he said.

Since inception, the EB-5 programme has drawn in capital investment of more than $41 billion from across the globe to support American businesses and has created at least 820,000 job opportunities for US workers.


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