Abhinav Lohia, Director of NY-based CanAm Investor Services, tells the American Bazaar everything about the EB-5 investment visa.
The EB5 investment visa program also known as the Golden Visa program is designed to allow foreign investors to get a green card with a minimum investment of $500,000 to create jobs in the US.
However, the program is facing an unusual political situation this year. The US Congress is required to regularly “reauthorize” the program. But pressed for time politicians often aggregate different issues into one large bill and pass them together.
EB-5 is usually reauthorized in this way. However, last year it was decided that EB-5 would only get a six-month extension rather than the full year.
That essentially detaches EB-5 from the package of other legislation. And it means Congress will have to debate the program independently for the first time.
It has been extended through June 30, 2021, but it must be “reauthorized” to continue after that date.
A reauthorized program might require new regulations and a revised public comment period. That administrative process will provide an opportunity to voice remaining concerns, as additional visa numbers, removal of derivative visas, elongated waiting period and other improvements, provided that the program has been reauthorized with the proposed integrity reforms.
Read: A window opens to get EB-5 visa with lower investment (June 23, 2021)
However, if the reauthorization is not passed by June 30, it is uncertain what will follow. Either there could be a temporary pause of the program or it could be discontinued permanently.
For business and parent investors, the period until June 30 is extremely crucial as there isn’t a 100 percent guarantee on what is to follow.
Abhinav Lohia, Director, South Asia and the Middle East Davies & Associates, LLC and CanAm Enterprises answers everything about the EB-5 visa program.
1. What does the EB-5 reauthorization mean?
The Regional Centre EB-5 Visa Program is set to expire on June 30, 2021. It will only exist post June 30 if it is reauthorized, i.e the US Congress passes a bill to renew the EB-5 Program.
2. How does the EB-5 visa help Indian immigrants in the US?
For many Indian immigrants in the US, the EB-5 visa Program has been a lifeline. A lot of them have lived and worked in the US for decades, yet their existence in the country is always in jeopardy without a green card.
The majority of Indian immigrants arrive in the US on a student visa, then change to work visa like H-1B visa. A person with an H-1B visa is reliant on their employer in order to live and work in the US.
They are also exposed to a shift in the government’s stance towards international employees. Since the advent of Covid-19, many Indian born H-1B Visa holders were unable to visit India if a family member became ill for fear of being unable to return.
Those who took the risk of visiting India were stranded in the country for months since they couldn’t get their visas stamped to return to the US because the US Consulates in India were closed.
Other categories of employment-based green cards have been oversubscribed by Indians, resulting in wait lengths of more than 50 years in some situations.
On the other side, an EB-5 visa might be issued in as little as two years. Employer sponsorship is no longer required if a person obtains a green card.
They can work for anyone or start their own business. They can travel outside of the US without worrying about getting stranded. In other words, Indian employees and students can live their normal lives.
Read: Bill to reform EB5 investor visa program in US Congress (April 7, 2021)
3. What are the pros and cons for new investors and what is the best way out of the current conundrum?
The best way out of the current bind, in my opinion, is to file an application before June 30.
An agreement also needs to be reached with Regional Centers that the funds will not be used in the project until the EB-5 Visa Program is reauthorized, and that the funds would be returned to investors if the Program expires.
This will benefit investors by ensuring that they are in line to receive a green card, but their capital will be protected if the program expires.
4. What would a permanent / temporary lapse of the program mean for Investors?
If the program is temporarily suspended, the USCIS may refuse to accept new applications until it is reauthorized, or it may accept new applications but hold them in limbo.
USCIS will not accept any new EB-5 applications after June 30, 2021 if the program is permanently terminated.
5. What does this mean for people who have already commenced the application process?
People who have previously filed an application will, in our opinion, be grandfathered, meaning that future changes to the program will not affect their application, and they will be processed under the laws in effect at the time of filing.
Read: EB-5 VISA: Indians will have to pay $50,000 more for US investor visa from April 1 (Feb 29, 2020)