Recent proposals for increasing the minimum investment amount for the U.S. EB-5 visa from the current $500,000 and $1,000,000 amounts for TEA and non-TEA projects, respectively, have been the subject of much debate. Proposed legislation by Senators Grassley or Cornyn would raise the minimum investment amounts to $800,000 and $1,000,000, or $800,000 and $925,000, while the proposal from the Department of Homeland Security would raise them to $1,350,000 and $1,800,000. The proposals stem mainly from the perceived need to adjust the investment amount for inflation, as the current amounts have not been adjusted since the program’s inception, some 28 years ago. It should also be noted that all of the proposals above impose such high hurdles to qualify for the lower TEA amount that in effect the higher investment amounts above seem as a practical matter more likely to become the market standard.
It is widely known that India has become a major EB-5 investor market in recent years, as EB-5 is becoming an increasingly popular option for Indian nationals who seek permanent residence in the United States; the fact that there has been a growing number of high-net-worth individuals in India clearly helps to stimulate this demand.
U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs has published the February 2019 Visa Bulletin (View PDF). The EB-5 Regional Center category has been listed as “U” meaning unauthorized for issuance.
The US Department of State has published Report of the Visa Office 2018 Table V Part 3, which gives a tally of visas (conditional green cards) issued by country for the Employment Fifth preference (EB-5) in FY2018. The major story in the FY2018 report is the increase in EB-5 visas issued to applicants born outside of mainland China.
Is EB-5 still a choice? Can it be a good option today for project companies or prospective immigrants? The answer: yes, though it’s complicated. In 2018, we felt the sting of legislative, regulatory, and policy uncertainty, and the pressure of limited visa numbers and associated wait times. Limited visas mean that EB-5 is no longer a good choice for the ones who used it most in recent years: China-born immigrants and mega-projects.