EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

CU.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.ongress has passed a stopgap spending bill which will extend the EB-5 Regional Center Program through January 19, 2018 without change.  It is expected President Trump will sign the bill today, thereby averting a government shutdown. Without the stopgap spending bill, the EB-5 Program was otherwise due to expire tonight. We will be closely following activity on Capitol Hill as efforts towards EB-5 reform continue.

U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.The EB-5 Program has been extended through December 22, 2017.  The Program was extended as part of a continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government through December 22, 2017, thus preventing a government shutdown.

There are no changes to any federal programs with this two-week extension which is welcome news for EB-5 industry stakeholders.

The U.S. Congress extended the EB-5 Regional Center Program through December 8, 2017, without reform, as part of a stopgap continuing resolution to fund the federal government (H.R.601), which the President signed into law on September 8.

The language in H.R.601 Section 106 states that the program is “extended to December 8,” which does not necessarily mean “guaranteed to remain unchanged until December 8.” Congress is reportedly actively working on a major EB-5 reform bill and they could come up with legislation before December that affects multiple visa categories including EB-5.

The extension was expected after the summer recess due to other congressional priorities, like hurricane-relief, tax reform, missile defense against North Korea and other military spending, and prolonged budget negotiations. Under the package approved Friday, government funding will run out on Dec. 8. The biggest fiscal fights of the year will now be pushed to December, when lawmakers typically are under pressure to reach deals before leaving for the holidays.


Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

Ali Brodie, Counsel, Fox Rothschild LLPFox counsel Ali Brodie, who heads Fox’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Services practice, has written a piece for Law360 providing a comprehensive view of reform efforts centered on the EB-5 program. Extended to September 30, 2017, there are now bipartisan discussions to update and improve the program. Changes being discussed include reclassification of Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs), increases to minimum investment amounts, and stricter integrity and oversight measures. Lawmakers are also considering changes to the number of visas available annually, and more efficient processing to address the application backlog.

We invite you to read the full piece “Potential EB-5 Changes Ahead,” originally published by Law360 on May 16, 2017.

Today, Congress submitted a proposed omnibus spending bill to extend funding to the government through September 30, 2017.  The EB-5 Regional Center Program is included in the bill which proposes a clean extension without any of the much-debated reforms.  If approved, the EB-5 Regional Center Program will be extended through September 30, 2017, offering lawmakers and stakeholders additional time to reach a long-term legislative solution.

Today, Congress extended the EB-5 Program for 1 week through May 5, 2017.  The Program was extended as part of a continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government through May 5, 2017, thus preventing a government shutdown.  The EB-5 Program would have otherwise sunset today.  The President has until midnight tonight to sign the CR.

This is welcome news for EB-5 industry stakeholders as the program is alive for another week and allows more time for negotiations with lawmakers, with the ultimate goal of reaching a deal that would reform the program with a long-term reauthorization.

Today, January 13, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will expand upon the notice of proposed rulemaking released on January 11, 2017 by publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register, titled ‘EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization,’ addressing a variety of policy issues including Targeted Employment Area (TEA) designation and minimum investment amounts.  Notably, minimum investment amounts may increase from $500,000 to $1.35 million for TEA investments, and from $1 million to $1.8 million for non-TEA investments.

Changes to TEA designation include eliminating the method of designation by which states designate areas of high unemployment, and limiting how census tracts can be aggregated to qualify for high unemployment designation.  These regulatory changes will impact both EB-5 Regional Center projects and EB-5 Direct projects.   The deadline for stakeholders to submit comments on the proposals is April 11, 2017.  EB-5 investors or those interested in pursuing an EB-5 investment opportunity should consider acting quickly.

Ali Brodie is counsel in the Denver and Los Angeles offices of Fox Rothschild LLP.

cropped-cropped-favicon.pngFox Rothschild LLP has formalized its EB-5 Immigrant Investor Services practice, led by Scott Bettridge in Miami and Roy J. Carrasquillo in New York. The national practice boasts a multidisciplinary group of attorneys drawn from its Corporate, Immigration, Government Relations, International, Real Estate, Securities and Tax practices. The firm’s EB-5 team provides an integrated approach for clients with EB-5 matters, particularly in the areas of complex and structured financing, tax credits, bonds, immigration matters, corporate mergers, acquisitions and formation, and alternative financing. The EB-5 practice group members will continue to serve developers, individual EB-5 investors, states and municipalities, EB-5 service providers and established regional centers throughout the United States.

A draft of a Continuing Resolution (“CR”) was filed yesterday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell which would fund all current US government operations through December 9, 2016. Because last year’s Omnibus appropriations bill included the EB-5 Regional Center Program, the EB-5 Regional Center Program would be extended automatically by the passing of the CR during that period. A cloture vote on the CR is expected early next week and it is expected that the draft CR will be passed by both chambers of Congress. We will continue to monitor any new developments regarding the CR and the EB-5 Regional Center Program.


In a continuation of its effort to encourage eligible immigrants to become U.S. citizens, the Obama administration is proposing adjustments to the immigration benefit fee schedule that would raise the cost of some benefits but reduce naturalization fees for certain low-income immigrants.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its proposed changes to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fee Schedule on May 4, 2016, affecting its fees for services.  The proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register (81 FR 26904, 5/4/16) and is open for comment. Comments are due by July 5, 2016. The proposed changes are likely to go into effect this fall.

According to USCIS, it conducted a comprehensive fee review, after refining its cost accounting process, and determined that current fees do not recover the full costs of the services it provides.  Accordingly, it has stated that adjustment to the fee schedule is necessary to fully recover its costs for services and to maintain adequate service levels.  DHS proposes to increase USCIS fees by a weighted average of 21 percent and add one new fee.  In addition, DHS proposes to clarify that persons filing a benefit request may be required to appear for biometrics services or an interview and pay the biometrics services fee, and make a number of other changes.  USCIS last adjusted its fee schedule in 2010.

This chart summarizes the proposed changes.  The range of fee changes varies, for example, increasing by $45 for an application for naturalization and by $195 for an application for a fiancé visa. The rules also include a new fee of $3,035 to recover the full cost of processing the Employment Based Immigrant Visa, Fifth Preference (EB-5) Annual Certification of Regional Center, Form I-924A.  In addition, the DHS proposal would clarify that people who apply for a benefit may be required to appear for biometrics services or an interview and to pay the biometrics services fee, among other changes

Largely exempt from the increases, however, are low income immigrants who wish to become U.S. citizens.  Under the proposed rule, “DHS would charge a reduced fee of $320 for naturalization applicants with family income greater than 150 percent and not more than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.”

“DHS is proposing this change to increase access to United States citizenship,” the proposed rule explains.  The allowance effectively cuts in half the current cost of naturalization — $680, including the $85 biometric fee for these individuals while seeking an additional $45 increase in the cost of naturalization applications for those immigrants who can afford it.

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), who has been promoting naturalization and voter registration across the country as a means for immigrants to “Stand Up to Hate,” cheered the rule.  “Right now, a lot of immigrants face a difficult choice: pay $700 or so for the chance to take all the tests and apply for citizenship, or pay $450 to renew a green-card for five years,” Gutiérrez said in a statement.

“Now, the math is much better,” he continued. “You can apply for citizenship and a fee waiver and become an American citizen – with all the rights, duties and honor of citizenship – for a more attainable price or maybe even for free.  The new calculation is going to mean that millions of those who are already eligible can finally take the step and apply for citizenship.”

Applicants can apply for a fee waiver if their income is below or 150 percent of the poverty line, they are receiving a means-tested benefit, or they are experiencing “financial hardship.”

In recent years the Obama administration has put an emphasis on encouraging the estimated 8.8 million eligible legal permanent residents in the U.S. to naturalize and become citizens. Immigration activists, like Gutiérrez, have also embarked on campaigns to help immigrants naturalize and register to vote in a bid to influence the upcoming 2016 election.


Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.