What will Congress do with the soon to expire EB-5 regional center program?
That is the question that most everyone in the EB-5 world is asking each other. Congress chose on September 30th of this year to “kick the proverbial can down the road” until December 11, 2015 with an interim extension of the current legislation. As of the date of the writing of this blog Congress has before it several bills that seek to extend the EB-5 Pilot Program.
The possible changes on the horizon include increasing the minimum investment amount to $800,000.00 for TEA’s and $1,200,000.00 for other areas. Since there has been no change in the capital contribution amount since the creation of the program, most think this amendment will proceed.
The other change that would be controversial would modify the definition of a targeted employment area. The TEA’s would be limited and potentially not include state designations based on aggregated census tracts. This could eliminate many TEA’s.
In addition, it is anticipated that the regional centers will come under greater scrutiny by USCIS. This could include more comprehensive and frequent reporting requirements, as well as the ability of the agency to suspend regional center designation for those centers that do not fulfill reporting requirements or have little or no business activity.
Congress will also examine whether regional center principals can be non-resident aliens. Most regional centers currently are owned by U.S. Citizens or lawful permanent residents. There are many non-resident aliens that are interested in creating regional centers and developing projects, especially in South Florida.
Developers, as well as investors are rushing to complete exemplars for projects and file individual I-526 immigrant visa petitions in order to “grandfather” their projects and/or investor applications under the present statutory requirements. It is noteworthy however, that no one is certain that “grandfathering” will be part of the final legislation. Will this all be for naught?
What we can be sure of are that changes to the EB-5 regional center program will occur before the end of the year. The changes to the program will hopefully make it better. The program will survive.