By EB-5 Attorney Shae Armstrong
One of the main motivators for foreign nationals investing in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is to obtain expedited immigration to the United States. Many foreign nationals wait over a decade to obtain a green card and move their families to the United States for more mainstream visa categories. Since there are only 10,000 EB-5 visas available each year, per country limits are set. On August 23rd, 2015, Chinese retrogression was announced by the Department of State meaning that the Chinese demand for EB-5 visas had exceeded the fixed number of visas available to the People’s Republic of China, thus, EB-5 visas for Chinese nationals weren’t available for the remainder of the 2015 fiscal year ending on September 30th. At this time, the State Department forecasted that due to the immense volume of Chinese EB-5 petitions that the EB-5 category would most likely retrogress to a priority date of around the summer of 2013.
Approximately 15.5 Months
Presently, the USCIS website evidences that the adjudication processing time for an I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur is approximately 15.5 months, and additionally, the foreign national investor can expect a subsequent wait time of 6 months for consular processing before he may enter the United States. Some estimates suggest that presently over 2,000 EB-5 immigrant investments are being executed per month which actually equates to 6,000 EB-5 visas considering the eligible family members assuming a spouse and one child. Hence, current immigrant investors from China may wait have to wait over 5 years before entering the United States via this program when factoring in adjudication and retrogressions timelines. At some point, the increasing delays for Chinese immigrating via the EB-5 program will dilute the program’s expedited immigration benefit. The good news for non-Chinese immigrant investors is that EB-5 retrogression does not exist for any other country.
$200 Million Raised For Particular Projects
In places such as lower Manhattan, there are frequent $200 million plus EB-5 raises for particular projects. A $200 million EB-5 raise equates to 400 immigrant investments at the $500,000 Targeted Employment Area investment level. (Under EB-5 rules, foreign nationals can obtain U.S. green cards by investing $500,000 in job-creating projects located in Targeted Employment Areas plagued by high jobless rates which are at least one and half times the national average, and if the project is not in a Targeted Employment Area, the EB-5 investor must invest at least $1 million.) When you assume that a family of three from China is seeking 3 visas for their $500,000 investment, a $200 million EB-5 raise consumes approximately 1200 EB-5 visas which further calculates to a single project taking up 12% of the annual EB-5 visa allotment. As you can imagine, the EB-5 program is being quickly monopolized by the most affluent urban U.S. centers such as Manhattan due to the sheer size of its deals. Despite opposition from Senator Schumer of New York, recent bi-partisan reform efforts have attempted to provide greater geographic diversity for EB-5 capital within the U.S. by encouraging real job creation effects and a more conservative definition of a Targeted Employment Area.