DHS Requests Congress to Modify EB5 Immigrant Investor Program04 Jun 2015
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has asked Congress to make changes to the employment-based, fifth preference (EB5) immigrant investor program. The goal of this request, which was made by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, is to better protect against fraud and to address various security concerns in the EB5 program.
EB5 Investor Program
The EB5 investor visa is a path toward permanent residence (i.e. a ‘green card’), aimed at garnering foreign entrepreneurial investments. The basic requirements include an at-risk investment of at least $1 million (or $500,000 in targeted employment areas). A final grant of permanent residence is contingent on demonstration of the creation of at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers. More information about the EB5 program, and some of the problems identified in this category, is available in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, EB5 Investor Program Criticism by Office of Inspector General (02.Jan.2014).
Suggestion for Higher Investment Levels
Secretary Johnson has asked Congress to increase the $1 million and $500,000 investment amounts. He noted that the required investment is unchanged from the time the EB5 program was established in 1992, and suggested that the investment amount be tied to inflation.
Increased Authority Over Regional Centers
Regional centers are a key component of the EB5 program. These centers are approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and allow pooled investments in large, often multifaceted projects. The requirements for job creation are more flexible, as is the need for direct, day-to-day involvement in the investment enterprise. Thus, the overwhelming majority of EB5 cases are filed through regional centers.
The DHS has already implemented changes to the EB5 program to help prevent improper outside influences on government officials. Now, Congress is being asked to grant the DHS increased authority to penalize regional centers, including the ability to terminate a regional center’s designation based upon suspected criminal activity and/or security concerns. Under the current law, once granted, a regional center is entitled to keep this designation unless the USCIS determines that the center is not promoting economic growth.
The EB5 program has been reauthorized repeatedly since its inception in 1992, but the DHS believes that changes are needed to ensure the integrity of the program. MurthyDotCom will post updated details if and when any such changes are implemented. Foreign investors interested in pursuing a green card through the EB5 program are encouraged to schedule a consultation with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.
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