The US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has just announced an increase in the standard minimum investment amount to $1.8 million from $1 million. For high unemployment areas, the amount has been increased to $900,000 from $500,000. This marks the first revision in the programme after 1993 and USCIS said it was done to account for inflation. Under the programme — designed to encourage job creation in the US — those investing these amounts become eligible for green cards.
“The new EB-5 changes will affect investors from India in a variety of ways. First, I predict a surge of EB-5 petition filings until November 21. After that, I expect a sharp decline in EB-5 petitions,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School.
Yale-Loehr said the new rule also makes it harder for projects to qualify as being in high unemployment areas. That means that most new EB-5 projects will be offered at $1.8 million, not $900,000. “That will make it
even harder for most Indian investors. India is already backlogged several years for EB-5. That, combined with the price increase, will deter many Indian investors from applying for EB-5 visas after November,” he said.
Mark Davies, global chairman of immigration law firm Davies & Associates, said Indians considering submitting an EB-5 application ahead of the price increase need to be aware that proving the source of their funds takes an average of two months, which effectively reduces the amount of time available for applicants wishing to lock in the current rate.
EB-5 visas have an annual cap of 10,000, with a per country annual cap of 700. India is already at those limits. Brennen McConnell, partner at Paragon Partners Asia, noted that the US House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would increase the per country quota from 700 to 1,500. “This bill received strong bipartisan support and was passed by a wide margin. The bill is now under review in the Senate, but the fact that it has received such strong bipartisan support bodes well for its potential to become law,” he said.