Update on the EB-5 Regional Center Program
September 2021 will come and go without a reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program, leaving over 85,000 foreign nationals in immigration limbo after investing a minimum of $500,000 into the U.S. economy. Since the program lapsed on June 30, 2021, the EB-5 Industry has made efforts to spare current EB-5 Regional Center investors the headaches that have occurred due to the cycle of short-term reauthorizations by coming to a potential agreement on reforming and extending the Regional Center Program for multiple years. Nevertheless, it appears that the U.S. Congress will seek to finalize legislation on the EB-5 Regional Center Program by December 3, 2021, the date that the federal government continues to run towards in the currently proposed “Continuing Resolution”.
USCIS has not released anymore guidance regarding the current Regional Center Program lapse, aside from what WR Immigration posted in early July. Two big unanswered questions are: (1) Will USCIS continue to adjudicate interim benefits (work and travel authorization) for pending adjustment applicants based on an approved Regional Center Form I-526, and (2) How long will USCIS continue to hold pending Regional Center Form I-526’s in abeyance without further reauthorization? We do not have the answer to the second question, and USCIS refuses to answer the first publicly. It has been noted in litigation and advocacy efforts through the American Immigration Lawyers Association that USCIS will again begin to adjudicate Form I-765s and Form I-131s for pending adjustment applicants based on an approved Regional Center Form I-526, but our firm has not yet received an adjudication in months.
Regarding the actual reauthorization of the Regional Center Program, there have been dozens of extensions in the past by USCIS. It appears the EB-5 industry is united, and its goal is to attach the new EB-5 law to a “must pass” piece of legislation like an Omnibus budget. Watching the U.S. government (or any government) work through politics is unpleasant, and it sems the mood on Capitol Hill is ugly, with Democrats and Republicans seeking more power as opposed to working together.
EB-5 investors may feel at loss on what to do, but there are some options. For those in the United States, contact your congresspeople or senators and advocate for the U.S. government to hold up their end of the bargain based on your EB-5 investment. For everyone, a new EB-5 investor-led advocacy group called American Immigrant Investor Alliance has taken the lead to protect existing investors by seeking congressional support on its Foreign Investor Fairness Protection Act (“FIFP”), which would require current applications and pending petitions be processed by USCIS on the basis of the law and regulations in place at the time they were submitted.
WR Immigration remains confident of reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program and is hoping to see meaningful reform and extension in the coming months.