On Oct. 4, 2021,United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its EB-5 website and issued an alert regarding the current lapse of the EB-5 Regional Center Program. The Regional Center Program has been lapsed since June 30, 2021, when Congress did not timely reauthorize it. USCIS confirmed on its website several important points for applications after June 30, 2021:
- USCIS will not accept a new Form I-526 Petition filed by an EB-5 investor based on a Regional Center investment until Congress reauthorizes the Program.
- USCIS will not accept a new Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Residence (the form used by immigrants with an approved I-526 to apply for the two-year green card in the United States), filed by an EB-5 investor and their family members until Congress reauthorizes the Program.
- For any Form I-526 Petition and I-485 Application pending as of June 30, 2021, USCIS will continue to hold these applications until at least Dec. 31, 2021. At that time, USCIS will reevaluate the practice of holding these cases in abeyance based on the progress of legislation before the U.S. Congress.
- USCIS will continue to adjudicate Form I-829 Petitions for those investors filing to remove the conditions on the two-year green card. EB-5 investors can continue to file Form I-829, and USCIS will continue to adjudicate these petitions.
At present, various Regional Center Program stakeholders have agreed upon terms to reauthorize and extend the EB-5 Regional Center Program. While no text of the legislation is available at this time, the proposed legislation would extend the program for several years, increase the minimum investment amounts to account for some inflation for newly filed cases, “grandfather” and protect existing EB-5 investors from subsequent law changes, and create a framework for Regional Center administration/oversight and investor protections.
It appears that USCIS is monitoring the status of prospective legislation, as it confirmed on the website that it will hold cases until at least Dec. 31, 2021, and at that time, it will reevaluate whether to continue to hold these cases if no Regional Center legislation is passed. Moreover, there is additional proposed legislation to protect EB-5 investors who previously filed cases on or before June 30, 2021. If a significant period of time passes beyond Dec. 31, 2021, and no Program reauthorization is proposed by Congress, then USCIS potentially could deny pending I-526 Petitions. However, at this time, it appears that a bill will be attached to the U.S. Budget Bill to be taken up by Congress in December.
SW Law Group will keep you updated with any further details about this matter.