Last week’s announcement from President Trump to suspend parts of the U.S. immigration system has raised a series of questions for potential immigrant investors. While the initial announcement indicated it was a broad ban, further explanation indicates it does not apply to all immigration to the United States. For EB-5 investors, this is good news.
At this time, EB-5 immigration visas are unchanged. Anyone who wishes to qualify for lawful permanent residency through the EB-5 program is still eligible to do so. The changes made to the three-decade-old program made in November of last year changing the dollar amount and other definitions of a Targeted Economic Area are still in effect and unchanged by the most recent extension of the immigration ban by the White House.
Here Is What We Know
The Executive Order issued by the President of the United States regarding an immigration ban shall not apply to “any alien applying for a visa to enter the United States pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.” Because this situation is unprecedented, it is impossible to predict what changes will be made to the EB-5 program and immigration as a whole for the United States over the course of the next year. However, we do know the U.S. government is committed to supporting our economic recovery, and qualified real estate developments will be a key component of that plan.
A recent study using IIUSA’s EB-5 Regional Center project data underscored that the EB-5 Program is a national jobs development program accounting for roughly six percent of all private-sector job growth in U.S. over the two-year study period. The study found that “a total of $10.98 billion in capital investment was made through the Regional Center program during FY2014 and FY2015.” That total represented “approximately 2 percent of all foreign direct investment (FDI) net flows to U.S. economy over the two-year period. A total of $7.07 billion, or nearly two-thirds, of the projects’ capital investment made through regional centers during FY2014 and FY2015 was in the construction sector.”
“EB-5 Program is a national jobs development program accounting for roughly six percent of all private-sector job growth in U.S.”
The study also showed that this level of capital investment supported more than 355,200 total jobs with roughly 100,000 new job opportunities falling into the “economically direct” category, and another 250,000 net new jobs falling into the economically indirect category.
The Houston EB5 Regional Center has invested more than $125 million across the Texas economy and created 5,710 new jobs over the last five years. Our current project, The Residences at the Allen, will create 1,731 jobs during Phase 1 alone and increase Houston MSA labor income by $128.8 million.
Why Now Is a Great Time to Apply
Prior to the recent Executive Order, President Trump hinted publicly that he would consider changes to the EB-5 requirements as part of an economic recovery plan, although details remain vague if, how, or when this will happen.
As the situation currently stands, USCIS plans to begin reopening their offices on June 4, 2020, unless mandatory public closures are extended further. The good thing is that the USCIS EB-5 office remains working through the USCIS office closures. The office closures are for those that require walk-in appointments, which the USCIS EB-5 office does not. In the past, USCIS former Director L. Francis Cissna has expressed that office closures would allow them to allocate more resources on working through the extensive backlog of applications.
As Chief Operating Officer & Managing Director of Texas-based regional center Houston EB5, Acho Azuike sees this as an advantage for those in the application process.
“Now is an excellent time for investors to evaluate their opportunities and start the application process.”
“If this is the case during the closure,” Azuike says, “it could potentially result in faster processing times once things return to normal. Now is an excellent time for investors to evaluate their opportunities and start the application process. When the economy and travel reopen around the world, secure investment opportunities will be in high demand globally.”
Since an EB-5 investor’s application goes straight to USCIS in Washington D.C., investors based outside of the U.S. should keep in mind they will not need to go to the U.S. consulate after their I-526 petition approval. The current or continued closures of consular offices in your home country will not have an immediate impact on the I-526 stage of the application process.
“From my perspective, if they have the funds and are ready to move forward, now would be the time to do that to set themselves up to take advantage of immigrating to the U.S.”
Immigration attorney Christian Triantaphyllis of Jackson Walker, who frequently advises clients from outside the U.S. on successfully immigrating, agreed. “From my perspective,” Triantaphyllis says, “if they have the funds and are ready to move forward, now would be the time to do that to set themselves up to take advantage of immigrating to the U.S.”
For someone who files today, by the time that case gets adjudicated and approved a couple of years down the line, our U.S. embassies and consulates across the world are likely to have reopened. At that point, EB-5 investors who act now will be ready to go in, get their visa, and enter the United States.
Long-Term Optimism for the U.S. Going Forward
One fact that is important to consider is how the current situation of COVID-19 is not just a national pandemic, it’s a global pandemic.
“In the long run, as the coronavirus spreads into other nations,” says Triantaphyllis, “internationals will actually begin to look favorably on the U.S. as a place where we have infrastructure, education, and governmental support.”
Triantaphyllis predicts other countries that have a lag time of being infected won’t be as well-equipped to handle a problem like coronavirus. As a result, they will have to look to more developed countries as an option with the U.S. being at the top of their list.
“In the end, this will likely help encourage investors to move forward with investment immigration,” Triantaphyllis says.
Why Houston EB-5?
With one of the best infrastructures in the United States, Houston, Texas provides its residents with a thriving economy and better cost of living compared to similar American locations such as New York City or Chicago. The projects with which Houston EB5 has partnered have not experienced any delays due to COVID-19, and active investment spots are being filled daily.
Acho Azuike agrees that now is the best possible time to make a safe and secure investment in order to be queued for U.S. residency.
“Houston EB5 has extensive experience in navigating the current regulations to find the right solution for investors and their families,” Azuike says.
“Our success rate is overwhelming. There’s no reason to wait without getting started.”
Considering the range of investment opportunities available through Houston EB5, the next few weeks would be an ideal opportunity to explore investment opportunities currently available and move forward with the application process.
Ready to begin the process of becoming an EB-5 investor? Learn if you are eligible by completing this short form.