USA restart issuing EB‑5 business visas for investments through regional centers
The restart of the Regional Centers program implies new rules for investors. The minimum investment amount for an EB‑5 visa will increase by $300,000. There will also be a mandatory contribution to the state fund, and a visa will be issued according to a quota depending on the type of a business project.
Find out what is known about the changes and when they will come into force.
The EB-5 business visa is an immigrant visa: it is obtained by investors who want to move to live and do business in the United States. If an investor spends more than 183 days a year in the United States, in a year and nine months he can get a green card, and after another three years — American citizenship.
To obtain an EB‑5 visa, an applicant invests in a new or existing US company. It can be done on your own or through a regional center, which is a special organization that promotes the development of the economy of a particular state.
The option with regional centers is more popular among investors. In this case, the applicant invests in an already approved business project. At the same time, the investor is not obliged to create a certain number of jobs and actively participate in the management of the company. He also receives passive income from 0.25 to 2% per annum.
The operating conditions of regional centers are reviewed every five years. The last program ended on June 30th, 2021.
On March 10th, 2022, the US Congress passed a new Appropriation Bill, which involves the reopening of regional centers and the issuance of EB‑5 visas.
US President Joe Biden signed the bill on Saturday, March 12. This means that the new EB-5 visa rules will come into effect in 60 days, in May 2022.
May 12th, 2022
The Regional Centers Program has been extended for another five years and will remain in effect under the terms and conditions adopted until September 30th, 2027.
How much and what to invest in order to get an EB‑5 visa under the new rules
The amount of investment depends on the region in which the business project is supposed to be implemented. The US government is interested in the development of rural areas, areas with high unemployment and underdeveloped infrastructure. Therefore, the investment threshold for projects in such areas is lower.
Starting in 2022, the minimum amount of investment in companies in rural areas and regions with high unemployment will increase by $300,000. For other projects, the threshold will increase by $50,000.
Investments for EB-5 Visa through regional centers
Amount until March 12th, 2022
Amount after March 12th, 2022
Business projects for the development of infrastructure and companies in rural areas and target employment areas (TEAs)
Creation of a new or development of an existing business in any other region
The set EB‑5 visa investment amount will be valid until January 1st, 2027. It will then be reviewed and updated every five years. For projects in ordinary regions it will depend on the growth of the Consumer Price Index. The investment threshold for projects in rural and target areas will be increased by 60% of the investment sum for ordinary regions.
New fee for investors and visa quota distribution
A fee in the amount of $1,000 is now charged to all EB-5 visa applicants. The funds from contributions are transferred to a specially created state Integrity Fund.
The EB‑5 business visa quota is 7,1% of the total number of E-type visas. The USA normally issues no more than 10,000 EB‑5 visas per year, however in 2021, the number of quota places has doubled.
From 2022, a third of EB‑5 visas are distributed depending on the type of business project for investment:
20% of visas will be issued to investors who develop a business in rural areas of the United States;
10% of visas are for those who invest in regions with high unemployment rates (TEAs);
2% of visas are allocated to applicants with investments in government infrastructure development projects.
If not all visas allocated for a particular category are issued during the financial year, the remaining visas are added to the quota places for the next financial year. If the quota is not used the next year, unused places for visas will be redistributed to all categories.
Priority processing of visa applications
The EB‑5 visa application process for investors will remain the same. The applicant completes the I‑526 or I‑485 petition form and submits it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.
Review of the petition usually takes from 12 to 18 months. However as of 2022, priority is given to applications with investments to business projects in rural areas of the United States.
If an investor does not need to obtain a temporary green card, they can now apply for an EB-5 visa and permanent residence in the United States at the same time.
If the investor has met the conditions for permanent residence while his visa application was pending, he can apply for a permanent residence permit instead of the initial temporary one.
The investor will also be able to apply for a permanent green card even if the program, regional center or investment project is closed before the expiration of the prescribed two years after receiving the EB‑5 visa.
E‑2 business visa as an alternative for investors with second citizenship
The E-2 nonimmigrant visa is suitable for investors who do not plan to live in the US permanently. But it is suitable for doing business, studying and free entry to the States.
Investors get an E‑2 visa for developing a new or existing business, similarly to EB‑5 visa. However, the conditions for an E‑2 visa are softer.
Conditions for receiving EB-5 and E-2 visas
Minimal amount of investment
In practice, it is enough to invest from $100,000, e.g. to buy a franchise business
Creation of jobs
The E‑2 visa is issued for five years, after which it can be extended for two years an unlimited number of times. If an investor wants to obtain US citizenship, he first applies for a visa requalification into an immigrant visa, and then for a green card.
But there is a nuance: only citizens of countries with which the United States has concluded an agreement on trade and navigation can obtain an E‑2 visa. In 2022, such agreements are in force with 80 states.
Grenada, Turkey and Montenegro have an agreement with the United States and issue passports for investment in the economy.
Grenada citizenship can be obtained through a contribution to the state fund or the purchase of real estate. Turkey provides citizenship for a purchase of real estate or bonds, a deposit in a bank or investment in a business. To become a citizen of Montenegro, you need to fulfill two investment conditions: make a contribution to the state fund and finance tourism real estate projects.
Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent who helps to obtain a second citizenship by investment. If you would like to have a second passport to do business in the United States, please contact our investment program experts for advice.