The EB-5 Regional Center Program survived another sunset date in the 11th hour.

After passing both the House and the Senate, Continuing Resolution (H.R. 8337), was signed by the President on Oct. 1 and became law. H.R. 8337 funds the government and extends certain immigration programs, including the Regional Center Program, through December 11, 2020. This will be the 18th time the program has been extended since 2015.

The EB-5 program could be key for the economy as it seeks to recover from the devastation of the COVID 19 pandemic because it was designed to encourage foreign investment that generates domestic jobs. According to IIUSA, the not-for profit industry trade association for EB-5 Regional Centers and professionals, the EB-5 Program helped generate $20.6 billion in foreign direct investment to create and retain jobs for Americans between 2008 and 2015, all at no cost to United States taxpayers.

“Another short-term reauthorization is of course welcome, but now is the time we need to establish certainty with long term reauthorization so the program can truly flourish,” said Jill Jones, JTC Americas’ General Counsel and former member of the IIUSA board of directors.

“The guidance from the CDC and WHO requiring businesses to shut down or operate in limited capacities to curb the spread of COVID-19 has upended entire industries. A long-term reauthorization of the EB-5 Program would encourage new projects to come to the market and convince leery investors to participate. Such an incentive could actually stimulate job growth in the face of pandemic-related job loss.”

According to the October 2020 Visa Bulletin, a tremendous underutilization of visas authorized for FY2020 means that there will be far more employment-based visas available for FY2021. In fact, employment-based visas have historically been capped at 140,000 per year. It is estimated that number will increase to 261,500 visas for the employment category, and 18,567 of those will be reserved for EB-5 applicants and their dependents.

This increase in available visas means that the wait time for retrogressed Chinese EB-5 investors could shrink from the 16 years predicted just last year to as short as 6 to 8 years, and that the current backlog of EB-5 investors, primarily those from China and India, awaiting visas could be substantially reduced.

In an interview with Greencard by Investment, immigration lawyer Bernard Wolfsdorf says that the “spillover” of family-based visas to EB-5 this year combined with the reduced investor activity due to higher investment amounts will mean far more visas for China applicants.

Wolfsdorf also shared that most countries will not use their full 7.1% allocation of the available visas and those “leftover” EB-5 visas will be made available to the petitioners who have been waiting the longest. This will effectively create “the best ever year for China visa issuance.”

To show your support for the EB-5 program and its continued success, we encourage you to reach out to your Congressional representative and ask for their backing for a long term or permanent reauthorization of the program.

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