As Congress continues working on updating the legislation, authorization for the Regional Center program that focuses on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has been extended through December 21, 2018.
The EB-5 program is a permanent program written into law in 1990. The Regional Center program, however, was introduced in 1992 and relied on temporary, periodic reauthorization ever since.
For the Regional Center program to continue, Congress has to pass legislation that reauthorizes the program either temporarily or permanently.
Any part of the EB-5 program is susceptible to change. For example, Congress can increase or decrease the number of available visas or give the Department of Homeland Security more discretionary power over the EB-5 administration process.
Similarly, USCIS can issue new regulations and policies to interpret and apply existing statutes to help guide the job of USCIS officers. Currently, two proposed bills could change the EB-5 program. One is to raise the minimum investment amount for targeted employment areas (TEA) from $500,000 to $1.35 million and increase the $1 million investment amount to $1.8 million. The second proposal is a regulation directed toward the processes and administration of Regional Centers.
In the unlikely event that there is a complete overhaul of the regional center program, it is not clear what would happen to the investors who have already demonstrated their investment in a suitable EB-5 project (I-526) and are in the process of having their permanent residency conditions removed (I-829).
Should the Regional Center program lose authorization, people who have already filed their I-526 form could be affected.
Under the current policy, when a Regional Center is terminated, the process for people waiting on a green card is also terminated. But the policy does not address what happens when the entire Regional Center program is scrapped.
Unless Congress moves to end the entire EB-5 program, direct EB-5 investment could continue without reauthorization even if the Regional Center program is not reauthorized. However, raising the investment amounts and/or changing TEA definitions would affect both direct EB-5 and Regional Center investments.