On December 3, 2021, President Biden signed a short-term funding bill to avert a shutdown of the United States federal government. While industry experts and insiders had anticipated that the reauthorization of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program would occur on December 3, 2021 as part of a comprehensive government spending bill, Democrats and Republicans were once again at an impasse and as a consequence, the EB-5 program remains suspended for the time being. It is possible that the reauthorization of the EB-5 program will be delayed until early 2022 as the Continuing Resolution signed by President Biden provides funding for the U.S. federal government until February 18, 2022.
The EB-5 program, which is the golden visa equivalent for investment immigration to the United States, remains one of the most popular programs for GCC nationals and residents seeking to immigrate to the U.S. The EB-5 program is a fast tracked option for foreign investors to obtain U.S. residency and Green Cards. With an investment of $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise in the United States, foreign nationals can obtain the U.S. Green Card for themselves and their dependent family members, including spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. For each investor, the $500,000 investment must create a minimum of 10 jobs for U.S. persons to satisfy the job creation requirements of the program and to stimulate the U.S. economy.
The EB-5 Regional Center program was created by Congress in 1992 and is the preferred route for EB-5 investors as they can take advantage of a passive investment but still avail the benefits of the EB-5 program in obtaining a Green Card. In December 2020, the EB-5 Regional Center program was detached from the annual appropriations bill in an effort to spark discussions about changes to the program. With Congress failing to reach a consensus on the future of the EB-5 Regional Center program by June 30, 2021, the program lapsed and continues to remain suspended. EB-5 industry stakeholders have continued to work on a new EB-5 bill which has introduced positive reforms to the program. It is expected that the EB-5 bill will soon be attached to an appropriations bill and the EB-5 Regional Center program will once again be reauthorized.
Many residents of the United Arab Emirates and neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries had been impatiently waiting for the resumption of the EB-5 program to file their applications in anticipation of a December rush. While the EB-5 program remains suspended, families interested in participating in the EB-5 program can begin the preparation of their applications to be at an advantage once the program is reauthorized. “Given the uncertainty as to when the program will be reauthorized, the best route at the moment is to be prepared,” says Shai Zamanian, Legal Director of The American Legal Center, the top EB-5 immigration consultancy in the GCC region with their head offices in Dubai. “We are continuing to monitor the situation and discussing the future of the EB-5 program with lobbyists in Washington, DC and will continue to update the GCC market about the latest news,” says Zamanian.
The news of the reauthorization of the EB-5 program not being attached to the Continuing Resolution signed by President Biden on December 3, 2021 is a disappointing outcome for EB-5 stakeholders, including families with pending petitions and families looking to file their applications. That said, the current consensus among EB-5 industry leaders is that the EB-5 Regional Center program will be reauthorized latest by early 2022. It is expected that the new EB-5 bill will be either attached to a Continuing Resolution or a comprehensive appropriations bill to be passed in February 2022.