Shai Zamanian, Director, American Legal Center Image Credit: Supplied

As the pandemic continues to take a toll on the region and emerging markets, many families have been seeking access to the West to carve out multi-generational opportunities and safety for their children. With the global health crisis and the unpredictability of other variables such as global warming, there is now a greater emphasis on gaining access to the United States.

The EB-5 immigrant investor programme provides families with unrestricted access to the U.S., to resources, business opportunities, medical facilities, and highly sought after educational institutions. Under the programme, investors and their immediate family members are eligible to obtain a U.S. Green Card, and ultimately a U.S. passport by making an investment into a government-approved commercial enterprise.

While the programme currently requires an investment of $900,000, there is a great chance the investment amount will be lowered to $500,000 with payment plans available. The groundbreaking Behring case in the Federal Courts of the U.S. is seeking a reversal of the EB-5 modernisation rule of 2019, which raised the investment amount, and hopes to bring back the investment amount to $500,0000. This case along with other pending cases are attempting to unravel the Trump administration’s negative stance on immigration policy.

With the Biden administration, there has been an emphasis on both openness to immigrants by removing the infamous Trump Muslim Ban, along with new measures to speed up application processing times.

During the last few months, EB-5 industry leaders have been on the edge of their seats waiting for the U.S. Federal Courts to issue their ruling on the reduction of the required capital investment. In the last hearing on May 13, 2021, presiding judge, Judge Corley agreed with Behring Regional Center by stating that the issue was that the wrong person took the position of the secretary. As the then-acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which instituted the price increase regulations lacked the capacity to do so, we would need to go back to the rules that were previously in place, which would allow a lower investment amount of $500,000.

A verdict in favour of the Behring Regional Center would bring a reduction to the capital investment and return it back to $500,000. The reality is that under the current $900,000 rule the programme has failed to generate the same number of investors as in previous years, not for lack of potential investors, but because at $900,000, the programme is simply unreachable for most. The then-acting official failed to adequately account for the adverse economic impact this rule would have on the programme.

A reduction in the required investment amount would lead to an influx of applicants, which could certainly mark 2021 as the year with the highest number of applications. Since the last court proceedings, The American Legal Center, a team of U.S. licensed lawyers based out of their offices in Dubai, have been inundated with calls from potential investors eager to apply after the judge’s final ruling is announced.

Furthermore, a reduction of the capital investment will result in a surge of applications, which could subsequently lead to a delay for investors if they wait to file their applications many months down the line while other applicants submit their applications prior to them since the program is based on a queue system.

Apart from the reduction in capital investment, this is the right time for migrants to relocate to the U.S.. The Biden administration has continuously indicated that it is a priority to ensure that immigration policies are revised for the benefit of immigrants.

Shai Zamanian, Director, The American Legal Center in Dubai, says, “However, an analysis of the vigour in which the government has been fighting to keep the programme at $900,000 leads many to believe that the investment capital will not be $500,000 for long. It is possible that after a few weeks of the programme being at $500,000, it will either go back to $900,000 or increase to keep up with the inflation rate.”

It is evident with government attempts to ratify the 2019 rule that they want to retain the programme at $900,000 and thus this is a clear indication that there will be a limited window of opportunity available for applicants.

“For families thinking about the U.S. seriously, to perhaps send their children to schools there, or set up a plan for the future, right now is the time to act. It is better to catch the deal at $500,000, as opposed to having to invest $900,000 at some later time,” says Zamanian.

The EB-5 programme is designed to be holistically beneficial for both the investor and the U.S. government. The American Legal Center has been working on assisting families in the GCC to obtain their U.S. Green Cards through this programme for nearly a decade from its offices in Downtown Dubai.