Preeya Malik, MD, Step Global

Investors have been anxiously awaiting since the reauthorisation of the United States EB-5 Regional Center Program in March 2022 to be able to apply for a green card through investment in a Regional Center project under the EB-5 scheme. Under the EB-5 Regional Center program, applicants can invest $800,000 in US based projects to obtain a green card for the investor, the investor’s spouse, and any children under the age of 21 at the time the application is submitted.

Since reauthorisation in March, two lawsuits were filed by various Regional Centers and joined by EB-5 industry organization IIUSA, claiming that USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) was misinterpreting the new regulations outlined in March by deauthorising all Regional Centers. Due to delays caused by litigation, most projects have not yet been able to officially file investor applications. Although the process has been delayed, there has been no shortage of investors waiting for places in the most coveted projects which will soon come to market.

On August 24, 2022 a settlement agreement was finally reached between USCIS and EB-5 Regional Centers that will better provide guidance in the path forward as the program officially reopens.

In the settlement, USCIS rescinds its deauthorisation of previously approved Regional Centers. Regional Centers are administrative bodies approved by the US government to regulate projects under the EB-5 programme. Now, Regional Centers are being given additional time until December 29, 2022 to pay the associated $18,000 filing fee and file forms in order to comply with new licensing regulations and to be able to continue to sponsor projects and take in new EB-5 investors. They need not wait for adjudication of the submitted forms to take in new investors but rather only proof of filing is required.

Regional Centers will still be required to file a project pre-approval or “exemplar” for each new project they are sponsoring, prior to accepting new EB-5 investors. They will have to wait 10 days post filing before they can take in new investors.

The effect of the settlement reached, is that EB-5 investors can finally file their green card applications immediately.

EB-5 now a safer option for investors

The main point for the reauthorisation of the EB-5 Program was to implement important regulatory changes which have been on the horizon for many years and which also address some of the key issues stakeholders and investors alike had with the EB-5 Regional Center Program. One such element of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 was the introduction of measures to reduce the risk of fraud and increase investor security by holding Regional Centers, consultants, lawyers, and other EB-5 participants accountable to USCIS.

This is being done through the requirement of annual audits, a higher level of transparency and background checks for key players within Regional Centers, and various registrations of new projects.

All of these elements combined mean that EB-5 investors can now participate in the program with a greater sense of security than any time since the inception of the program in 1993.

Early access to the US

Taking into consideration the processing times of green card applications generally over the past few years, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act will now allow for quicker entry into the United States for those EB-5 applicants who are eligible through an Adjustment of Status (AOS) concurrent filing.

Investors who have submitted their I-526E (initial EB-5 application) can now also do a concurrent filing for Adjustment of Status at any time during the processing of their green card application. Previously, the AOS filing could only be done after an individual received an approval on their I-526 which created a longer timeline for entry into the United States.

For those who already hold various US visas, this concurrent filing is a game changer. Once a concurrent filing is done, an applicant then waits for as short as four months until they receive both an Employment Authorization Document, which gives them the right to legally work in the US and a travel document which allows them to travel freely outside of the United States.

Leading EB-5 firm in the UAE

Those who would like to participate in the new EB-5 program with a set of arguably better protections for investors, can get in touch with Step Global Group. As the leading EB-5 firm in the UAE, Step Global currently has projects available in all categories to suit each and every individual investor. Step Global’s vast legal and EB-5 network allows them to provide not only expert service but also exclusive projects including those where they have successfully received approvals on expedited requests for many clients.

Step Global’s lawyers are happy to sit down with you to properly put a plan in place for your individual EB-5 journey. Under the aegis of Preeya Malik, who herself is a US lawyer specialised in the US immigration statutory framework, Step Global has a 100 per cent track record of approvals, with over 12+ years of experience in the EB-5 industry, making it well positioned to provide clients with the expertise necessary for success.