March 23, 2018 – Early Friday U.S. Congress passed, and President Trump later signed, an extension to the EB-5 regional center program through September 30, 2018 as part of the Omnibus budget package. Although Congress was expected to make changes to the program it has been extended in its current form, giving investors more time to invest at the current minimum investment amount of $500,000.
Two weeks ago Congress surprised the EB-5 world with the release of potential changes to the program that would have drastically altered the program as it has existed since the early 90’s. These changes would have put a four month pause on the program and called for an increase in the minimum investment to $925,000. These potential changes caused panic in the EB-5 market, bringing a flood of investors in for the March 23 deadline.
The latest extension of the program by Congress has brought a sigh of relief for investors who were unable to get their applications in by the deadline, but there remain reasons not to waste time. There are still potential changes that USCIS could make that would increase the investment amount from the current $500,000 all the way up to $1,350,000. Although there is no certainty when or if they will make that change, it could come at any time between now and the end of September. With this potential for an increase in the minimum investment, investors are encouraged to move as quickly as possible with their application to make sure they can continue to take advantage of the relatively low investment amount for such a popular program.
The potential increase in the investment minimum mentioned above was announced in early 2017 through a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). The fall 2017 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions published by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) listed a final action date of February 2018 for the new EB-5 regulations. Because that February date has already passed, many stakeholders believe the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was waiting to see if legislation would be passed before releasing their regulations and they could now come at any time.