EB-5 Visa: What Is It and How Might It Change?

Last Updated on March 2, 2023

Immigration seems to be a featured story in almost every news cycle. Recently, the EB-5 visa has been making headlines, especially in relation to the Kushner Companies use of this visa. We’ve put together a quick overview of what an EB-5 visa is and what potential changes might be coming down the line, either from Congress or via Executive Order.

What Is an EB-5 Visa?

The EB-5, also known as the Immigrant Investor Program, is a type of visa often utilized by entrepreneurs. Under this type of visa, allows investors, their spouses, and their unmarried children to apply for permanent residence if they meet two criteria. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stipulates that anyone applying under the EB-5 program must “make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.”

As with almost everything involving immigration, there are additional requirements and regulations involved. The full list of requirements involved for investments and job creation under the EB-5 visa can be found at the USCIS website here.

What Potential Changes Might the EB-5 Visa Face?

While the EB-5 visa is a small portion within the legal residence program (according to USCIS data, in 2015, out of just over 1,000,000 new legal permanent residents, about 10,000 were granted as part of an EB-5 visa). With the additional news coverage of the EB-5 visa, there have been some speculation on potential changes the EB-5 program.

In a recent NPR interview, Steve Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell University outlined four main ideas for reform: more oversight, the option to restrict this type of visa from being used in regions that aren’t distressed or urban centers, increasing the investment amount from the $500,000 that was the minimum when this type of visa was introduced in the 1990s, and setting aside this type of visa for use in rural areas.

Whether these or any changes will be made to the EB-5 visa is still complete speculation, but Congress did officially fund the EB-5 program through September 30, 2017. We will continue to keep an eye on policy updates to EB-5 visas, and we will alert our clients to any changes.

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