December 13th, 2015 4:35 PM by Nour Ailan
The EB-5 visa
program, which is enormously popular with developers but criticized by
some lawmakers as an unfair express route to U.S. citizenship for the
wealthy, just got a five-day reprieve.
Renewal of the program –
which awards a U.S. green card to foreigners who invest $500,000 into
the U.S. economy – was part of a short-term spending bill approved by
the House of Representatives Friday. The bill, approved by the Senate on Thursday, will keep the government running through Dec. 16while lawmakers negotiate the $1.15 trillion budget, of which EB-5 is a small component.
EB-5 program, which offers 10,000 U.S. visas annually and has been
dominated by Chinese investors in recent years, was initially up for
renewal in September, when lawmakers passed a stopgap measure to keep
the government operating through Dec. 11.
In recent months, lawmakers have been considering various changes
to the program, such as raising the minimum investment amount.
Currently, investors are required to invest $1 million or a discounted
amount of $500,000 in “targeted employment areas,” or zones designated
as having high unemployment. Other changes could place restrictions on
The EB-5 legislation currently contains 40 pages
of changes, according to Ron Klasko, a managing partner at Klasko
Immigration Law Partners.
For New York developers, proposed
changes to TEAs are particularly worrisome since many of them have taken
advantage of the discounted investment amount by creating special
districts linking their projects to low-income neighborhoods.
the point of view of New York developers, almost all of them have, in
the past, qualified for the $500,000 reduced investment amount of the
TEAs,”Klasko said. “Many of them will not qualify for that under this
new law, meaning investors would have to invest $1 million. That’s an
The legislation would also allot a certain number of visas
to different investment categories, such as 2,000 visas for projects in
rural areas and 2,000 visas for people who invest $1 million.
have been long waiting lists for investors in China when they were
competing for 10,000 visas,”Klasko said. “Now many of them for the New
York projects will be competing for 4,000 visas.”
chance the bill will not pass, he said, since it’s part of the
government’s omnibus bill. Meanwhile, developers and investors are
sitting tight. “Until we have the final law,” said Klasko, “There won’t
be a lot of activity.”