Why does Congress continue to give temporary extensions to the EB-5 program?

EB-5 extended until April 28, 2017

EB-5 Visa Extension

Many prospective investors keep asking why has the U.S. Congress been giving short, temporary extensions to the EB-5 program and when is the minimum investment amount increase?

The EB-5 Visa Regional Center Program for Investors was established in 1992 as a temporary program. Since that time the Congress has been renewing the program every three (3) years for a period of another three (3) years (except for one time when the program was allowed to expire before being renewed after a significant break).

On September 30, 2015 the program was once again up for renewal in Congress. However, this time, a lot of debate broke out about implementing changes to the program before another renewal. Some of the hotly debated issues are:

  • Increasing the minimum investment amount to $800,000+ from the current $500,000
  • Restricting areas that are considered Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs)
    • Currently almost any area can receive a designation of a TEA (including high net worth spots like Manhattan and Miami Beach), allowing investors to contribute the minimum investment amount of $500,000, instead of the $1,000,000
  • Increasing the amount of visas allocated to the program (currently there are only 10,000 visas available each year)

Multiple legislative proposals were presented, but neither received majority support. While lobbyists, Congressmen, and Senators continue to debate over the changes they want to implement, it was mutually agreed to temporarily extend the program to avoid interruptions for ongoing projects and investor petitions. While the debates over the proposed new EB-5 bills are continuing, the Congress continues to give the EB-5 Program short-term extensions.

The last EB-5 Visa Program extension was just approved on Friday, December 9, 2016, renewing the program “as-is” until April 28, 2017. Now that the new administration has been decided, industry professionals expect that Congress will come to an agreement on a new EB-5 bill in year 2017. Although it is still unclear what the new TEA rules will be, one thing seems to be certain: the minimum investment amount will likely be increased to $800,000+. Once a majority consensus is reached on other elements of the bill, the program is expected to receive a long-term extension as before (about three (3) years) or even be made permanent.

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