Written by: Taher Kameli, Esq.
The EB-5 investment program has been a popular vehicle for foreigners to obtain green cards, and permanent lawful residency status, in the United States. As the EB-5 program creates jobs in the United States, it represents a form of immigration that is believed to be favored by President Trump. In fact, the family of President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, has been directly involved in EB-5 projects.
Currently, the amount of capital contribution to invest in an EB-5 project is either $500,000 or $1,000,000. The $500,000 amount is applicable to EB-5 projects in “targeted employment areas” (generally rural areas and areas with high levels of unemployment), so-called “TEA’s”. EB-5 investments in TEA’s have become the most common type of EB-5 project. The $1,000,000 investment amount is applicable to EB-5 projects not in TEA’s.
As these $500,000 and $1,000,000 capital contribution amounts have never been increased since they were first established into law over 20 years ago, there are calls now to increase these amounts. The argument for increasing these EB-5 amounts is that the $500,000 and $1,000,000 amounts do not reflect the effect of inflation from their enactment into law through year 2019. Certain legislation in Congress has proposed increasing the EB-5 capital contribution amounts to a “TEA” amount of $925,000, and a “non-TEA” amount of $1,025,000. The USCIS, the government agency that administers the EB-5 program, has proposed increasing the EB-5 capital contribution amounts to a “TEA” amount of $1,350,000 and a “non-TEA” amount of $1,800,000.
It is believed that these higher capital contribution amounts will be applied only prospectively, and not retroactively. In other words, if an EB-5 investor in a TEA project filed a green card application with a capital contribution of $500,000, and while the green card application was pending the USCIS issued an increase in the “TEA” amount to $1,350,000, the EB-5 investor should not be required to make an additional capital contribution of $850,000. In this case, the EB-5 investor would be “grandfathered” under the old law provision of $500,000.
While an increase in EB-5 capital contribution amounts is likely to occur at some point in the future, no one can predict with certainty when such change will occur. Thus, for families contemplating an EB-5 investment, the prudent approach is to act now and file a current green card application and be “grandfathered” under existing law before the higher EB-5 capital contribution amounts will apply. As shown in the case in the prior paragraph, acting quickly in that example would save the EB-5 investor $850,000.
The Law Offices of Kameli and Associates has many success stories of helping foreign investors obtain US green cards under the EB-5 program. For more information on our EB-5 and other immigration services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-233-1000.