The USCIS published proposed rule changes for the first time in the Federal Register. This was back in January of 2017. Final regulations passed June 27, 2019. They have been released to USCIS for final publication, the last step before these new regulations become governing law.
The minimum investment amount of $500,000 in a TEA:
Increase to a minimum investment of $1.35 million in a TEA.
The minimum investment amount of $1 million outside of a TEA:
Increase to a minimum investment of $1.8 million outside of a TEA.
TEAs are now limited to the census tract the EB-5 project is located in and any neighboring census tracts, provided the weighted average unemployment level is at least 150% of the national average.
Rural TEAs remain defined as “outside of an MSA” and “outside of any city or town with a population of 20,000 or more.”
States no longer retain the authority to determine TEA boundaries. This now falls solely to USCIS. Among several confusing provisions, priority date retention by certain investors whose I-526 petitions were approved, but whose projects experienced a material change, failure or fraud, or whose regional center is terminated, due to circumstances not created by the investors.
We do not know when final regulation will be published. We do not know whether it will provide the normally required 30-day grace period prior to going into effect. We do not know whether they will immediately or retroactively impact pending petitions.
Retroactive application seems unlikely due to what would surely be a flood of litigation.
There will be an increase. EB-5 attorneys’ stiff and vocal opposition to the $1.35 and $1.8 million minimum investment amounts may result in USCIS adopting an amount somewhere between the current minimum investment amounts and the proposed higher thresholds.
The TEA definition will narrow. We hope states retain the authority to designate TEAs. Entrusting this to USCIS, we believe, no matter how well meaning, will result in further delays, backlogs and potentially other unintended consequences.
WHAT WE CAN DO NOW:
Act. We will use the time between now and when regulations take effect to sign up new investors, transfer their funds and file I-526 petitions.
Investors have the same limited time to invest at the current levels. We encourage they do so. This window could close in as soon as a few days or as late as a few months. No one expects it to remain open any longer than that.
GreenAccess works efficiently and expeditiously to help investors capitalize on this limited time opportunity to secure the current minimum investment amounts. As more information becomes available, we will update you and provide any suggested or mandatory next steps.