$500,000 Direct EB-5: Fact vs. Fiction

By Jose E. Latour, Esq. – Founder of LatourLaw, P.A.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa has had a lot of ups and downs during its three decades of existence, but June 2021 will go down in history as one of EB-5’s most chaotic and confusing months: first, on June 22, a Federal Judge of the U.S. District Court in California threw out the 2019 EB-5 law that increased the TEA/non-TEA EB-5 investment thresholds from $500,000/$1M to $900,000/$1.8M respectively. Then, on June 30, after last minute talks in the Senate failed, the EB-5 Regional Center Program expired. A few days after that, the USCIS issued a public notice advising that:

  • Until further notice, the $500,000 TEA/$1M non-TEA investment thresholds were the law
  • The still-unclarified federal TEA rules were cancelled and TEA determinations were again made at the state level and
  • Since the Regional Center program had expired on June 30th, the USCIS would only be receiving and processing NEW DIRECT EB-5 applications.

If it’s fair to say that the 2019 law and increased investment requirements effectively put the EB-5 program in a coma, then June’s events functioned like a defibrillator, kickstarting EB-5 in a big way: as Suzanne Lazicki noted in her blog yesterday, “more I-526 [petitions] were filed in the last week in June 2021 than in the entire previous year and half.” That’s nothing less than astonishing, and a barometer of the pent-up demand for EB-5 which has been building subsequent to the price hikes and COVID.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the barrage of online marketing promising $500,000 EB-5 Investor Visas in July, especially in the Vietnam and China markets. Given the historically misleading marketing efforts of many in the EB-5 industry, I thought this might be a good time to separate the facts from the fiction.

Let’s begin with the FACTS:

  • The EB-5 Immigrant Investor category became law under the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT90). The category was originally intended only for direct investors creating 10 new full time jobs in the US via their investment. As such, Direct EB-5 is a permanent part of U.S. immigration law.
  • A few years later, the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program was created, permitting USCIS-approved EB-5 Regional Centers to collectively pool EB-5 investor funds to make larger investments and count not only the direct jobs created, but the indirect and economically-induced jobs.
  • But the RC program was established as a PILOT – meaning a “trial” – program. Accordingly, over the past two decades, the RC program has expired and been reinstated time and again. On June 30th, 2021, the RC program AGAIN expired, and while we in the industry are optimistic that it will be reauthorized soon, no one knows exactly when that will be.

So, despite all the hype you’ve read online, this is what we know FOR SURE about the opportunity to invest in EB-5 TODAY at the $500,000 level:

  1. The USCIS has confirmed that, for the moment, the TEA investment amount for EB-5 is $500,000;
  2. The TEA definition falls back on the states, not the federal government;
  3. Only “Direct” EB-5 investors can take advantage of this temporary situation.

These are factors which we DO NOT KNOW and which can adversely affect this window of opportunity for $500,000 EB-5 investment:

  1. On July 30, 2021, the Federal Register published a ratification of the 2019 law which had been filed by DHS head Mayorkas on March 30, 2021 – months before the Federal judge struck the law down. Does this ratification mean that the 2019 law was effectively reinstated on July 30th, eliminating the $500,000 opportunity? Or does the $500,000 opportunity remain until the USCIS publicly announces otherwise?
  2. Although the USCIS stated that based on the Federal Court decision TEA determinations are again in the hands of the states, most states have no idea of the legal change, having stopped making TEA determinations in 2019. How can a Direct EB-5 project proceed today if it is new and located in a state which has not resumed issuing TEA findings?

The variables are many…so the urgency in filing a Direct EB-5 at the $500,000 as soon as possible makes perfect sense. For many years, the vast majority of EB-5 investment has been via Regional Center projects, which effectively entrust the job creation requirements to the U.S. job creating partners. With Direct EB-5, your investment is in the hands of….precisely WHO? The reality is that virtually all of the Direct EB-5 programs on the market today are being promoted by agents who are eager to collect their commission…and the investor has zero knowledge of who will be investing their money and how.

LatourLaw has been filing Direct EB-5s since 1992, assisting investors from all over the world in making intelligent EB-5 investment decisions and forging strategic alliances with vetted U.S. operating partners with proven success history. By partnering our Direct EB-5 investors with established U.S. business operators, LatourLaw Direct EB-5 investors receive administrative support not only through investment but through the ENTIRE EB-5 process.

Direct EB-5 at $500,000 is a smart move…IF AND ONLY IF you choose your EB-5 investment wisely. LatourLaw has been assisting foreign investors make strategic immigration investments for over 30 years. If you are ready to act NOW to take advantage of the temporary $500,000 EB-5 opportunity, LatourLaw is collaborating with one of America’s leading franchisors (60+ year history) to offer direct EB-5 investor slots to accredited investors able to satisfy “source of funds” requirements. Please contact our Miami or Ho Chi Minh City offices for further information.