Review of 2018 Changes to EB-5
2018 was an interesting, and not altogether positive, year for the EB-5 program. Frequent political battles impeded the creation of a long term extension for the Regional Center program, wait times for Vietnam and India continued to increase and the program continued to be largely unusable for Chinese citizens (unless they are willing to wait over a decade to receive their visa). With all of these obstacles to program success, many potential investors worry that EB-5 may not be a viable solution to their goals.
However, there are still some cases where EB-5 is an attractive solution for investors looking to immigrate to the United States. For potential investors from countries with no backlog, or investors who have no problem waiting for a few years, EB-5 still provides a relatively clear path to US immigration.
With the New Year getting off to a start, I will be writing a few articles in February to discuss key developments in EB-5 from the past year, and to try to help readers understand how these changes may affect the program in 2019 and beyond. In this article, I will cover changes that affect China, India and Vietnam. I will then cover the Regional Center Program and more general EB-5 news in 2 future posts.
Wait times and utilization
2018 saw meaningful changes for applications from 3 of the currently most important countries for EB-5: China, India and Vietnam.
China’s EB-5 backlog has been growing for years as the program has gained more and more investors from China. At this point, with the wait time for Chinese citizens well over 15 years, many potential investors from China have disregarded EB-5 as a potential path to US immigration.
Now with Vietnam getting a cut off date for the first time and India appearing to approach the point where it will see wait times, we may start to see investors from those countries moving away from EB-5. There still does seem to be India some potential demand growth coming from India as we saw more I-526 petitions submitted from India in 2018 than were submitted in 2017. EB-5 applications from Vietnam seemed to begin slowing in 2018, and we may well see continued drops in volume as wait times continue to increase in 2019.
With these changes hitting 3 high volume countries, we can only hope that 2019 will bring some changes that will accelerate other countries or help to alleviate some of the pressure seen in China, India and Vietnam.
If you are interested in pursuing a US Green Card through the EB-5 program, we strongly advise the employment of an experienced immigration lawyer to guide you through the oft-changing regulatory environment. Mark Ivener is an EB-5 expert with over 40 years’ business and investor immigration law experience.