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Obama’s executive action on immigration: impact on EB-5 investor visas

US President Barack Obama announced in November a number of changes as part of his ‘Executive action’ on immigration reform. Workpermit.com has summarised the main changes that may benefit those applying for the EB-5 investor visa category.

On 20th November Obama released a Presidential Memorandum on Visa Modernisation, containing guidance on visa administration. Obama has set a deadline of 120-180 days for the changes to be implemented.

One of the goals outlined by Obama is to allow entrepreneurs and their families to come to the US and work even before the EB-5 investor visa has been granted if they are inventors, researchers or founders of a business.

The President has also suggested the possibility of carrying any unused EB-5 visas from any one year, over into the next year. This would have a huge impact on the number of EB-5 visas available, especially if this was done for the past 5 years. The government would then be able to ‘recapture’ thousands of unallocated EB-5 visas. This would ensure that more visas are available to meet demand for EB-5 visas.

There is also the possibility of not counting spouses and children towards the annual EB-5 visa allocation, meaning that more visas still would also be available to applicants.

Obama also recently announced that Chinese nationals will be able to apply for visit visas valid for up to ten years which might impact on the number of EB-5 visa applications from Chinese nationals. Obviously, a visit visa is not the same as US permanent residence. Entry on a visit visa is only for up to 6 months at a time. In addition, the visit visa will not necessarily be granted for the full ten years. Unlike the EB-5 a visit visa does not allow you to live and work in the US on a permanent basis.

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EB-5 Program Update:

The EB-5 Program has lapsed. The US Congress is discussing the legislation that authorizes the program while USCIS reviews the regulations and policies for filing. Because of the recent court ruling that reversed the 2019 Modernization regulations, the investment level has shifted temporarily from $900,000 back to $500,000.

If the program is reauthorized before the regulations are updated, there may be another window of opportunity to file at $500,000.

LCR expects the program to be reauthorized before October 1, and continues to work with international families that want to explore alternative residency options.

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