On March 18, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the suspension of all in-person services at application support centers, field offices, as well as asylum offices.
The temporary closure has been extended to June 4. The justification is to support the slowdown of the COVID-19 virus. Services that are mission-essential are still taking place, but face-to-face contact with the public has been put on hold.
How do these measures affect investors in the EB-5 program?
As mentioned, services are still being carried out, including document collection, assessment, and communication with applicants. However, direct contact tasks that are mandatory have been paused or postponed. This means that EB-5 applicants who had in-person interviews will now find that these have been rescheduled.
So while the good news is that EB-5 petitioners will still have their applications processed and status changes will still be completed, there may be a delay for EB-5 investors applying from overseas. These persons may need to wait until US embassies and consulate offices re-open, in order to complete the mandatory USCIS face to face services.
Executive Order signed to limit immigrant visa excludes EB-5
On April 22nd, President Trump signed an Executive Order to temporarily limit immigrant visas for permanent residence, for 60 days, in order to preserve job opportunities for U.S. workers.
Those who are subject to the ban will not be issued visas or admitted to the U.S. as immigrants (permanent residents) while the ban is in effect. The Executive Order also directs various agencies to review nonimmigrant visa programs within 30 days to determine if further restrictions are warranted in the interest of protecting the interests of U.S. workers. Although the EO is scheduled to expire at midnight on June 22, 2020, it may be extended “as necessary.”
It remains to be seen whether the administration’s review on immigration will be extended to H1B and L1 visas. We have done analysis on the benefits of EB-5 over H1B or F1 visas, and reducing uncertainty is a significant reason for moving to an EB-5 visa if you can.
LCR has been monitoring the news from Washington and USCIS. While the Trump administration’s executive order suspending new green cards for 60 days has significant implications for immigration in general, we were happy to see EB-5 was specifically called out and excluded. While the country rebuilds from the coronavirus, we expect the need for more investment that supports the economy and job creation.