Update on EB-5 Regional Center Legislation
As a follow up to our Oct. 13 blog post, the EB-5 Regional Center Program (the “Program”) continues to be lapsed, as the U.S. Congress passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the government in the short-term through Feb. 18, 2022. The delay through Feb. 18, 2022, gives the federal government additional time to negotiate the outstanding funding bills for certain agencies and averted a federal government shutdown on Dec. 3, 2021.
As the reauthorization of the Program after its expiration on June 30, 2021, was expected to be included in the Appropriations funding bills, the Program was not extended on Dec. 3, 2021, and continues to be in a period of lapse.
USCIS updated its website on Oct. 4, 2021, stating that it will not accept new I-526 Petitions based on a regional center investment, it will hold all pending I-526 Petitions based on the Program, and it will hold all pending I-485 applications based on the Program at least through the end of 2021. It is expected that USCIS will issue updated guidance in December 2021 to confirm if it will continue holding in abeyance these petitions and applications based on the Program. Likewise, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) confirmed in October that it would no longer accept payment, applications, and documents for immigrant visas based on the Program due to its lapse. As such, DOS processing of immigrant visa applications for EB-5 Program applicants has been halted. USCIS confirmed that it continues to accept and process I-829 Petitions filed by conditional permanent residents under the Program.
Various stakeholder organizations continue to lobby Congress for an extension of the Program, as statistics indicate more than 99,000 EB-5 Program investors and their dependent family members are impacted negatively by the lapse of the Program. It is expected that congressional offices will be in contact with USCIS regarding the policy of holding in abeyance these applications while a legislative solution is enacted.