NREDC > EB5 Info > Origination of the EB5 Program

Origination of the EB5 Program

The Immigrant Investor Program, more commonly known as EB-5, was created by the United States Congress’ Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT90). This act significantly restructured the U.S. immigration system and included changes to non-immigrant visa categories, deportation rules, and increased legal immigration limits, among other important revisions.

Congress established the EB-5 program to stimulate the U.S. economy by giving foreign entrepreneurs the opportunity to permanently live and work in the United States after they have invested in an American commercial enterprise.
In 1993, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program to increase interest in the EB-5 visa program. This new pilot program established EB5 Regional Centers. Regional centers are business entities that receive special designation from United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to administer EB-5 investments and create jobs.

EB-5 Visa Reforms of the 2000s

Congress passed the Basic Pilot Program Extension and Expansion Act of 2003 to help revitalize the EB-5 program. This act required the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to conduct a thorough investigation into the EB-5 visa program. This investigation revealed that only a fraction of the 10,000 visas allocated to the EB-5 program were actually being granted each year. This discovery prompted more program reforms. One such reform was the creation of the Investor and Regional Center Unit (IRCU) in 2005. This specialty unit of USCIS has oversight of the EB-5 program, including case auditing, form design, regulation development, and policy creation. The formation of the IRCU has led to better coordination and increased reliability in the EB-5 program.

Changes in EB-5 Policy

USCIS issued revised EB-5 policy guidance in 2009. USCIS centralized EB-5 processing at the California Service Center (CSC) whereas the processing had previously taken place at two different centers – California and Texas. The EB-5 direct investment program is a permanent fixture of U.S. immigration law, and in spite of not yet being permanent, the EB-5 program has been consistently reauthorized.

Modernization changes in 2019

USCIS published a final rule of EB-5 modernization changes in July 2019, which took effect on Nov. 21, 2019.
Changes included an increase in investment amounts from $500,000 to $900,000 in a TEA and from $1 million to $1.8 million elsewhere; USCIS designates TEAs instead of individual states; and that certain investors can get priority date retention.

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