EB-5 Petitions Spike Amid Program Uncertainty
The number of EB-5 visa petitions received in the last fiscal year hit a new high, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said in a recent report, with applicants rushing to file while lawmakers mull potential changes to the immigrant investor program. The Nov. 18 report showed USCIS received 14,373 petitions in fiscal year 2015, up 31.6 percent over last year. The data also showed that almost half, 45.7 percent, of petitions were submitted between July and September due to the expected expiry of the program on September 30, 2015. It has since been temporarily renewed until December 11, 2015 while legislators decide the changes to be implemented.
Under the current rules, EB-5 projects in target employment areas, or areas with at least 150 percent of the national unemployment rate, require a $500,000 minimum investment, while other projects require a $1 million investment. But a major sticking point in the legislative negotiations involves raising those thresholds to $800,000 and $1.2 million respectively.
Another looming concern is the number of applications on USCIS' backlog, a number that has been steadily increasing as the program’s popularity grows. The agency said it had 17,367 petitions pending at the end of September, up 40 percent over the year before.
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