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Five Myths About the U.S. EB-5 Visa Program and U.S. Elections

Golden Gate Global

The 2024 U.S. elections have dominated airwaves nationwide. As with every election year, immigration is a central issue, emphasized by the intense rhetoric and polarized nature of American politics, which create the specter of extreme outcomes.

While candidates discuss immigration as a matter of policy, the eventuality may present life-changing implications for immigrants, including prospective EB-5 visa applicants. 

The EB-5 immigrant investor program is America’s version of the Golden Visa and is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The family-friendly program allows foreign investors to obtain U.S. permanent residence followed by U.S. citizenship via a minimum investment of $800,000 in a targeted employment area designated by the federal government or $1,050,000 in any area outside of a targeted employment area. The investment, generally made as a loan, must also create ten American jobs. 

In 2022, Congress made significant legislative changes to the program via the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA). The reforms, signed into law by President Biden, include stricter oversight, increased transparency, and enhanced investor protections, including a sunset clause that guarantees existing EB-5 investor applicants the opportunity to obtain immigration benefits even if the program lapses.

Still, election year buzz has circulated various misconceptions about the program. Understanding these myths can assuage concerns, especially in light of the RIA’s significant changes. Here, we debunk five myths about the EB-5 program and U.S. elections.

Myth 1: The EB-5 Visa program will close if a new administration takes office

One prevalent myth is that an incoming presidential administration could abolish the EB-5 program. First, it is essential to recognize that federal law enacted the EB-5 program, which Congress can only repeal by a specific act, or a federal court can strike down by ruling it unconstitutional. 

As part of the country’s checks-and-balances system, the president has no power to unilaterally change federal law.

Second, and though leadership changes can influence immigration policy, the EB-5 program, among the oldest in residence and citizenship by investment programs globally, has shown resilience across different political landscapes. Its dual aim to stimulate the economy and create jobs via capital injection from foreign investors affords the program’s federal bipartisan support.

In addition, the RIA, introduced by Reps. Greg Stanton (Democrat) and Brian Fitzpatrick (Republican) further solidified the program’s foundation by clarifying areas of uncertainty, incentivizing investment in areas in greatest need of economic revitalization, and detecting and eliminating fraud. 

The neutral nature of these modifications underscores the program’s stability, regardless of the political party in power.

Myth 2: Election outcomes have immediate and drastic impacts on EB-5 processing times

Another misconception is that the outcomes of U.S. elections directly and immediately affect EB-5 processing times. In reality, the USCIS manages the processing of EB-5 applications and operates based on existing laws and regulations rather than political whims.

While administrative policies can influence processing efficiencies, changes typically occur gradually and are impacted by multiple factors, including USCIS resources, workload, and broader immigration policies.

The RIA also addressed delays by mandating that the USCIS report on processing times and giving the agency processing time guidelines for applications like Form-I526E, a conditional green card application. 

These measures aim to reduce backlogs and provide investors with more predictable timelines, and so far, they have done so.

Myth 3: Election outcomes immediately affect EB-5 visa availability

Annual limits set by Congress and managed by the USCIS govern the availability of EB-5 visas. Election outcomes do not and cannot immediately alter these limits. 

For the EB-5 visa program, multiple set-aside categories are now favoring post-RIA investors. The first of two targeted employment areas (TEAs) concerns rural projects, such as Golden Gate Global’s Anasu Resort project, which receives an annual 20% visa allocation as well as priority processing. 

High unemployment area TEA projects are allotted a 10% visa set-aside, and infrastructure projects 2%. 

Myth 4: The EB-5 program is immune to election outcomes

Though the EB-5 program enjoys broad support, it is not entirely insulated from election outcomes. Changes in administration can lead to shifts in immigration priorities and policies, which can impact employment-based and related visas. 

For example, in 2020, President Trump signed several presidential decrees temporarily suspending immigration into the United States in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic and to protect American workers. 

Yet, the proclamations specifically carved out EB-5, allowing investors in the program to enter the country without issue, while immigrants in other visa categories, including employment-based categories, were blocked.

Myth 5: Only certain political parties support the EB-5 visa program

There is a belief that only some political parties or administrations support the EB-5 program, perhaps because of some politicians’ broader attitude toward immigration. 

However, the program has garnered support from both Republicans and Democrats as its benefits, such as job creation in rural and high-unemployment areas, appeal to a broad range of policymakers. In the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which highlighted the need for sustained economic growth and job creation, this became a high priority on every legislator’s agenda. 

By way of illustration, since the RIA’s passage two years ago, EB-5 investors have funneled at least $4.275 billion into the U.S. economy at no cost to U.S. taxpayers, according to Lucid Professional Writing’s EB-5 Statistics.

In summary, the EB-5 immigrant investor program continues to be a vital component of the U.S. immigration landscape. By understanding and debunking myths, prospective investors can make informed decisions and better appreciate the program’s long-term viability.

Abhinav (Abhi) Lohia is Golden Gate Global’s Managing Director of Global Business Development. He is a licensed finance professional and a former partner at an EB-5 law firm based in New York. He has been in the EB-5 Industry since earning his Master of Laws (LLM) from the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., in 2013.

Contact Abhinav through his LinkedIn account.

Christina Tabacco is the Director of International Business Development at Golden Gate Global. In addition to being a FINRA-licensed finance professional, she earned a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has also studied at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Contact Christina through her LinkedIn account.

Golden Gate Global is a leading USCIS-designated EB-5 regional center headquartered in San Francisco, California. The 2011-founded firm enjoys a distinguished track record, including a 100% USCIS project approval rate for its 15 projects, over $750M of EB-5 capital raised, and over $210M repaid to more than 420 investor families with no defaults.

To learn more, contact Golden Gate Global via our website.