President Donald Trump. Speaking to supporters in October 2016. By Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With a new president, as well as a new Congress in power, the future of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has remained a question mark. The program was recently extended through April 28 as part of a Continuing Resolution to keep the program funded, but Congress has yet to vote to give it life beyond that date.

Since President Donald Trump took office, international investors have watched closely as the new administration implemented a travel ban that affected seven countries in the Middle East. The ban, which has faced criticism and court battles, also spurred many investors in those countries to consider applying for an EB-5 visa to be able to travel to the United States.

Immigration professionals in Dubai said they have seen an increase in EB-5 inquiries since Trump was elected. They equated the increase to not only the travel ban, but also to investors who wanted to be approved before the program was changed or even canceled.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program allows those living in other countries to obtain a U.S. visa by investing a minimum of $500,000 into a new business venture that must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

However, Congress is considering changes to the program that would increase the minimum investment from $500,000 to $1.35 million. Another change would put the federal government in charge of deciding what areas count as Targeted Employment Areas
(TEA). These areas allow investors to invest smaller amounts in hopes of boosting the local economy and adding jobs. In the past, TEAs were manipulated, some might say gerrymandered, to include areas that were doing well already so that investors might be more likely to put their money in those locations. Federal control of TEAs would prevent this and would have them working more in the spirit of their original intent.

Congress is back in session now, and after President Trump’s recent speech to lawmakers, it’s clear that the economy and the federal budget, are going to be getting more interest. We’ll keep following this program and provide updates as decisions on the future of the EB-5 program are made by Congress.