The Latest on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, AILA Urges USCIS to Hold EB-5 RC Petitions in Abeyance

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The bad news continues for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. As our readers will know, the EB-5 Regional Center program has been in a period of lapse following Congressional failure to reauthorize the program after its expiration at midnight on June 30, 2021. Such reauthorization was expected to be included in the government’s appropriations funding bills, but no such action has yet taken place to extend the program.

In a glimmer of hope, on December 3, 2021, President Biden signed H.R. 6119 into law, “Further Extending Government Funding Act” which includes a short-term continuing resolution that funds the federal government through February 18, 2022. EB-5 Regional Center legislation extending the program is expected to be included in future appropriation bills.

With its hands tied on the matter, on October 4, 2021, USCIS updated its website to indicate that it would not be accepting new I-526 petitions based on a regional center investment, but would be placing all pending I-526 petitions based on the Regional Center program in “abeyance,” (a temporary hold), as well as placing all pending I-485 green card applications based on a Regional Center investment on hold at least through the end of 2021, pending further action from Congress. No acting is being taken on applications placed on hold.

I-829 Petitions filed by conditional permanent residents under the Regional Center program remain unaffected. USCIS has confirmed that such applications are being accepted and processed by the agency.

Acting upon the government lapse, for its part, the Department of State has stopped processing immigrant visa applications for EB-5 Program applicants altogether.

Based on the uncertain climate, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recently banded together with the Invest in the USA and EB-5 Investment Coalition, sending a letter to USCIS urging them to continue to hold EB-5 Regional Center (RC) program-related petitions and applications in “abeyance” beyond the end of calendar year 2021 to allow Congress sufficient time to reauthorize the EB-5 Regional Center program.

The letter addressing USCIS highlights that there are an estimated 100,000 Regional Center applicants currently waiting in limbo for the program to be reauthorized by Congress; including 83,000 EB-5 investors with approved EB-5 petitions waiting for a visa interview from overseas, and 12,798 EB-5 Regional Center applications pending at USCIS.

The call to action asks USCIS to keep all pending EB-5 regional center related applications in abeyance beyond the end of the year so that Congress has enough time to consider extending the program. In addition, AILA is asking USCIS to update its website confirming that it will continue to hold such applications beyond the 2021 calendar year.

At this time, numerous stakeholders are pushing Congress to extend the program based on the vital impact that EB-5 Regional Center investments have on the U.S. economy, and their creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs. 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.

We will be keeping a watchful eye on any new developments and will post them right here on our blog.


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The Latest on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, AILA Urges USCIS to Hold EB-5 RC Petitions in Abeyance