By Luis Victoria, Esq.
The USCIS published a “final rule” on July 24, 2019 that will become effective on November 21, 2019 This rule refers to raising minimum investment amounts related to the EB-5 program. Under the final rule, the USCIS is revising the different standards it uses to evaluate the targeted employment area (TEA) designations.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), defines a Targeted Employment Area as a rural area or non-rural area that is suffering from high unemployment. For instance, the State of Florida has 33 Targeted Employment Areas.
Targeted employment area (TEA) designations
Regarding the TEA, USCIS mentioned that will now “directly review and determine the designation of high-unemployment TEAs.” It means that USCIS will not refer to the designations made by the states or the ones made by the local governments.
Also, USCIS defines now that: “Specially designated high-unemployment TEAs will now consist of a combination of census tracts that include the tract or contiguous tracts in which the new commercial enterprise is principally doing business, including any or all directly adjacent tracts.” In order to explain this new definition, the USCIS establishes that TEAs may include cities, town with population of 20,000 or more outside the metropolitan areas. Additionally, the TEAs may have experienced an unemployment which average is at least 150% with respect to the national average unemployment rate.
The rationale behind these particular changes made by the USCIS are related to motivate direct investment in those areas most in need. Also, it added that the purpose of the new changes relate to the high-unemployment areas definitions included in the EB-5 program.
As a result of the new changes in the EB-5 program, the USCIS increased the minimum investment level from $1 million to $1.8 million and keeping a 50% of difference with respect to the investment level in the TEA areas which increased from $500,000 to $900,000. In addition, these amounts will be adjusted according to the inflation every five years.
Finally, the new changes allow EB-5 petitioners to retain their priority date if the petitioner has a previous approval of an EB-5 immigrant petition and they are filing a new EB-5 petition. Also, the new rule stated that some derivative family members must independently filed to remove the conditions on their permanent residence.