EB-5 visa fee hike to spur applications before looming deadline - EB5Investors.com

EB-5 visa fee hike to spur applications before looming deadline

EB5Investors.com Staff

Earlier this year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that all EB-5 form fees will be subject to a significant rise in the administrative fee required come Apr. 1, 2024.

As such, EB-5 form I-526/I-526E fees will grow by 204% to $11,160, while form I-1965G by 47% to $4,470. Notably, the cost to apply a form I-956F to obtain approval for regional center designation will increase 168% to $47,695.

The USCIS said the fee hike is in response to increased demand for EB-5 visas, which is making it harder to process all applications, resulting in significant backlogs.

“USCIS has stated that increased fees will help speed up processing and overall agency efficiency – this would be a welcome development, especially given the speedier processing the EB-5 industry has already seen after the passage of the [Reform and Integrity Act of 2022] RIA and its priority processing provision for rural projects and related I-526 petitions,” explains Dennis Tristani, managing attorney at Tristani Law.

The USCIS’s backlog was partially caused by a hiring freeze that ended in March 2021; however, the agency has yet to fill all required vacancies for optimized operations.

The announced hike is expected to significantly increase the agency’s ability to process EB-5 and other visa applications. “The final fee rule would generate an additional average of $1.14 billion per year in agency revenue compared with the previous fee schedule baseline. This is the amount necessary to match agency capacity with projected workloads, so that backlogs do not accumulate in the future,” the agency says on its official website.

EB-5 investors could benefit if they apply fast using partial payments

While this fee hike will increase the financial burden for prospective EB-5 investors, those interested can still pursue the EB-5 visa via partial investments to lock in their applications before the new fees come into effect by making a partial payment.

Regional Centers are not overlooking this short-lived opportunity, explains Tristani. “The fee increase has caused Regional Centers to increase their marketing campaigns, with a specific focus on filing before April 1st using partial payments to avoid paying the higher USCIS filing fee.”

Partial payments require EB-5 applicants to disburse a specific amount, usually half of the investment capital, and provide the rest at a later agreed date. The minimum EB-5 investment amount is $800,000 if the project is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), rural or urban, or $1.05 million if it’s anywhere else in the U.S.

The hike comes as the EB-5 industry witnesses a streamlining and easing of operations caused by the introduction of the RIA. The RIA also extended the EB-5 Regional Center Program to 2027, helping the industry to stabilize and avoid damaging speculation about potential closure of the program.

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