US Plans Substantial Fee Increase for Non-Immigrant Visas, Including EB-5, Impacting Immigration Policies and International Relations. EB-5 Visa Fees Set to Surge from $3,675 to $11,160.

Effective April 1, fees for non-immigrant US visas, including the EB-5, have seen a substantial increase, signaling a significant overhaul in visa services. This move could potentially impact immigration policies and international relations.

According to USCIS, the fees for EB-5 visas, also known as investor visas, have risen from $3,675 (equivalent to over ₹3,00,000) to $11,160 (equivalent to over ₹9,00,000).

Nicholas A. Mastroianni, President and Chief Marketing Officer of US Immigration Fund, discusses in a Livemint exclusive interview the potential impact on the volume of visa applications from India and offers insights into the future outlook of the visa category in India, along with other pertinent details.

As of April 1, 2024, USCIS has rolled out fee adjustments impacting various immigration and naturalization benefits, notably affecting the EB-5 Investor Visa procedure. How can USIF assist in navigating these changes?

In anticipation of the upcoming USCIS fee hike, our approach entails offering a partial investment option for EB-5 applicants to alleviate immediate financial pressures. With an initial investment of $200,000, investors can submit their applications prior to the fee increase, granting them time to secure the remaining $600,000. This strategy aims not only to navigate around the fee hike but also to present a more feasible financial route into the EB-5 program.

Following the fee increase, we are doubling down on our commitment to assisting EB-5 applicants. We will enhance our advisory services to align with the new fee structure, providing comprehensive support. This will include financial planning, investment strategy guidance, and personalized assistance throughout the updated process. Our aim is to equip investors with the knowledge and strategies needed to navigate the fee adjustments seamlessly. Despite the financial changes, we remain dedicated to maintaining the accessibility of the EB-5 visa process, ensuring a smooth transition for investors.

The USCIS recently updated its policy regarding the minimum investment period for EB-5 visa applicants. What is the current investment period, and how does it affect investors?

The October 2023 policy update from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) represents a significant shift in the EB-5 investment landscape. It establishes a clear requirement of a two-year investment duration from the time funds are invested in a job-creating venture. This rule brings much-needed clarity and stability, offering assurance to investors that they can meet the Green Card eligibility criteria after a defined period of job creation. It signifies a notable step forward in enhancing the program’s efficacy and maintaining its integrity.

In line with the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, this update specifies the duration for maintaining an investment to qualify for a Green Card through the EB-5 program. It confirms that as long as the investment results in the creation of at least ten jobs, investors can reclaim their investment after two years while retaining eligibility for U.S. permanent residency. This clarification marks a significant stride in ongoing endeavors to enhance the efficiency and integrity of the EB-5 program, rendering it more appealing and feasible for prospective investors.

What is the Future Forecast for EB5 Uptake in India? Which Demographic and Income Groups Show Interest in the Program? How Many EB5 Investors Has the Country Attracted Thus Far?

The EB-5 program in India is experiencing a notable uptick, drawing primarily high-net-worth individuals and prosperous families seeking U.S. residency. These applicants often include business professionals or individuals seeking better educational and career prospects for their families. The allocation of around 676 EB-5 visas to Indians in FY 2023 highlights the increasing popularity of the program. The current investment threshold of $800,000 aligns with the economic profile of this particular segment in India.

According to the USCIS report ending in December 2023, 2,393 I-526 applications were filed and approved for Indian investors, awaiting visa allocation.

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