Industry Letter Proposes to Raise Minimum EB-5 Amount, Cut Visa Waiting Lists


In a letter dated May 17, 2019, EB-5 industry leaders called upon U.S. Senate and House leaders from both parties to enact EB-5 reform. The main proposals included an increase in the minimum investment amount to US$800,000, additional set-asides for certain target investment communities, and the designation of one EB-5 visa per investor, rather than per family member.

The letter proposed a change to the visa allocation, so that each EB-5 investor consumes only one visa. Currently, each investor, plus their spouse and qualifying children, each consume one visa, leading to an “overwhelming backlog” with mainland China investors waiting in excess of 7 years for their green cards. The proposal letter estimated that this new policy alone would reduce waiting times from 7 to 15 years down to approximately 3 years. Additional procedural proposals would allow for expedited processing for certain petitioners, potentially via an additional processing fee.

To adjust for inflation since the program’s start in 1990, the lower investment amount would rise from US$500,000 to US$800,000 for investments located in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs), which now consist of rural or high-unemployment areas, plus a new category termed Urban Distressed. TEAs would enjoy set-asides of 30% of visas, with any leftover set-aside quotas rolling over to the general EB-5 visa pool for the following year. Non-TEA investment amounts would actually drop, from current US$1,000,000 to US$900,000.

The proposal also called for extending the Regional Center pilot program for six years, thus avoiding the prior pattern of brief months-long or annual extensions. If enacted, the proposal would allow for grandfathering of all pending petitions under the old investment amounts, plus one year of transitional investment levels with all new EB-5 investments set at US$650,000.

I.A. Donoso & Associates, LLC, is a law firm based in Washington, D.C., and is recognized as a leading immigration law firm with recognized expertise in visas for EB-5 investors, professionals and academics.


This month, our law firm, together with Co-Counsel Louis A Gordon, won a major victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case impacts many immigrants who have suffered from bad or ineffective advice from prior Counsel. The Court in its published decision, Flores v Barr, overturned a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling which denied our client, the Petitioner, the opportunity to have his case reopened because of ineffective assistance of his prior immigration lawyer. 


Investors and EB5 industry professionals have been anxiously waiting for the publication of a final regulation regarding the EB5 Program. USCIS has now published the final regulation which modifies the  proposed rule which was announced in February this year.

E-1 and E-2 Now Available for New Zealand

New Zealand citizens can now obtain E-1 and E-2 treaty trader and investor visas to work in the U.S. These categories, which allow up to 2 years’ renewable stay, are determined by trade treaties secured between the U.S. and the foreign country or by Congressional legislation.

Citizens of New Zealand who are already inside the U.S. may file Form I-129 to change status – a spouse or child of such an applicant should file Form I-539 to change status to match the E-category applicant. 

Waiting List Announced for Indian EB-5 Starting in July

The latest Visa Bulletin, published by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) earlier this month, confirms industry predictions of a waiting list for Indian-born EB-5 investors. Starting in July 2019, EB-5 visas will be available only to those Indian-born investors who filed their petitions before 05/01/2017. This cut-off date creates a waiting list of approximately two years, which is significantly shorter than the waiting list currently facing mainland Chinese-born investors, which currently stretches back to 10/01/2014.

Premium Processing Returns to H-1B

Starting June 10, 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume Premium Processing for all remaining H-1B petitions. This completes a trial arrangement whereby USCIS allowed limited Premium Processing starting May 20 for H-1B petitions with a Change of Status. The approach was introduced after recent years eliminated Premium Processing altogether, resulting in lengthy delays, with some H-1B petitions remaining under adjudication even after the usual annual start date of October 1.

USCIS Tightens Forms Criteria for H-1B Filings

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a caution on June 4, 2019, stating that H-1B petitions will be rejected if they fail to include names and addresses on Part 1 of Form I-129. Specifically, applicants are cautioned not to list outside counsel, clients, or other third parties, in such fields requesting the names and addresses of the petitioning U.S. employer. This measure, which goes into effect starting August 5, 2019, comes as part of the current administration’s moves to raise barriers to entry for the H-1B category overall. 

U.S. Department of State Update – Visa Retrogression and Future Wait Lists

Washington DC, June 2, 2019 – The American Immigration Lawyers Association recently spoke to Charlie Oppenheim, the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to obtain his analysis of current trends and future projections, beyond the basic visa availability updates provided in the monthly Visa Bulletin. Mr. Oppenheim re-confirmed previous predictions for the EB-5 visa category for Indian nationals. India will reach its per country visa limit and a visa waitlist for Indian-born individuals will begin in July of 2019 with an initial Final Action Date (cut-off date) in 2017.