As the dust settles from the election, one thing is clear: no one can predict the future; however, our best guess is that EB-5 is in good hands. The program is currently under extension until Dec. 9, 2016, and the industry anticipates another extension until March, 2017, though some professionals expect that the extension that could last into next September. No matter how long the current program is extended for, we expect reform in the next year.
When reform does occur, what impact will Trump and a republican Congress have on the outcome? As a real estate developer whose Trump Hotel brand utilizes EB-5 regularly, it’s reasonable to believe that Trump will continue to support the EB-5 program. On the other hand, EB-5 is not only an investment program, but an immigration program. At certain points during his campaign, Trump seemed to be negative on immigration; however, looking at the facts, it is specific programs he does not support. His concern is that illegal immigration and unskilled immigration categories are taking away U.S. jobs, but he has also made it clear that he supports immigration of highly-skilled workers. Because EB-5 creates 10 jobs per investor, as opposed to taking away American jobs, it is likely a program that he will continue endorse.
To reduce the number of lower skill workers coming into the US, Trump may make efforts to scale-down or remove EW-3 or EB-3 categories, which could result in those visas being allocated to EB-1, EB-2, and EB-5 applicants. For non-immigrant visas like the H-1B, there are currently 65,000 visas available for degree holders and another 20,000 available for advanced degree holders. Trump could try to shift more of the 85,000 annual visa allocation to advanced degree holders. With fewer routes available to the US, we anticipate EB-5 will only become more popular in countries like India or China that rely on H-1B and EB-3 for mobility.
Authors: Lewis Laskin and Brooke Ma