NewsMajor EB-5 Fee Increase! USCIS to Raise Filing Fees on April 1st,...

Major EB-5 Fee Increase! USCIS to Raise Filing Fees on April 1st, 2024

The EB-5 immigrant investor program allows foreign nationals to obtain green cards for themselves and their families by investing in projects in the United States that create at least 10 permanent full-time jobs for U.S. workers. It has been an incredibly popular program since its inception in 1990, facilitating billions of dollars of foreign investment into the country.

However, on January 30th, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule that will significantly increase filing fees for EB-5 related forms, with the hikes going into effect on April 1st, 2024.

This article will provide an in-depth look at the new EB-5 fee schedule, analysis of the rule change, tips for investors to save money, and the potential impacts it may have on the program going forward.

New EB-5 Form Fees Effective April 1st, 2024

The most substantial fee increases are to the main forms that investors and regional centers utilize, including:

  • Form I-924, Application for Regional Center Designation: Increased from $17,795 to $23,465, a 32% hike
  • Form I-924A, Annual Certification of Regional Center: Increased from $4,465 to $8,085, an 81% hike
  • Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor: Increased from $4,015 to $5,900, a 47% hike
  • Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions: Increased from $3,675 to $5,900, a 61% hike

Additionally, the brand new Form I-956F, Regional Center Annual Statement, has an initial fee set at $4,465. Several other forms also saw more moderate increases in the 10-30% range. You can view the complete fee schedule on the USCIS website.

Analysis of the USCIS Fee Rule ChangeNursing Abroad images 32

In the original notice of proposed rulemaking last year, USCIS suggested even more substantial hikes, with fees doubling or even tripling in some cases.

They received over 5,400 public comments criticizing the proposal, mostly stating that such dramatic increases would severely reduce investment and access to the EB-5 program. USCIS seems to have taken some of these concerns into account, as Director Ur M. Jaddou noted:

“Every fee in the final rule is the same or lower than in the proposed rule. For most individual filers, proposed fees would have increased by over 75 percent. The final rule limits fee increases to 26 percent”

However, when analyzing the actual rule change documentation, it appears the main factor behind the slightly reduced fees was revising the EB-5 workload and revenue projections, rather than the public feedback .

By increasing the expected number of EB-5 filings, USCIS determined they could charge lower per-unit fees while still recovering full operational costs and generating surplus revenue. Whether these new projections match reality remains to be seen.

Tips for EB-5 Investors to Save Money

While the fee hikes going into effect April 1st are disappointing for many, there are a few things investors can do to potentially avoid higher costs:

  • File Form I-526 or Form I-829 by March 31st: Any petitions postmarked by this date can still pay the current, lower fees. Just be sure your application is complete and accurate to prevent delays or rejections.
  • File Forms Online: USCIS is implementing a $50 discount for online filing across many forms, including I-526 and I-829.
  • Leverage Fee Waivers if Possible: USCIS continues to offer fee waivers for applicants facing financial hardship. Eligibility criteria can be found on their website.
  • Consider Direct EB-5 Investments: The new rules actually increase regional center fees more than direct investments. Direct EB-5 may be a viable path forward for some.

Consult with your immigration attorney to determine which cost-savings strategies make sense for your unique situation.

Potential Impacts on the EB-5 Program

While only time will tell how these fee increases truly impact EB-5 investment and approvals, here are some potential consequences to consider:

  • Rush of Filings Before Deadline: Many investors may scramble to get their petitions submitted before fees rise on 4/1. This could overwhelm USCIS officers in the short-term.
  • Shift Towards Direct EB-5 Investments: With lower relative fee hikes compared to regional centers, direct EB-5 may see renewed interest.
  • Reduced Application Volumes After Deadline: Higher fees could price some investors out or reduce incentive to invest. Lower application volumes long-term.Nursing Abroad DACA Student
  • Increased Processing Times: If applications drop significantly for an extended time, USCIS may struggle to sustain current staffing levels, further extending case processing.
  • Lower Regional Center Formation: The substantial 32% Form I-924 fee increase may deter the creation of new regional centers.
  • Greater Industry Consolidation: Existing regional centers with large portfolios may be better equipped to absorb higher costs than smaller centers.

While EB-5 remains an attractive visa option despite fee increases, investors should consult immigration attorneys to understand the new rule changes and explore their options prior to the 4/1 deadline.

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