History of the EB-5 Program
EB-5, was created by the United States Congress by passage of the Immigration Act of 1990, which restructured the U.S. immigration system and increased legal immigration quotas. The EB-5 program was established in order to stimulate the U.S. economy by encouraging foreign entrepreneurs to invest and settle permanently in the United States. Congress created the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, which established EB-5 Regional Centers,in 1993 in order to increase interest in the EB-5 program.
EB-5 Visa Reforms of the 1990s
Because of inadequate regulation and cases of fraud in some EB-5 investments, several changes were made to the EB-5 program in the late 1990s. These changes required investors to provide proof that EB-5 investments originate from lawful sources and that investors are personally involved with their EB-5 project, and they prohibited investment return guarantees. Unfortunately, efforts by USCIS to apply the new regulations retroactively to former EB-5 cases failed when the case of Chang v. U.S. made this practice illegal. After the new regulations were issued, the number of EB-5 applicants fell significantly.
EB-5 Visa Reforms of the 2000s
In order to revitalize the EB-5 program, Congress passed the Basic Pilot Program Extension and Expansion Act in 2003. A subsequent investigation of the program by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found that only a small percentage of the 10,000 visas allocated to the EB-5 program were being granted each year, which demonstrated the need for more reforms. One such reform was the creation of the Investor and Regional Center Unit (IRCU) in 2005. This specialty unit of USCIS has oversight of the EB-5 program, including case auditing, form design, regulation development, and policy creation.
For more on this topic see How to Get US Citizenship through investment: the Ultimate Guide