Carrot Approach Nets Zero in EB-5 Reform, in Fact, a Sea of 708 Zeroes

By David North on April 18, 2024

In March 2022, Congress revised the then-suspended EB-5 immigrant investor program in several ways; one was to create a series of carrots that would (hopefully) cause alien investors to put their money into particularly useful segments of the American economy.

Recently released FY 2023 State Department visa statistics show that these attempts to steer investments into rural areas (a 20 percent set-aside), into areas of high unemployment (10 percent), and into infrastructure projects (2 percent) have been totally unsuccessful.

One State Department data source (the first page of which is shown below) indicates that the three set-aside programs, when shown for the 236 nations and colonies of the world, display a sea of 708 zeroes for the non-use of the program compared to zero hits for its use. (For the programs of interest, see the three columns highlighted in yellow.)

Obscure State Department Data Shows Non-Use of EB-5 Reform

The data for the prior fiscal year was the same as for FY 2023; no one touched the preferences.

The original idea was that if proposed EB-5 projects met certain requirements (those of the set-asides), they would take precedence over all others; the premise was that this Congress-given factor would appeal to at least some of the alien investors and they would put their (usually) $800,000 investments into these programs rather than the usual urban real estate ventures. But if no one takes up the preference offer, and the earlier practices remain on offer, there will be no change in where these investments are made.

Incidentally, to my knowledge no one has written about this comprehensive non-use of the 2022 reforms in two fiscal years running.

The complete lack of success in this attempt to reform the EB-5 program has been mirrored in the partial collapse of similar attempts in the H-2A (farm workers) and H-2B (non-farm, non-skilled workers) programs to steer employers away from their usual sources of workers and toward hiring them from the Northern Triangle and from Haiti. The lures, particularly regarding Haiti, have not changed employer practices, as we reported earlier.

If you want to cause the immigration system to operate in a certain way, maybe one needs to mandate the changes one has in mind; carrots don’t always work.