On Oct. 5, 2016, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued an unclassified cable on the Continuing Resolution signed into law on Sept. 29, 2016 that extends several important immigration programs, including the EB-5 Regional Center program.

The cable explains that the EB-5 Regional Center program (immigrant visa categories R51 and I51) now is set to expire on Dec. 9, 2016. The DOS has clarified that all EB-5 immigrant visas based upon investments made in regional center projects must be issued by close of business on Dec. 9, 2016; the expiration date also applies to dependent spouses and children. The DOS has instructed all visa issuing posts to hold in abeyance any pending R51 and I51 immigrant visa applications beginning on Dec. 10, 2016, if there is no extension of the EB-5 Regional Center program on or before that date. The cable also clarifies that immigrant visas for investors not investing through a regional center (T51 and C51), i.e., the “direct” or “non-regional center” program, can continue to be issued as that program remains valid beyond Dec. 9, 2016.

In addition, the DOS cable confirms that extension of the EB-5 Regional Center program through Dec. 9, 2016 will allow priority dates to immediately become “current” for October for all countries except China. The “current” priority date for China-mainland born I5 and R5 applicants is Feb. 22, 2014. Accordingly, China mainland-born investors with an I-526 Petition filed after Feb. 22, 2014 do not have immigrant visas immediately available to them and they must wait until the priority dates in the Visa Bulletin advance further.