Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Permanently Authorize EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program
On May 24, 2012, after months of negotiation, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) introduced legislation, which if passed, will grant the permanent authorization to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Program. It should be noted that the current authorization expires in September 2012. Senator Leahy believes that “Vermont has been a model for the success of the EB-5 Regional Center Program” and that, once enacted, “the measure… will also pave the way for [his] efforts to improve and build upon the EB-5 Regional Center Program,… to ensure stability for investors and entrepreneurs, and to ensure that [USCIS] has the tools it needs to keep this program a strong, secure, and vital part of our economy.” It should be noted that the current authorization expires in September 2012.
Thus far, Senator Leahy has managed to secure short-term extensions of the pilot program through Congress. The mentioned bill is co-sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Member. The bill will also extend the voluntary E-Verify program and two (2) visa programs – for religious workers and the “Conrad 30” for foreign medical graduate physicians.
The Tangible Benefits of the Vermont Regional Center
Vermont’s Regional Center (RC) has been a successful private-public partnership between the State of Vermont and a number of businesses in the state. In fact, two (2) highly successful ski resorts in the state – Jay Peak and Sugarbush, are active participants in the pilot project. Both resorts have attracted business and tourism to the state, stimulating the local economy, and creating jobs. Other EB-5 projects in Vermont are also being contemplated at this time.
Back to the Basics
For those unfamiliar with the EB-5 Regional Center Program, the program was created in 1993 and attracts foreign investors who are interested in becoming lawful permanent residence (i.e. green card holders) as a result of investing in the U.S. economy. Through the program, EB-5 investors must invest at least $500,000 USD into a project managed by USCIS approved regional center. Thereafter, the investor submits his/her immigrant petition. Once the petition is approved, the investor is granted a conditional two (2) year green card. Prior to the expiration of the two (2) years, the investor must show that his/her investment has created at least ten (10) jobs as a result of his/her investment in addition to other USCIS mandated requirements.
At present, there are over 220 Regional Centers throughout the country with many more applications pending with USCIS. The program has attracted more than a billion dollars of foreign direct investment to the U.S. as well as created thousands of new domestic jobs.
Having been introduced into Congress on May 24, 2012, the bill is currently in the first stage of the legislative process. The bill will next be considered by the appropriate Committee. Thereafter, it must pass the House and the Senate before being signed into law by the President. Given the checks and balances involved in the legislative process, there is no guarantee that this bill will actually materialize into law. Nonetheless, it certainly is a step in the right direction.