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For many interested EB-5 Regional Center participants and those already vested in Regional Center programs, all eyes are turned to Congress to see if the September 30, 2012 expiration date of the pilot program will be met with a resolution.

On May 24, 2012, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S. 3245 a bill to permanently reauthorize four immigration related pilot programs:

  • EB-5 Regional Center Program
  • E-Verify Program
  • Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program; and the
  • Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program.

This is just one in a series of bills introduced to make permanent the charter for a successful, job-creating immigrant visa program that has brought economic development and job growth to the U.S. The bill is co-sponsored by the Senate Judiciary Committees Ranking Member Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, has not co-sponsored the bill but he did offer an enthusiastic statement for the record, applauding a program that has done so much good in New York State, and which needs to be made permanent.

It is our understanding that the status of this altruistic bill is very precarious.  There are many proposed amendments to this bill that will encumber it in such a way that could make it unworkable.  There are also many obstacles to passage such as the limited number of legislative days left in this session and the upcoming Presidential election.

The more likely scenario is for a 2-3 year extension of the EB-5 Regional Center pilot program to be approved as part of an appropriations bill.  Earlier this week a three year extension of the program was added during the Appropriations Committee’s consideration of the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill.  We should carefully watch the movement of this appropriations bill.

If the EB-5 Regional Center pilot program expires, our sources on the Hill indicate that the Senate leaders will use alternative methods to include an extension measure on other appropriations legislative vehicles and will most likely include a significant filing fee as a “pay-for” for other government expenditures.

All of this is happening in the Senate.  It is our understanding that the House is just waiting for its Senate counterpart to act and that it will follow the Senate’s lead.

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Photo of Laura Foote Reiff‡ Laura Foote Reiff‡

Laura Foote Reiff Co-Chairs the Business Immigration & Compliance Practice and is the Co-Managing Shareholder of the Northern Virginia Office. She also Co-Chairs the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s International Employment, Immigration & Workforce Strategies group. Laura focuses her practice on business immigration

Laura Foote Reiff Co-Chairs the Business Immigration & Compliance Practice and is the Co-Managing Shareholder of the Northern Virginia Office. She also Co-Chairs the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s International Employment, Immigration & Workforce Strategies group. Laura focuses her practice on business immigration laws and regulations affecting U.S. and foreign companies, as well as related employment compliance and legislative issues.

Laura advises corporations on a variety of compliance-related issues, particularly related to Form I-9 eligibility employment verification matters. Laura has been involved in audits and internal investigations and has successfully minimized monetary exposure as well as civil and criminal liabilities on behalf of her clients. She develops immigration compliance strategies and programs for both small and large companies. Laura performs I-9, H-1B and H-2B compliance inspections during routine internal reviews, while performing due diligence (in the context of a merger, acquisition or sale) or while defending a company against a government investigation.

Laura represents many businesses in creating, managing and using “Regional Centers” that can create indirect jobs toward the 10 new U.S. jobs whose creation can give rise to EB-5 permanent residence for investment. She coordinates this work with attorneys practicing in securities law compliance, with economists identifying “targeted employment areas” and projecting indirect job creation, and with licensed securities brokers coordinating offerings. She also represents individual investors in obtaining conditional permanent residence and in removing conditions from permanent residence.

Laura’s practice also consists of managing business immigration matters and providing immigration counsel to address the visa and work authorization needs of U.S. and global personnel including professionals, managers and executives, treaty investors/ traders, essential workers, persons of extraordinary ability, corporate trainees, and students. She is an immigration policy advocacy expert and works on immigration reform policies.

Admitted in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Not admitted in Virginia. Practice limited to federal immigration practice.