The EB-5 community received welcome news from Capitol Hill Today. Through a unanimous vote the Senate passed S. 3245 which provides for a three year extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program. The measure now moves to the House. Although, the House is currently on recess and will only reconvene in September, indications from sources on Capitol Hill are that the measure will be supported in the House by members from both sides of the aisle.
Last week, GT Attorneys attended and participated in the First Annual Southern California EB-5 Conference hosted by eb5investors.com. Participating in the conference were:
- Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) who chairs the House Judiciary Committee
- Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) who is a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, as well as the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit; and
- Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who chairs the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
All three members of Congress expressed their support for the reauthorization of the EB-5 program. Chairman Smith specifically recognized the positive impact the EB-5 program has had on the United States during difficult economic times, both in its ability to create jobs for U.S. workers as well as to encourage substantial foreign direct investment into the United States. Likewise, Congressmen Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher both noted that attracting highly-skilled business people, entrepreneurs, and other professionals through the EB-5 program was beneficial to the country as a whole. The conference afforded attendees the unprecedented ability to voice concerns about the program directly to Chairman Smith.
Participants discussed many issues facing them in the EB-5 program including uncertainty about the status of the Regional Center Pilot Program which is set to sunset on September 30, administrative delays in processing of applications by USCIS as well as the implementation of new evidentiary standards by USCIS in the adjudication of EB-5 related applications (I-924, I-526 and I-829) that appear to be unauthorized or at a minimum not addressed by Congress. Chairman Smith not only stated that he would accept a list of issues from stakeholders at the meeting to bring to the attention of USCIS but he would also be open to accepting recommendations on improvements to the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program to incorporate into proposed legislative measures
Indications from government officials are that a record high of 6,500 EB-5 visas will be issued during the 2012 fiscal year. To date, USCIS statistics indicate that the EB-5 Program has been responsible for creating at least 46,810 jobs for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and attracting more than $2.3 billion in foreign direct investment to the U.S. since its inception. Analysts project that the Program could contribute over $4.4 billion to U.S. GDP as well as create or preserve almost 75,000 jobs each year if the annual quota of 10,000 EB-5 visas were met. California’s Regional Centers account for over 25% of all Regional Centers in the U.S.
GT applauds these prominent members of the House for their support of the EB-5 program.