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EB-5 has been alive for 25 years. As part of the program’s silver anniversary celebration, we should be working diligently towards making the Regional Center program permanent. This is not just a wish, but a distinct possibility with the right efforts made by the stakeholders.

The Regional Center program has grown much more popular in recent years. It has attracted the majority of EB-5 capital and aided in the most job creation in the history of EB-5. The Regional Center program has remained a pilot program subject to renewal every three years, and it is scheduled to expire Sept. 30, 2015.

The regional center program has been extended every three years since 1993.

While the program has come under political attack in recent months with a few members of Congress intimating that it should expire or be revamped, the EB-5 Coalition, a broad-based group of trade associations and stakeholders, believes this opinion is misplaced as a result of a small number of bad actors in the EB-5 space.

The good news is that we already have momentum in Congress. In February, Reps. Amodei and Polis introduced the American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2015 (H.R. 616), also co-sponsored by Reps. Bera, Curbelo, Dold and Quigley. This economic growth bill would enact common sense reforms to improve and modernize the EB-5 visa program for immigrants willing to invest in job-creating development projects in the United States. There is serious lobbying effort afoot to obtain 100 co-sponsors. There is also an intense effort to have a companion bill introduced in the Senate in the same bi-partisan fashion.

Although proactive, positive immigration reforms are not likely in the 114th Congress, the EB-5 legislation is a different creature. It is a jobs and foreign investment program. It requires that 10 jobs be created for each EB-5 applicant. In fact, tens of thousands of jobs have been created since 1990 and billions of dollars have been invested in U.S. businesses.

Bi-partisan support for the program continues to grow as the regional center model has blossomed into a tool for economic advancement and job creation throughout the American economy. The EB-5 program, and specifically the regional center model, has provided a unique funding mechanism for all types of real estate and other projects throughout the United States. It is now time to make this very successful program permanent.

There is a strong initiative underway by industry stakeholders and some members of Congress to make the program permanent, which would ensure stability for participating entrepreneurs, investors, and communities. Permanency would also allow the EB-5 Regional Center Program to continue to strengthen the U.S. economy by creating American investment opportunities and job growth. Should legislation not be enacted prior to September 2015, we hope a temporary renewal of the program would be passed allowing more time for greater legislative reforms to be enacted by the end of 2015.

Please join and become active in the EB-5 Coalition to learn more and help with these important efforts. #eb525

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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.