Today the U.S. Congress passed a government funding bill containing a short-term extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Program through December 11, 2015. We wrote previously about the EB-5 Regional Center Program’s prospects for reauthorization in a post on September 14. The bill, known as a continuing resolution, contains an extension for the EB-5 Program along with extensions for E-Verify, the Conrad-30 Waiver Program, and the Non-Minister Religious Worker Visa Program. The bill would extend all four of these programs through December 11, 2015. Section 131 sets out the duration of the funding authority. Section 131 of the bill contains the language to extend the EB-5 program.
For months the EB-5 community has been concerned about what might or might not happen with the expiration of the EB-5 Regional Center program. As Congress has been working toward an EB-5 reform package, many in the community have been viewing the September 30th sunset date as a hard deadline for filing regional center-related petitions. In light of the complicated legislative process, filing I-526 Investor petitions as well as exemplar petitions before the September 30th potential expiration of the program was reasonably seen as a priority.
Going forward, it will be important for industry stakeholders to reflect on why September 30th was viewed as a meaningful date for either of these filings. For instance, there was virtually no serious discussion about the possibility that Congress would simply let the Regional Center Program expire and not act to reauthorize it. Based solely upon on introduced legislation in the Congress and public statements from lawmakers, it appears likely that some reforms will ultimately be made to the EB-5 Regional Center Program. Over the coming months, industry stakeholders should take the opportunity to present their ideas about how any reforms could be implemented effectively and in a manner that supports the job creating efforts in which industry participants are engaged.
Now that Congress has passed a clean extension of the program through early December, we can only hope that real workable reform with reasonable transition dates can be enacted. Such an approach will help meet the expectations of investors, regional centers, and the job creating projects in which investments are being made so that all participants can proceed with the predictability and stability necessary for a healthy program.