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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.

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Photo of Laura Foote Reiff‡ Laura Foote Reiff‡

Laura Foote Reiff 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,

Laura Foote Reiff 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.