Senator Rand Paul introduced the Invest in Our Communities Act, S. 2122, on October 1, 2015. The bill has many provisions seeking to provide some much sought-after reform including making the EB-5 regional center program permanent. Specifically, the legislation contains the following key points:
- Provides that derivative family members are eliminated from EB-5 visa number count.
- Removes the per country quota for the EB-5 category.
- Adds additional visa numbers to the EB-5 category, thereby increasing the total visa allocation.
- Requires adjudication of petitions and applications to be made within 180 days of submission. Any requests for evidence must be issued within 30 days of receipt, and adjudication must occur within 30 days after the response to the request for evidence is received.
- Provides for a number of integrity measures, including the following:
- Regional Center operators must have a clean record in general, maintained for the last five years.
- Regional Center principals must be either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
- Regional Centers may not be owned or administered by a foreign government.
- Background checks (with fingerprinting) are required of Regional Center principals.
- Regional Centers must certify compliance annually as it relates to securities compliance, but an option to cure is available if deficiencies are found.
- Failure to comply with securities attestations can result in the suspension or termination of the Regional Center.
- Requires that a report to the Committee on the Judiciary of the House and Senate be prepared two years from the enactment of the Act detailing the percentage and types of completed and pending projects; whether Federal financial assistance is given to the project; and whether market demands exceed visa allocation.
- Protects the “child” status of an individual, such that if a petition is terminated, the individual may still be considered a child if the parent files another petition within one year and the “child” does not marry.
- Provides a mechanism for any person who is subject to suspension or termination due to the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security, to a hearing before an administrative law judge, with all facts and documents made available. The DHS has to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the suspension or termination was valid.
The bill seeks to reform many components of the program, and focuses on integrity measures for the program. A comparison of all four comprehensive bills thus far introduced in the 114th Congress. The bill introduced by Senator Flake is not included in this chart as it only relates to the targeted employment areas.