Posts Tagged ‘EB-5’

EB-5 Investor and Three Other Popular Immigration Programs Set to Sunset September 30 Unless Reauthorized by Congress

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Once again we are at that time of year when four popular programs – the EB-5 “Regional Center” Visa Program, the Conrad 30 Waiver Program for Foreign Physicians, the E-Verify Electronic Employment Verification Program, and the Religious Workers Immigrant Visa Program – will sunset unless reauthorized by Congress. All four programs have been extended numerous times, but often at the last minute and without any change. This year, as in the past, the climate surrounding any kind of immigration legislation makes reauthorization – never mind change to the programs – uncertain and complex.  Let’s take a look at the EB-5 and the Conrad Waiver programs.

EB-5 Program

The EB-5 program has received significant negative criticism over the past several years; many believe the program needs major changes including increasing the minimum investment, addition of integrity provisions, and redefining the certain provisions, including what is a targeted employment area (TEA).  As of this writing, parallel efforts to extend the program are underway in both chambers of Congress.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, two bills have been introduced.  The first, H.R. 616, the “American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2015” would, in part:

  • make the Regional Center program permanent;
  • require EB-5 petition adjudication within 180 days;
  • exempt spouses and children of EB-5 immigrants from EB-5 admissions limits;
  • authorize concurrent adjustment of status filing;
  • eliminate the per-country limit for employment-based immigrants and increase the per-country limit for family-based immigrants.

The second bill, the “EB-JOBS Act of 2015,” would:

  • extend and reform the EB-5 program;
  • create a new green card category for entrepreneurs who establish start-up businesses;
  • create a new green card category for certain treaty investors who have maintained their status for 10 years;
  • create a renewable reserve of 10,000 EB-5 visas upon exhaustion of the initial 10,000.

In the U.S. Senate, S. 1501, “American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act of 2015,” would, in part:

  • reauthorize the Regional Center program for 5 years;
  • increase the minimum TEA investment from $500,000 to $800,000 and non-TEA minimum investment from $1 million to $1.2 million;
  • eliminate state authority to certify TEAs;
  • limit high unemployment areas/TEA to a single census tract; and
  • create several different restrictions on indirect job creation calculations.

It is expected that these legislative efforts will combine at some point to fast-track an extension so that Congress can take a vote when members return to Washington after the August recess.

Conrad 30 Waiver Program

The Conrad 30 Program permits each state to support up to 30 foreign physicians for a waiver of the J-1 two-year home residence requirement that attached to the foreign physician’s visa status in exchange for the doctor’s two-year service in a medically underserved area in the United States.

A bill introduced in the Senate, S. 1189, “Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Act,” would:

  • remove the sunset provisions;
  • clarify requirements of the physician National Interest Waiver classification; and
  • make technical fixes, including confirming the ability of J-2 spouses to change status to classifications other than H-4.

Three-Year Extension of EB-5, E-Verify, Religious Worker, and Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Programs

Friday, November 30th, 2012

On September 28, President Obama signed into law a bill that extended several immigration provisions for three years. They are: (1) the EB-5 Regional Center program, which permits immigrant investors to invest $500,000 in certain regional programs and obtain, if approved, conditional residency; (2) E-Verify, the Internet-based system operated by USCIS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA), which allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees; (3) the Religious Worker program, a immigrant “green card” visa category for nonminister special immigrant religious workers; and (4) the Conrad State 30 J-1 Waiver program, which authorizes each state to request waivers of the two-year home residency requirement to certain foreign medical graduates in change for providing primary patient care for three years in medically underserved areas. While a more ideal outcome for all programs would have been making them permanent, the three-year extension gives important peace of mind to those in process and involved with these programs.

Changes on the Horizon for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

Friday, June 24th, 2011

The Immigrant Investor Program, commonly referred to as the EB-5 Program, makes green cards available to eligible immigrant investors and their family members who invest $1 million in commercial enterprises that create at least 10 U.S. jobs (or $500,000 in targeted employment areas). At long last, the EB-5 Program may be undergoing significant changes in the upcoming months that will make the program more attractive to prospective investors. First created in 1990, the program has been plagued by changing interpretations, uncertainty, and slow processing times, leading many to call for its complete review. In May, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) responded, and promulgated proposed rules offering three fundamental changes to the way it processes certain regional center filings, but stopped short of a total overhaul.

The first change is a fast-track for applications of enterprises that are fully developed and ready to be implemented, with an option for premium processing to further accelerate the review. Premium processing guarantees processing within 15 calendar days. Second, USCIS proposes the creation of specialized intake teams comprised of economists and subject-area experts to review proposals, communicate directly with applicants, and streamline the resolution of issues without the need for formal requests for additional evidence (RFEs). Third, USCIS proposes an “expert decision board” comprised of economists and adjudicators and supported by legal counsel, to make decisions on new EB-5 regional center applications.

The proposal is available for public comment until June 17, 2011. Those who are interested in the EB-5 program are encouraged to weigh in.

Visas for Entrepreneurs — Current Considerations

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Over the last couple years, the immigrant investor program (also called the EB-5 program) has gained popularity and media attention as a viable option for those of means to obtain lawful resident status. Even those traditionally less-well-off financially have considered the program in light of ever growing immigrant visa backlogs and the devaluation of the dollar (which means fewer and fewer euros and yen are needed to meet the $1 million investment requirement (or $500,000 in certain cases)). Nevertheless, various issues have deterred would-be eligible applicants from applying for an investor green card including the uncertainly of USCIS interpretations of program requirements, and, more recently, USCIS’ fixation on the source and chain of custody of funds used for the investment.

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