This bill would reform immigration law to make the EB-5 immigrant investor program permanent. Created in 1990 as part of the House of Democrats’ “Make it in America” initiative, this program was designed to boost the U.S. economy through job creation and investment by foreign entrepreneurs, but is set to expire in September of 2016. The Regional Center Program (as the Immigrant Investor Program is also known) grants EB-5 visas to immigrants investing in commercial enterprises associated with designated regional centers in the U.S. in order to stimulate the economy.
In order to apply for these green cards, foreign investors must invest at least one million dollars in a qualified American business or 500,000 dollars in a designated Target Employment Area (TEA) in the U.S. These cover rural areas (“any area outside a metropolitan statistical area or outside the boundary of any city or town having a population over 20,000”) and/or regions of high unemployment (unemployment of at least 150 percent national average). The investor must also plan to create or preserve at least ten permanent full-time jobs (35 hours per week minimum) for American workers within two years of his or her admission into the U.S. as a Conditional Permanent Resident.
In addition to making the EB-5 program permanent, this bill would introduce a host of reforms to improve the program itself. These would include:
Eliminating per country limits for employment-based immigrants;
Increasing per country limits for family-based immigrants (spouses and children under 21 of investors);
Increasing the number of TEAs;
Allowing states to make TEA designations;
Requiring U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to rule on EB-5 applications within 180 of applicant’s filing unless further information is required;
Establishing systems to make Regional Centers more resistant to fraud.