Jun
17

Legislative Update: Comprehensive Immigration, and EB-5, Reform Takes a Step Forward in the Senate

Last Tuesday, in an 84-15 vote, the Senate moved to open formal debate on the comprehensive immigration overhaul bill, S. 744, which includes Senator Leahy’s EB-5 amendment.  IIUSA is pleased that the EB-5 amendment was included on S. 744, and is working tirelessly to get our substantive comments included in the final version of the legislation.  The is is the first test of what is sure to be many for the “Gang of Eight” legislation which passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated that he expects several weeks of deliberation before final votes on the bill are cast over this summer.

Advocates of immigration reform want a final vote to be at least 70 or more in hopes that an overwhelming vote will pressure House Speaker John Boehner to bring the bill to the House via the Hastert Rule.  It is still unclear how the House will proceed, but Speaker Boehner sounded hopeful that CIR would be passed in both chambers of Congress by the end of this calendar year.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW IIUSA’s SUBSTANATIVE COMMENTS ON THE EB-5 AMENDMENT ON S. 744

Jun
06

Advocacy Update: Leahy Amendment to S.744 & House SKILLS Act

As you know, Chairman Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) amendment to S. 744 passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee this month. The amendment seeks to permanently authorize and improve the EB-5 program.  IIUSA wrote a letter to Senator Leahy this week thanking him for his tireless efforts to include permanent authorization of the Program within comprehensive immigration reform efforts.  We also included comments for improvement of the amendment to further support IIUSA’s three point advocacy platform: 1. Permanent authorization for the Program, 2. Augmentation of available visas to employment-based visa categories must also include the EB-5 Program, 3. Fixing processing times at USCIS.  To read the comments IIUSA submitted to Senator Leahy, please click on the link below to view the letter in full.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE LETTER IIUSA SENT TO LEAHY

Another important piece of legislation concerning EB-5 is the Supplying Knowledge Based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act (H.R. 2131) also known as the SKILLS Visa Act.  This bill, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), is intended to spur job creation, economic growth, and American competitiveness by increasing and improving high-skilled immigration programs.  IIUSA is currenlty analyzing the proposed legislation, with formal comments to follow soon.

IIUSA Vice President, Robert Divine, makes some insightful comments regarding sections of the bill which concern EB-5 as well as explain their potential impact on the Program below:

Permanent RCs, and ends per country limits for all (ostensibly including EB-5), BUT:

· Raises minimum investment levels per CPI since 1990, which I believe changes $500,000 to about $850,000 immediately.

· Replaces I-829’s “reasonable time” flexibility with a rigid arrangement to delay I-829 adjudication one year and show the jobs by that point.

· Limits high unemployment TEAs to DOL-designated areas and methodology.

· Includes screening of persons “involved in” RCs, and requires certifications about securities compliance (seems similar to Leahy amendment).

· Dependant family members are still counted towards the annual EB-5 visa allocation.

· Capital: The bill states that ‘capital’ does not include any assets acquired, directly or indirectly, by unlawful means.” This seems to have no meaningful effect, given that USCIS already applies that notion.

· Effective date: The changes restricting TEA and increasing minimum capital are immediately effective to I-526s filed after enactment. This would immediately shut down every EB-5 project offering and destroy those that could not meet the new standards. Not clear if USCIS would consider existing published data to constitute DOL recognition of city and county TEAs, and given the need for DOL to clarify what other areas it might designate (probably through notice and comment regulations, followed by a designation process), no projects not already fitting city and county designations would qualify for a long time. The language says nothing about I-829s for investors with I-526s approved under old standards, and it needs clarity that old standards apply to all I-526s filed before enactment and to all I-829s for investors whose I-526s were approved under the old standards.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE PRESS RELEASE ON THE BILL

Jun
03

Leahy EB-5 Amendment to S. 744 Passed in Senate Judiciary Committee This Week

During the mark up of the bipartisan Gang of Eight legislation (S. 744) in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced an amendment to permanently authorize and improve the EB-5 Program.  IIUSA is glad to announce that the amendment passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning.  The amendment is a positive step forward for the Program, now officially included in the comprehensive immigration reform deliberations that still a long way to go in both the Senate and House.  In addition to permanency, Leahy’s amendment pushes for maximizing the Program’s visa capacity while protecting Program integrity and potentially putting processes in place that would address USCIS processing issues.  In response to the introduction of his amendment, IIUSA sent a letter to Chairman Leahy expressing gratitude and support for his leadership in this issue, as well as his colleagues Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Grassley (R-IA), Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Schumer (D-NY), and Ranking Member Cornyn (R-TX).

In the letter, IIUSA communicated to Chairman Leahy that permanent authorization for the Program is the single most important step for effectuating its full potential of creating jobs for U.S. workers and progressive regional development.  Short-term authorizations of three years is not sufficient for the Program because a lingering threat of expiring authorization creates an air of uncertainty surrounding the Program – thereby hindering its ability to induce capital formation and create jobs.  IIUSA also stated that the backlog of more than 7,000 un-adjudicated I-526 petitions at USCIS represents no less than 70,000 American jobs not created and $3.5 billion in foreign investor capital not invested in communities across the U.S. – even though $11 million in filing fees has been collected by USCIS on these backlogged investor applications.

IIUSA also applauded Chairman Leahy for including in his legislation provisions to ehance Program integrity.  Lastly, IIUSA stated its intention of providing substantive comments on the amendment based on member and stakeholder review the legislation for operational and policy implications.  Permanent authorization of the Program, maximizing visa capacity, and addressing USCIS processing issues are the three priorities in IIUSA’s currently approved advocacy platform.  The Leahy amendment addresses these issues, and gives the Program the certainty it needs to maximize its economic contribution to the U.S.  IIUSA is looking forward to building an active partnership with our cross-sector, bipartisant supporters in Washington (and around the country) and continuing our concerted effort towards supporting the continued success of the Program.

THANK YOU TO MEMBERS FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND EFFORTS DURING THIS FIRST PART OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS!  WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO… 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A COPY OF THE LETTER IIUSA SENT TO LEAHY IN RESPONSE TO HIS AMENDMENT 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE SECTIONAL SUMMARY OF THE LEAHY AMENDMENT

IIUSA ADVOCACY ALERT! SUPPORT SEN. LEAHY’S EFFORT TO PERMANENTLY AUTHORIZE THE EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER PROGRAM (delivered this week)

May
13

Senator Leahy Pushes for Permanent Authorization of the EB-5 Program in Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform Effort

During the mark up of the bipartisan Gang of Eight legislation (S. 744) in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced an amendment to permanently authorize and improve the EB-5 Program.   The amendment pushes for maximizing visa capacity while protecting Program integrity and would potentially put processes in place that should help with the USCIS backlog.  IIUSA is appreciative of Chairman Leahy’s leadership on this issue and will be sending a letter articulating this appreciation, while also commenting on some areas of concern.

This amendment, coupled with actions already underway at the new USCIS EB-5 Program Office in Washington, DC (which just opened this past Monday 5/6) instill hope towards alleviating the I-526 backlog at USCIS.  These provisions which are already being put into place in USCIS include hiring economists as adjudicators rather than immigration officers as had previously filled those positions, as well as designating “case agents’ who will be assigned certain clients to interact with Regional Centers via email or telephone to work through issues in order to minimize the need to issue requests for evidence (RFEs).  USCIS is also working on transitioning EB-5 petitions to its electronic filing system (ELIS) this summer, starting with I-526 petitions on a pilot, non-mandatory basis.

Permanent authorization of the Program, maximizing visa capacity, and addressing USCIS processing issues are the three priorities in IIUSA’s currently approved advocacy platform.  The Leahy amendment would address these issues, and give the Program the certainty it needs to maximize its economic contribution to the U.S.

Feedback from membership regarding the Leahy amendment is most welcome!  Email info@iiusa.org with any comments on the proposed amendment.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A COPY OF THE LEAHY AMENDMENT FOR PERMANENT AUTHORIZATION OF THE EB-5 PROGRAM

Apr
17

IIUSA Supports Provisions that Impact the EB-5 Regional Center Program in Bipartisan “Gang of Eight” Legislation

The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” in the U.S. Senate has filed its much anticipated proposal for comprehensive immigration reform (officially titled: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013).  The legislation still has a long way to go, with a series of hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee (with the first this Friday), the full amendment process, and floor debate coming up next before any vote.  The House, of course, also needs to pass corresponding legislation for comprehensive immigration reform to become the law of the land.  That all said, IIUSA is encouraged by this initial version of the legislation, and supportive of the language included in the initial bill that would impact the EB-5 Regional Center Program.  

IIUSA’s legislative priorities for the 113th Congress are all included in the current version of the legislation, by:

  • Permanently authorizing the EB-5 Regional Center Program;
  • Increasing the annual allocation of EB-5 visas; and,
  • Ensuring proposed new visa categories do not interfere with the Program.

These changes to the EB-5 Regional Center Program are most welcome by the industry, and would increase the Program’s capacity for capital formation and U.S. job creation in the years ahead.  Fiscal year (FY)2012 was record breaking for the Program, with approximately $2.0Billion in foreign direct investment accounted for – that will create 40,000+ American jobs at no cost to the American taxpayer.  FY2013 is off to a record-breaking start as well, with 2,450 investor applications filed in just the first four months.  

Peter D. Joseph, IIUSA Executive Director, will be visiting with Congressional Offices this week to discuss the detrimental I-526 backlog, currently costing the country investment and job creation, and the new “Gang of Eight” legislation.

****CLICK THE LINKS BELOW TO READ…****

FULL “GANG OF EIGHT” LEGISLATION - ONE PAGE SUMMARY - FAQ

Feb
15

Talk of EB-5 Success at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee of the 113th Congress hosted its first hearing on comprehensive immigration reform.  A diverse set of witnesses testified on various aspects of U.S. immigration policy.  While no witness represented the EB-5 Program specifically, it was referenced on a number of occasions.

Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) praised the Program in his opening remarks and specifically requested collaboration from Janet Napolitano, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, on improving the administration of the Program.  Senator Jeff Session (R-AL) also mentioned the Program as an example of U.S. immigration policy that emphasizes American economic interests.  Lastly, Steve Case, President, Revolution, LLC, (founder of America Online (AOL)), praised the Program in his opening remarks for the economic impact that it is having nationwide.

IIUSA remains deeply engaged with the process for potential immigration reform, and will continue to keep IIUSA members abreast of new developments and their potential impact on the Program.  The Senate hearing was the first of what will many on the topic of immigration before any legislation is formally considered.  The House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on the topic last week, with additional in the works.

Jan
31

Legislative Update: Prospects for Immigration, and EB-5 Program, Reform

The political environment resulting from the 2012 elections has made comprehensive immigration reform (“CIR”) a top priority for the 113th Congress.  There is a lot of media coverage this week on the various proposals and legislative frameworks that are coming together.  President Obama outlined his vision of immigration reform at a speech in Las Vegas.  The bipartisan “Gang of Six” from the Senate unveiled a framework that it had agreed upon involving border security, increased oversight of people overstaying visas, and path to citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally.  Lastly a bipartisan “high-skilled immigration” piece of legislation will be introduced this week by Senators Coons, Hatch, Klombochar, and Rubio – which would increase the availability of employment-based visas and eliminate the per-country cap.

All of the parties point to spring to have fully drafted legislative proposals with hearings and heated debate shortly thereafter, potentially followed by votes.  However, the House has not indicated if/when it will produce any bills to act as counterpart to the competing Senate proposals.  The last time CIR was attempted at this magnitude in 2007, the effort collapsed and nothing was passed.  If that happens again, it is likely a series of smaller pieces of legislation will be brought up for consideration in Congress.  In sum, expect a pointed debate over the coming months!

What does this all mean for the EB-5 Program?  IIUSA’s Executive Director and Government Affairs team visited Congressional Offices in DC last week to find out.  The IIUSA team met with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), including his Committee and Immigration Subcommittee staff.  We also met with staff from the Offices of Representatives Andrews (D-NJ)Diaz-Balert (R-FL), and Lofgren (D-CA); and, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Senators Cornyn (R-TX)Hatch (R-UT)McCain (R-AZ), and Menendez (D-NJ) – respectively.  All offices voiced their support for the EB-5 Program generally, and were glad to begin engagement with IIUSA, as the EB-5 Regional Center industry representative, on how EB-5 reform may be part of the comprehensive package.

Permanent authorization of the Program remains the central theme of IIUSA’s legislative platform, complemented by provisions that will maximize the Program’s capacity for economic impact and job creation in the U.S.  The Senate, under the leadership of Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley of the Judiciary Committee, will introduce and deliberate on an EB-5 reform package separate from the other packages being drafted currently.  It is useful to review S. 1986 from the 112th Congress, which has an EB-5 reform component attached as the last section that will act as the starting point for any new EB-5 legislation.

In addition to Congressional meetings, IIUSA met with SelectUSA, Department of Commerce, to discuss their ongoing involvement in the EB-5 Program as advocate for foreign direct investment inbound to the U.S. and through their ombudsman function.  Speaking of “ombudsman,” IIUSA also met with the newly appointed CIS Ombudsman, Maria Odom, and her staff to discuss the risks and opportunities that are emerging from USCIS’ transition of EB-5 adjudications to the DC EB-5 Program Office and the upcoming 3/5 EB-5 engagement designed to engage with the stakeholder community on these issues.

IIUSA is deeply appreciative of the interest and engagement from the various federal government stakeholders to make sure the EB-5 Regional Center Program has a permanent, efficient and effective future in capital formation and U.S. job creation.

Jan
02

Post-Election Report from DC: EB-5 in the 113th Congress

Now that the 2012 elections results are official, IIUSA is looking ahead to the 113th Congress that will take office in January 2013.  The results of the election have reinvigorated efforts to reform the U.S. immigration system from both Democrats and Republicans.  The White House has made it clear that economically oriented immigration reform will be a priority going forward, but only as part of a comprehensive effort (rejecting the House Republican efforts to pass H.R. 6429 during the current “lame duck” session).

When the debate on comprehensive immigration reform begins in the 113th Congress, re-authorization and reform of the EB-5 program will inherently be part of the discussion.  It is important to remember that Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has lead similar efforts in the past – including the reform bill that was included in S. 1986 during the 112th Congress (which never passed either chamber).

IIUSA is looking forward to engaging with Congress on these issues so we can make sure the next re-authorization of the Program is a permanent re-authorization, and that any reforms that are included are designed to enhance the Program’s ability to produce positive policy outcomes (i.e. capital formation, regional economic development, and U.S. job creation).

Oct
02

President Obama signed S3245 last Friday, making EB-5 Regional Center Program re-authorization official!

The three year re-authorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program is official, as of last Friday 9/28.  With President Obama’s signature, S. 3245 – after passing the Senate with unanimous support and the House by a margin of 412-3 – became Public Law 112-176.
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A big THANK YOU from IIUSA to all of our cross-sector partners that stood together for Program re-authorization, leadership/supporters in Congress, association leadership/government affairs team, and – of course – IIUSA members for all the hard work that went into extending this important and innovative U.S. job creation program!

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IIUSA remains committed to making the EB-5 Regional Center Program a permanent and successful part of the American economic development toolkit in the years ahead – through industry leadership, education, & advocacy.

Come celebrate the re-authorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program and join the discussion of “what comes next” at IIUSA’s next event (scheduled in conjunction with theUSCIS Quarterly EB-5 Engagement on 10/16) with 200+ EB-5 industry peers!

5th Annual IIUSA EB-5 Regional Center Economic Development Conference

Washington, DC: 10/14/12-10/16/12

**Advocate – Connect – Learn – Network – Participate**

**CELEBRATE!**

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

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Sep
13

House Passes S. 3245, Sends 3 Year Reauthorization of EB-5 Regional Center Program to President Obama for Signature!

At 6:31PM EST today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 3245 (412-3) – which includes a three year re-authorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program through September 2015.  Having passed by the Senate on August 2, the bill is now on its way to President Obama for signature – likely later this week.  Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), Immigration Subcommittee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA), and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) all spoke in favor of the EB-5 Regional Center Program re-authorization Tuesday on the floor of the House- with Chairman Smith citing IIUSA statistics in his support of the legislation.

IIUSA issued the following statement earlier this week via press release, welcoming the vote:

“Congress deserves a lot of credit for this one,” said Peter D. Joseph, IIUSA Executive Director. “Utilizing the macroeconomics of globalization, the EB-5 Regional Center Program offers an economic development tool to address weak local capital and labor markets in the U.S. A government program that generates economic growth and thereby tax revenue – with administration costs covered by user fees – is public policy built for the 21st century. Literally tens of thousands of U.S. jobs are at stake in this three year re-authorization.”

FY2012 is already a record breaking year of U.S. job creation and capital formation for the Program, with trends indicating more growth in the years ahead.  Twice as many investor applications have been approved in this fiscal year than all of the year before.

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A big THANK YOU from IIUSA to all of our cross-sector partners that stood together for Program re-authorization, leadership/supporters in Congress, association leadership/government affairs team, and – of course – IIUSA members for all the hard work that went into extending this important and innovative U.S. job creation program!

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IIUSA remains committed to making the EB-5 Regional Center Program a permanent and successful part of the American economic development toolkit in the years ahead – through industry leadership, education, & advocacy.

Come celebrate the re-authorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program and join the discussion of “what comes next” at IIUSA’s next event (scheduled in conjunction with the USCIS Quarterly EB-5 Engagement on 10/16)!

5th Annual IIUSA EB-5 Regional Center Economic Development Conference

Washington, DC: 10/14/12-10/16/12

**Advocate – Connect – Learn – Network – Participate**

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

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