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

06.06.13 | Archived

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.


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.


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