Advocacy & Association Updates from the Desk of the Executive Director

Update from the Desk of the Executive Director

– Fall 2021 –

Dear EB-5 Community,


There is little sense in rehashing the events of June 24, 2021. The Senate failed to reach unanimity to pass a Regional Center Program reauthorization and that is that. Although the effort did not succeed, I am immensely proud of the association’s efforts. Whenever we do look back on that day, there are no regrets. IIUSA played every card dealt professionally, with acuity, and with the absolute best intentions for the entire EB-5 ecosystem: investors, their families, regional centers, developers, and local economies. On June 24, 2021, EB-5 reauthorization efforts faltered, but we did not fail and IIUSA’s work continued.

OUR COMMUNITY


But for COVID-19, we would be gathering in Orlando, Florida for our first in-person event in two years. Despite this summer’s reauthorization frustration our community was (and is) eager to continue its work and strengthen its relationships. The association quickly sold out of its sponsorship opportunities. Ticket sales, both foreign and domestic, were reaching new records. Engaging and educational panels were filled, and everyone was (and is) anxious to come together again.

Unfortunately, with the rise of the COVID-19 Delta Variant IIUSA was faced yet again with a difficult decision and we ultimately erred on the side of safety, opting to shift our fall event to a virtual gathering for the second year in a row.

Nevertheless, our community remains engaged and excited; eager to convene at the IIUSA Virtual EB-5 Industry Forum despite our distance and discuss old challenges and new opportunities, including the uptick in EB-5 direct investments. Virtual participation and interest are exploding setting the stage for IIUSA’s return to in-person events -and it WILL happen! – next year.

OUR STABILITY

Throughout the COVID-19 realities and the hurdles placed in every association’s path, IIUSA remains stable and strong. Our financial position is balanced. We carry no debt. Membership, admittedly, has seen growth in some areas and attrition in others, but overall remains a bedrock. I am particularly grateful for IIUSA’s Leadership Circle, representing a diverse number of regional centers and service providers. All are engaged, committed to their craft, and equally committed to the investors who underpin EB-5.

The association’s committees are equally active: communicating with USCIS, developing new ideas for new member outreach, and reforming old approaches to new event opportunities. IIUSA’s stability and strength, its balanced and pragmatic approach to public policy, and its fair dealing with all stakeholders earned new respect from federal policymakers and a cross-section of EB-5 groups in the United States and across the world.

OUR ADVOCACY

June 24th’s Senate vote and the Regional Center Program’s ensuing lapse reset the playing table. It forced EB-5 advocates from all corners to recall their tactics, reset their expectations, and rethink their strategies.

Over the past three years, IIUSA’s approach, for better or worse, has been straightforward, honest, and transparent. So, although the association needed to recalibrate its efforts, I insisted it did not adjust its attitude. Therefore, with shoulders squared and our goal still being an integrity-based and balanced reauthorized Regional Center Program, IIUSA took and supported the following steps.

  1. Following an emotional debrief with our partners in Senator Grassley and Senator Leahy’s offices we agreed the reauthorization matter needed time to rest. A year of yeoman’s work that brought the entire EB-5 community to the cusp of long-term stability was lost in a matter of seconds. No one was willing or able to reconstitute.
  2. During the balance of the summer, amidst the association’s planning and excitement for its Orlando gathering (see above!), IIUSA reexamined its legislative text, listened to other groups’ perspectives, and in early August agreed to support the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in its effort to arbitrate differing opinions.
  3. Meetings to discuss a renewed path forward among all EB-5 advocates began in earnest in mid-August; a laudable and honest effort led by the U.S. Chamber.
  4. IIUSA developed a “term sheet” of everything it would support in a new reauthorization bill, including most that were included in the Grassley/Leahy bill, such as integrity measures and important protections for good-faith investors, as well as other measures that IIUSA initially advocated for, including grandfathering investors to protect them from any future lapse, visa backlog relief, processing time reduction, and advanced parole.
  5. Other groups did the same and ultimately, the term sheets were synthesized as the first true “industry consensus bill” and sent back to Congress for its own reexamination.

Today, as the federal government’s fiscal year draws to a close, all EB-5 stakeholders collectively prepare to work with Senate and House offices to refine the bill to meet policy holders’ expectations and finally reauthorize the Regional Center Program by the end of 2021.

OUR FUTURE

I am an entrepreneur at heart. So, I am also an optimist and confidently say the association’s and the entire EB-5 ecosystem’s future is bright. I have never heard anyone say, let alone any elected official, they want the EB-5 Regional Center Program to permanently expire. Many people may have many opinions about how it’s rekindled, but rest assured everyone is focused on the same outcome. And now that there is a consensus around what is best for the program, that willingness to assure its viability becomes much more easily leveraged.

The Regional Center Program will not only be reauthorized, but it will also grow, and IIUSA will grow too. To that end, I am grateful to our members. And to those of you waiting on the sidelines, now is the time to join. Our community is strong. Our stability is unshakeable, and our advocacy has delivered the most promising possibilities for the EB-5 program since its inception.

YOUR QUESTIONS

If you have any questions about IIUSA’s events and benefits, community, business strategies, or advocacy please reach out by emailing info@iiusa.org. We have come a long way with great effort and it is about to pay off.

Sincerely,

Aaron Grau
Executive Director

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