Sen. Leahy, IIUSA ready to make EB-5 Regional Center Program permanent

03.29.11 | Archived

The most exciting news to report is that while IIUSA was on the road in California, attending the quarterly USCIS EB-5 Engagement, the Hon. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the Creating American Jobs with Foreign Capital Act (S. 642) – which would permanently authorize the EB-5 Regional Center Program – into the Congressional Record.  IIUSA is ready to work with all Program stakeholders to make that a reality, with an exciting announcement in that regard coming later today.

Mr. Bill Stenger, President, Jay Peak Resort, and IIUSA Director, spoke at the press conference that followed the introduction of the legislation.  CLICK HERE TO WATCH.  The following quotes are worth highlighting:

“Vermont’s regional center program is an economic engine for the state,” said Leahy at a news conference in Burlington. “In a small state like ours, economic success in one area is inevitably felt in other parts of the state. Making the EB-5 program permanent is just the start. We are working to modernize the program to handle the growth it has seen across the country in recent years. Vermont’s use of the program is a model of success, and other states have taken note.”

“Making the EB-5 program permanent should receive bipartisan support,” Leahy said. “Most people will agree that creating jobs and capital investment is a good, bipartisan goal. We faced some challenges in recent years as we tried to make the program permanent, but these were due to broader immigration politics, and a desire to fold all immigration reforms into a comprehensive package. These are political challenges and not policy problems.”

We at IIUSA agree 100% and are ready to organize Program stakeholders behind this just mission.  Anyone who would like to JOIN US, please CLICK HERE for more info.

The legislation was also featured on MSNBC.com.  CLICK HERE TO VIEW.

The Honorable Senator also included a glowing statement about the EB-5 Regional Center Program, as follows:

Mr. LEAHY: Mr. President, today I am introducing the Creating American Jobs Through Foreign Capital Investment Act. This bill does one simple thing: It makes the EB-5 regional center program permanent. The EB-5 Regional Center Program has been highly successful since its inception in 1992, but it has always lacked the security of assured continuity. Extending the program by a few years at a time hampers the growth of the program and creates a disincentive for immigrant investors to bring their capital investments to the United States. EB-5 regional center programs have drawn jobs and millions of investment dollars to struggling communities and regions of our country. We can expand these job-creating programs and allow new regional centers to compete for investments with quality projects–if the EB-5 authorization is made permanent in law.

 

The State of Vermont and Vermont entrepreneurs recognized the potential of this program early on, and Vermont gained regional center status in 1997. Our State and the Vermont entrepreneurs who took advantage of the regional center planned their projects with great care. As a result, both the State and our entrepreneurs have successfully attracted investors and created jobs. Other states have taken note of Vermont’s success, and today there are now about 135 designated regional center programs across the country, which are creating jobs in States like Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, and New York, to name just a few.

 

A regional center program is an economic engine for the state or region in which it is located. In a small state like Vermont, the economic activity generated by EB-5 projects at resorts like Jay Peak and Sugarbush has created direct jobs in those communities. Some of those jobs are for the construction and expansion phase, and others are for long-term employees of the resorts. These resort expansions bring more tourists to Vermont to enjoy skiing and summertime activities. Then there are the multiplier effects of these projects. Our visitors spend money while skiing and touring Vermont, supporting other Vermont businesses with every purchase they make. The economic activity is not limited to tourism, and there are other innovative projects in the pipeline in Vermont–projects like biotechnology; water purification; and manufacturing. Because the entire State of Vermont is a designated regional center, there is great potential for diversity both in terms of projects and geographic location.

 

The Regional Center program attracts foreign investors seeking legal permanent residency and a chance to invest in the American economy. Investors must pledge a minimum of $500,000 to a project within a Regional Center, and they independently apply for EB-5 visas. If approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration, USCIS, foreign investors are granted conditional 2-year green cards. After 2 years, these investors must provide proof that they have created at least 10 jobs as a result of their investments, and that they have met additional investment requirements set by USCIS.

 

The Federal Government authorizes approximately 388,000 green cards each year. Out of that number, only 10,000 annually are reserved for the EB-5 program. The vast majority of the green cards issued by our Government are family-based and available to anyone who meets the admissibility criteria, irrespective of personal wealth. It is true that this program requires a significant up-front investment from a prospective immigrant, but that does not disadvantage others who wish to become permanent residents. Most importantly, that investment directly benefits American communities and workers at no cost to American taxpayers. Similar programs have long yielded extraordinary economic benefits for the people of Canada, Australia and other countries.

 

There is virtually no substantive opposition to the EB-5 program. Most elected officials will agree that creating jobs and capital investment is a good, bipartisan goal.

 

The bill I introduce today makes the program permanent, but I am also working on a broader package of improvements to the EB-5 program to modernize it and ensure it operates efficiently, and as Congress intended. We must make sure that the immigration agency has the tools it needs to keep the program free from fraud and abuse. We must offer stakeholders an efficient process with fair standards so that they have confidence in the program. I am developing legislation in consultation with stakeholders and agency officials to make changes that will bring about lasting improvements for everyone involved.

 

The EB-5 regional center program is one small corner of our overall immigration system–and it is one that generates tangible, ongoing economic benefits for Americans in the form of jobs and capital investment in local communities. It is an American success story, and we can build on its success with a continuing charter, with careful cultivation, and with appropriate oversight.

 

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

 

There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

 

S. 642

 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Creating American Jobs Through Foreign Capital Investment Act”.

 

SEC. 2. PERMANENT REAUTHORIZATION OF EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER PROGRAM.

Section 610 of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (8 U.S.C. 1153 note) is amended–

 

(1) by striking “pilot” each place such term appears; and

 

(2) in subsection (b), by striking “until September 30, 2012”.

 

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