The Brookings Institution’s paper, “Improving the EB-5 Investor Visa Program: International Financing for U.S. Regional Economic Development,” is a thoughtful analysis of a very complex program.
As the trade association representing EB-5 Regional Centers that account for 95 percent of the capital flowing through the EB-5 program, IIUSA served as a resource for the report providing economic data and other relevant information.
We agree with the paper’s finding that the EB-5 program is an important economic development tool for state and local governments – particularly in an economy where traditional financing is hard to come by. The examples highlighted in the report of coordination between EB-5 Regional Centers and local economic development agencies show how EB-5 funding can help get important job-creating projects off the ground. All three examples cited are IIUSA leaders: CanAm Enterprises, Civitas Capital, and CMB Regional Centers.
While we do not agree with all of the specific policy recommendations in the report, we welcome a constructive dialogue about ways to strengthen the program and improve what can be cumbersome application and approval process.
IIUSA supports a number of program improvements included in the legislation passed by the U.S. Senate (S. 744), that would enhance the program’s capacity for economic impact by permanently authorizing the EB-5 Regional Center program, improving processing of EB-5 related applications and petitions, and providing additional tools to protect the integrity of the program.
It is also important to note that USCIS has already taken significant steps to address the complexity of the EB-5 program. For example, USCIS has created a new Immigrant Investor Program Office staffed by trained economists, experts in business and immigration law, as well as fraud and national security specialists. USCIS plans for all EB-5 related adjudications to be relocated to this office over the next several months. It is also actively building partnerships with other relevant government agencies to support administration of the EB-5 Program. These are all important step towards addressing the backlog of approximately 7,000 investor applications currently pending at USCIS which represent $3.5 billion in foreign direct investment.
We appreciate the Brookings Institution’s interest in the EB-5 program and look forward to an ongoing dialogue on how to maintain and improve the program as a driver of U.S. economic development and job creation – all at no cost to the taxpayer.