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Congress Poised to Extend EB-5 Regional Center Program Until September 30 Without Changes

Congress is poised to extend the EB-5 regional center program through September 30, 2017, without any changes. Here is how we got to this point:

On April 28, 2017, the U.S. Congress passed a one-week stopgap funding bill to prevent a government shutdown and the expiration of the EB-5 regional center program. The continuing resolution keeps the U.S. federal government open through May 5, 2017, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continues to accept Form I-526 petitions based on investments through EB-5 regional centers through that date.

Behind the scenes, members of Congress and their staffs are negotiating an EB-5 reform package to include in the larger funding bill. The key issues concern: (1) raising the minimum investment amount from the current $500,000; (2) revising the definition of what constitutes a “targeted employment area” to allow certain investments at the minimum investment level; (3) establishing visa “set-asides” for investments in certain rural and truly distressed urban areas; and (4) establishing effective dates for the changes.

Congress is close on all these issues. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) is circulating one discussion draft; Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) have circulated a similar discussion draft. Neither draft has been officially introduced; thus, they are not public.

It appears unlikely that Congress will be able to finalize an EB-5 reform package in time to include in the larger funding bill. On Sunday night, April 30, congressional leaders announced that they have finalized discussions on the key big-ticket items in the government funding bill, including more money for defense spending and border security. The funding bill is technically called an omnibus appropriations bill. The bill, H.R. 244, is available here. Section 542 of the bill includes a clean extension of the EB-5 program until September 30.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 244 on Wednesday. The bill will then proceed to the Senate with time to meet the deadline for approval by midnight Friday.

Given that the omnibus appropriations bill has already been introduced, it is hard to see how an EB-5 reform package could be included as an amendment to H.R. 244. It is more likely that Congress will extend the EB-5 regional center program without changes until September 30, as the bill already provides. During that time congressional negotiators will try to agree on final changes to the EB-5 program. Stay tuned.

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About this Author

Steve Yale-Loehr, Miller Mayer, employment-based immigration matters lawyer
Of Counsel

Steve Yale-Loehr is an Attorney Of Counsel in Miller Mayer’s Immigration practice group. He brings 30 years of immigration law experience to bear in advising corporate and individual clients on a broad array of family- and employment-based immigration matters.

In addition to his work at Miller Mayer, Mr. Yale-Loehr is an active and internationally renowned member of the immigration law community. He teaches immigration and asylum law at Cornell Law School as a Professor of Immigration Practice. He also founded and was the original executive...

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Carolyn S. Lee, Immigration Attorney, EB-5 Lawyer, Miller Mayer, New York, Law firm
Partner

Carolyn S. Lee is a Partner in Miller Mayer’s Immigration practice group.

Ms. Lee is the Managing Partner of Miller Mayer’s EB-5 Immigration Group. Her practice focuses on EB-5 regional centers, developers, funds, and investors. Ms. Lee has been practicing immigration law at Miller Mayer for 14 years, developing her EB-5 practice for the past 10 years. Prior to joining Miller Mayer, Ms. Lee practiced corporate law in New York City.

Ms. Lee is currently the Co-Chair of American Immigration Lawyers (AILA) EB-5 Committee, and has previously served as Chair. She also serves on the Public Policy Committee of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the leading EB-5 trade association. Ms. Lee has been actively advising the industry on current EB-5 legislation, identifying priorities and drafting comments to S. 1501. Under her leadership, the EB-5 Committee has advanced important improvements to the EB-5 program reflected in the final USCIS EB-5 Policy Memorandum. Ms. Lee is a prominent national and international speaker on EB-5 matters and is considered a preeminent authority on EB-5 law.

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