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House Panel to Consider Proposed Changes to Investor Visa Program

Legislative Activity

House Panel to Consider Proposed Changes to Investor Visa Program

This week, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to consider changes to the EB-5 investor visa program proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS).  The EB-5 program is designed to bolster the U.S. economy by incentivizing investment from foreigners in exchange for legal permanent residence.  The program was extended with the passage of the Continuing Resolution last year, but is set to expire with the measure at the end of April.  Some lawmakers have called for the program to be overhauled to address concerns with fraud, among other issues; Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation (S. 232) earlier this year that would terminate the program entirely.  S. 232 is cosponsored by Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

On January 13, 2017, DHS published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments on proposed amendments to its regulations governing the EB-5 program.  According to DHS, “[t]his proposed rule would change the EB-5 program regulations to reflect statutory changes and codify existing policies. It would also change certain aspects of the EB-5 program in need of reform.”

Among other things, the DHS proposal would:

  • Increase the minimum investment required in so-called “targeted employment areas” (TEAs) – rural areas or those with high unemployment rates – from $500,000 to $1.35 million, and from $1 million to $1.8 million in other areas;
  • Transfer the authority to define TEAs from the states to DHS; and
  • Amend the TEA designation criteria to allow for greater designations at the city or town level.

DHS will be accepting comments on the proposed amendments through April 11, 2017.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Wednesday, March 8, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness has scheduled a hearing titled “The Current State of U.S. Army Readiness.”
  • On Wednesday, March 8, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces has scheduled a hearing titled “An Independent Fleet Assessment of the U.S. Navy.”
  • On Wednesday, March 8, the House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “The Department of Homeland Security’s Proposed Regulations Reforming the Investor Visa Program.”
  • On Wednesday, March 8, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Air Transportation in the United States in the 21st Century.”
  • On Wednesday, March 8, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies has scheduled a hearing titled “Investing in America: Funding our Nation’s Transportation Infrastructure Needs.”
  • On Wednesday, March 8, the Senate Homeland Security Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing on the expected nomination of The Honorable Elaine C. Duke to be Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security.
  • On Thursday, March 9, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has scheduled a Members’ Day hearing.
  • On Thursday, March 9, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection has scheduled a hearing titled “The Current State of DHS Private Sector Engagement for Cybersecurity.”
  • On Friday, March 10, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces has scheduled a hearing titled “The Effect of Sequestration and Continuing Resolutions on Marine Corps Modernization and Readiness.”
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About this Author

Ludmilla L. Savelieff, Policy Attorney, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm

Ludmilla Savelieff draws on her experience in both domestic and international policy to assist clients on a variety of regulatory, legislative, and legal matters.

Prior to law school, Ms. Savelieff was the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where she gained first-hand experience in the daily operations of the Executive Branch. While at the Council, she worked closely with the Chairman and his team of policy advisors in the development and management of significant Administration policies and...

Clark Kent Ervin government investigations partner Squire Patton Boggs Lawyer

As a member of the Government Investigations & White Collar Practice Group, Clark K. Ervin helps clients under investigation, or facing the prospect of investigation, by federal Offices of Inspector General, to craft, coordinate and implement strategic defenses. An integral member of the firm’s Homeland Security, Defense and Technology Transfer team, as well as our International Policy Practice, Clark also provides invaluable counsel to clients, both corporations and foreign sovereigns, on issues of national security and foreign policy.

Having served as Inspector General of three federal agencies during the administration of President George W. Bush, Clark brings extensive experience and notable expertise to the firm’s Government Investigations & White Collar Practice. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the very first Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and from 2001 to 2002, as the Inspector General of the Department of State (State) and, simultaneously, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the global media arm of the United States government.

In addition to counseling clients facing Inspector General-led investigations, Clark’s work focuses on other executive branch, congressional and internal corporate investigations, and he plays an active role in the firm’s dealings with State Attorneys General, applying knowledge gained while he served the State of Texas as Assistant Secretary of State and a Deputy Attorney General during then Governor George W. Bush’s administration. In this capacity, he represents clients being investigated by State Attorneys General and he also advocates clients’ policy positions to State Attorneys General. Finally, drawing on his experience at State and DHS, Clark counsels clients on cybersecurity matters and immigration-related matters, including the EB-5 Program.

Clark also has considerable expertise in monitorships. In May 2016, the US Department of Education approved Zenith Education Group’s (Zenith) selection of the firm, with Clark leading the team, as the Monitor with respect to certain provisions the department required Zenith to comply with as a condition of its approval of Zenith’s acquisition of some formerly for-profit colleges owned by the now defunct Corinthian Colleges. In July 2016, the US Department of Justice and the City of Ferguson selected the firm, with Clark leading the team, as the Monitor with respect to the Ferguson Police Department’s and the city’s municipal court system’s compliance with the terms of a consent decree. He also counsels companies on compliance-related matters.

In 2008, Clark served as the co-chairman of then President-elect Barack Obama’s Transition Team for DHS, adding to the experience he gained while previously serving as the department’s first Inspector General. From its inception in 2008 to its expiration in September 2011, Clark, an appointee of then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, served as one of the eight members of the independent, bipartisan congressional Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clark’s government experience is complemented by his policy expertise. Since leaving DHS in 2004, Clark has been affiliated with the Aspen Institute, where he founded and chairs the Homeland Security Program. In this capacity, Clark convenes policymakers and thought leaders in homeland security and counterterrorism with a view to helping shape the policy debate.