On May 26, 2021, a congressional hearing was held for Ur Jaddou, President Biden’s nominee to lead United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jaddou emphasized her commitment to reducing ever-increasing visa backlogs at USCIS. Jaddou’s nomination is one more move in a string of initiatives the Biden administration has taken to address inefficiencies in the U.S. immigration system since assuming office in January 2021. Previously, Biden introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, a large-scale reform of USCIS that proposes a number of substantial changes, including the abolishment of the country-based limit for annual visa allocations and recycling unused visas back to the same program in the following fiscal year. Still unpassed as of May 2021, the bill could revolutionize how USCIS is run and quash the lengthy backlogs of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program once and for all.
Who Is Ur Jaddou?
Jaddou is by all counts a qualified candidate to head USCIS, boasting a rich resume of credentials. Her career has been dedicated to improving the U.S. immigration system, formerly serving as majority chief counsel for the U.S. House Judiciary Subcomittee on Immigration and Citizenship. Previous posts also include acting as general counsel for USCIS and the director of DHS Watch, a registered 501(c)(3) that advocates for a “competently administered” immigration system.
Clearly, an efficient and properly organized immigration system is Jaddou’s passion, and previous USCIS leadership agrees with her nomination. Leon Rodriguez, who served as USCIS director when Jaddou was working as USCIS general counsel, called her “the most substantively prepared nominee in the history of the agency” and pointed to her previous role in the organization as evidence of her readiness.
Jaddou also has the backing of the USCIS employee union, with president Daniel Spooner suggesting that her knowledge and experience in immigration law will do wonders to address the current inefficiencies at the agency. Spooner is confident in Jaddou’s ability to introduce sensible policies that ensure appropriate security while supporting and facilitating immigration in a way that benefits all parties involved.
Jaddou’s Plans for USCIS
The May 26 nomination hearing explored Jaddou’s intended method for running USCIS. If nominated, she will have her hands full, inheriting an agency brimming with processing inefficiencies and insufficient funding—problems that those involved in EB-5 investments are no strangers to. When asked what her first priorities would be as head of USCIS, Jaddou declared she would work to bring the organization back to solvency, quash the backlogs, and modernize the U.S. immigration system with 21st-century tools.
Jaddou also highlighted her past experience at USCIS, which she noted would aid her in addressing the agency’s myriad inefficiencies. This past experience, she stated, gives her strong insight into which policies and guidelines need to be modified to create a better USCIS, allowing her to address the issues more effectively than a newcomer to the organization.
Jaddou’s Influence on the EB-5 Program
USCIS faced particular uncertainty and instability throughout the chaotic year of 2020, lacking a Senate-confirmed director since 2019. Thus, theoretically, the confirmation of any director could improve the situation for EB5 investment participants, but Jaddou is an especially valuable asset for EB-5 investors.
Jaddou’s dedication to ending the ever-increasing processing times and clearing up the backlogs should be good news for all EB-5 investors. Chinese and Vietnamese investors stand to benefit the most, as they have been stuck in lengthy backlogs for years, prohibiting them from starting their new lives in the United States despite having already made a successful EB-5 investment. Jaddou has the experience necessary to make this a reality, and her confirmation would likely bode well for EB-5 investors.
Of course, with the EB-5 Regional Center Program’s sunset date of June 30, 2021, looming ever closer, securing long-term reauthorization for the popular program should be the foremost priority for EB5 investment stakeholders. However, thinking ahead is also a good idea, and Jaddou’s nomination is a good omen for the future of USCIS as a whole, including the EB-5 program and the thousands of foreign nationals who have invested in the program to secure a brighter future for themselves and their children.