Coming out of the tumultuous year of 2020, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has continued to face hardship and uncertainty in the first half of 2021. The EB-5 Regional Center Program, an integral part of the popular residency-by-investment program, is slated for termination on the sunset date of June 30, 2021, following its separation from the omnibus funding bill it had traditionally been paired with. While the termination of the regional center program wouldn’t spell the end of the EB-5 program itself, it could have drastic effects on those with EB-5 investments and others in the EB-5 industry. Considering the plethora of positive impacts the program has had on the U.S. economy, the victims of regional center program termination would be many indeed.
EB5 investment stakeholders are no strangers to the flaws in the EB-5 program, despite its overwhelmingly positive effects for the United States. Short-term reauthorizations of the regional center program, unreasonably long processing delays, retroactively applied rule changes imposed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and isolated cases of fraud that taint the entire name of the EB-5 program constitute the most egregious examples. Many in the EB-5 investment industry understand that securing reauthorization will be difficult without serious reform—and that’s why they’ve lobbied behind the proposed EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act.
What Is the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act?
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont co-sponsored the bill, which was introduced to the Senate in late 2019. Another version was introduced to the House by Greg Stanton (D-AZ) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Both duos showcase the bipartisan nature of the EB-5 program, which offers benefits to politicians all over the political spectrum. The bill proposes a number of integrity measures to the EB-5 program, designed to tighten regulations and crack down on fraud while implementing stronger protections for good-faith investors and developers. Among the proposals is long-term reauthorization for the regional center program—if the bill passes, it would see the EB-5 Regional Center Program reauthorized through 2026.
With just a month left before the regional center program’s looming sunset date, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act has gained more bipartisan support, boasting 13 co-sponsors in Congress as of May 28, 2021. With six Democrats and seven Republicans, the bill has almost equal support from both parties despite the ever-growing polarization in the general political landscape, which speaks volumes for the EB-5 program’s value to the United States.
Much of the EB-5 investment world has similarly embraced the bill, with industry trade association group Invest in the USA (IIUSA) dubbing it the only path to reauthorization. Some industry stakeholders are reluctant to endorse the bill, holding out for the possibility of superior reform proposals. However, given the precarious situation of the EB-5 Regional Center Program and the damage that could be caused by its termination, support for the bill as a short-term solution is encouraged.
How You Can Help
If you’re in the United States—whether you’re an EB-5 regional center, a U.S.-based project developer, or a foreign national on an H-1B visa or another temporary visa, you can reach out to your representative and voice your support for the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act. Remind your local congressional representative or senator of the myriad merits of the EB-5 program, including the more than $41 billion the program has funneled into the U.S. economy and the 820,000 new jobs it has created for U.S. workers. Highlight the win–win nature of the EB-5 program, which allows project developers access to high-quality capital, creating new U.S. jobs at zero cost to the U.S. taxpayer, and enables immigrants eager to contribute to U.S. society the chance at a better life in the United States. The termination of such a valuable program would be unconscionable, and time is running out. But you can help—all voices matter.
If you’re a foreign national on a nonimmigrant visa, you may be hesitant to reach out to the political representatives in your area, but don’t be. Though you can’t vote, you’re still a constituent, and your voice can still contribute to the larger movement. Find your congressional representative by entering your ZIP code on the U.S. House of Representatives website, and find your senator by selecting your state on the U.S. Senate website. Many voices together can make a difference, so don’t hesitate to contact your representatives and make your opinion known.