EB-5 temporary extension expected

Updated: 2016-09-26 11:39

By Paul Welitzkin in New York(China Daily USA)

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The EB-5 investor immigrant program that is popular with Chinese is expected to get a temporary extension when Congress acts on legislation to fund the operation of the US government until Dec. 9.

Stephen Yale-Loehr, an attorney and Cornell University law professor, said a continuing resolution or "CR" as it is known, is likely to pass the Senate sometime next week and then go to the House. It has to win congressional approval by Sept 30 or the government will have to shut down.

"The EB-5 program will survive a few more weeks thanks to its inclusion in the continuing resolution. The continuing resolution will give congressional lawmakers time to try to negotiate an EB-5 reform package," Yale-Loehr emailed.

If the CR is approved, the weeks between Sept 30 and Dec 9 will set up a political fight over the future of the EB-5 program, which was created to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment.

EB-5 targets foreign investors who invest at least $500,000 in a project that creates a minimum of 10 jobs in an economically-depressed region. In return the investors receive a two-year visa with a good chance of obtaining permanent residency for them and their families. In 2014, the US issued over 10,000 of the visas and about 85 percent went to applicants from China.

"Stay tuned for an epic battle between urban legislators like Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat of New York), who wants to maintain the status quo, and rural legislators like Senators Chuck Grassley (Republican of Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (Democrat of Vermont) who are adamant about getting more EB-5 visas for rural projects," said Yale-Loehr.

US Representative Bob Goodlatte (Republican of Virginia), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is also seeking changes to EB-5. He and US Rep John Conyers Jr (Democrat of Michigan) have introduced legislation to reform EB-5.

Their bill would increase the minimum EB-5 investment to $800,000 from $500,000 for projects in high-unemployment areas. In low-unemployment areas, the minimum investment would rise to $1.2 million from $1 million.

The measure also "ensures that only truly rural and depressed areas will qualify for the lower investment level, along with military bases closed by BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure), and public infrastructure and manufacturing projects. In addition, 2,000 visas a year are set aside both for rural and for depressed areas", Jessica Collins, a deputy communications director for the House Judiciary panel said.

Grassley and Leahy talked about EB-5 on the Senate floor on Sept 22. "Both said they will not support a simple extension of EB-5 without reform. Leahy has made this clear many times earlier this year," David Carle, a Leahy aide wrote to China Daily.


(China Daily USA 09/26/2016 page2)