EB-5 Regional Center Program Extended Until September 30, 2015

by Perkins Coie
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On September 28, 2012, President Barack Obama signed bipartisan legislation extending the EB-5 Regional Center Program for an additional three years.  The new sunset date for the program is September 30, 2015.  Additionally, the legislation removed the word “pilot” from Section 610 of Public Law 102-395 (Oct. 6, 1992) when describing the program.  The legislation had initially been introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) into the U.S. Senate on May 24, 2012 as Senate Bill 3245.  Following several amendments, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the bill on August 2, 2012.  The U.S. House of Representatives subsequently approved the legislation on September 13, 2012 in a nearly unanimous decision (412-3).

Upon approval of the bill by the U.S. House of Representatives, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary and an outspoken proponent of the EB-5 Regional Center Program, released a statement saying that, “The regional center pilot project, which is almost two decades old, has reinvigorated the investor visa program.  Investment through a regional center is especially attractive to potential investors because they are relieved of the responsibility of running a new business.  They can also count indirect job creation toward the job creation requirement.”

Additionally, Senator Leahy, the original sponsor of Senate Bill 3245, stated, “Congress now has acted to continue the job-creating benefits that these investments have brought to so many communities.  This is another step toward my goal of a permanent charter and other lasting improvements for the program.  Its growth and popularity needs to be met with updates to the existing law.  This new three-year charter starts that process.”

“Now that Congress has reauthorized this program for another three years, I will renew the ongoing work to give USCIS the tools it needs to keep this program a strong, secure and vital part of our economy, and to give developers and investors an even stronger framework to spur capital investment and create jobs,” Leahy said.  “With our long history and tradition of welcoming new Americans, our country should continue to foster and strengthen our immigration through investment programs as other countries like Australia and Canada have done.”

The EB-5 Regional Center Program, administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is a program created by Section 610 of Public Law 102-395 (Oct. 6, 1992).  EB-5 requirements for an investor under the EB-5 Regional Center Program are essentially the same as in the standard EB-5 investor program, whereby the EB-5 investor (foreign national) is granted lawful permanent residence in the United States in exchange for an investment of $1 million (or $500,000 in special certified circumstances) in qualifying U.S. businesses that, in turn, create or preserve at least 10 jobs in the United States.  However, the EB-5 Regional Center Program provides for investments that are affiliated with an economic unit known as a “regional center,” as opposed to a traditional business.  Investments made through regional centers can take advantage of a more expansive concept of job creation, including both “indirect” and “direct” jobs.  Regional centers are geographical areas for which USCIS has determined that investments will create the necessary 10 jobs per EB-5 investor, whether directly or indirectly, in the regional center’s approved geographical area.  Since its inception, the EB-5 Regional Center Program has attracted more than $1 billion in foreign investment to the United States and created thousands of new domestic jobs.  There are now over 240 regional centers in the United States, with many new applications pending.

Read the text to the full bill.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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