Another Temporary Extension for the EB-5 Regional Center Program
On Wednesday, December 15th, Congress temporarily extended the EB-5 Regional Center Program for a second time this fiscal year as part of an Omnibus Spending Bill . This temporary extension gives the program a reprieve until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2016. As we have previously reported, the EB-5 Regional Center Program was set to expire on September 30, 2015, when it was extended through a temporary government funding bill until December 11, 2015. The current extension will be included as part of the larger omnibus appropriations bill that is anticipated to be passed on Friday, December 18th, after Congress missed the original December 11th deadline.
Notably, this most recent extension comes with no changes to the program. Hotly debated reforms concerning minimum investment amounts, definitions for Targeted Employment Areas, and other aspects of the Program have not yet been instituted. According to the National Law Review, all I-924, I-526, and I-829 petitions will continue to be accepted, processed, and adjudicated as normal, until a new reform bill is passed or until the program’s sunset on Sept. 30, 2016.
While it is probable that the House and Senate will again renew the Regional Center Program next September (the program has already been renewed six times, not including this year’s temporary extensions), many changes to the Program loom on the horizon. Six re-authorization bills are currently under consideration, and most include reforms to enhance oversight, increase regulatory compliance, and make the program more efficient. (Read our comparison of the bills currently before Congress here). Though it is unknown which changes will ultimately be made, reforms to the Program are highly likely.
While some members of the EB-5 community are satisfied with an extension that leaves the Program untouched until next September, others are disappointed that it has not been reformed and re-authorized for a longer period of time. For instance, Invest In the USA (IIUSA)—a national not-for-profit industry trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center Program—has stated on its web site that it is “disappointed that Congress did not take this opportunity to pass a long-term reauthorization and reform package.”
By contrast, the EB-5 Investment Coalition (EB-5 IC)—a broad-based organization of businesses, industry leaders, trade associations, and elected officials mobilized around reauthorizing and strengthening the EB-5 Regional Center Program—lauds the extension, as it allows extra time for concerned parties to work out some of the more controversial details of the Program. In November, 2015, the EB-5 IC and other members of the government and EB-5 community – including the Real Estate Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce – provided feedback and comments on a discussion draft produced by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees meant to expand upon S.1501, a Senate bill that was introduced in June, 2015. (S.1501, The American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act of 2015, seeks to re-authorize the program for five years and to institute sweeping reforms that will enhance oversight, increase accountability, raise the minimum investment amount, and ensure that much of the capital generated and jobs created occur in rural areas and areas with high unemployment.) However, the specifics were not ironed out by December 11th, leading EB-5 IC and its partners to request a one-year extension of the current Program with added “integrity measures.” EB-5 IC Board Members Laura Foote Reiff and Jeff Campion thanked Congress’ EB-5 “champions”—including Senators Cornyn, Flake, and Schumer, and Congressman Sessions—for their efforts to make the program stronger and to represent the interests of all parties involved.
Over the next 10 months, members of the EB-5 community will continue to work with Congress to ensure that meaningful reforms take place. In the meantime, given the uncertainty over the future of the program, anyone looking to get into the EB-5 space should act quickly. Whichever legislation ultimately passes, petitioners filing I-526 petitions and I-924 amendments before September 30th, 2016 will likely be grandfathered under the existing law and thus exempt from any additional requirements, such as increased investment thresholds, should they be instituted.
Developers and business owners seeking EB-5 funding should enlist a team of skilled EB-5 professionals, such as the e-Council Inc.com team, to produce compliant EB-5 documentation for USCIS approval. e-Council Inc. is an experienced, full-service company with a long track record of successfully guiding its clients through the complex EB-5 process. Our team includes attorneys, researchers, and other professionals who specialize in providing due diligence services that will equip developers and business owners with the information needed to assess a project’s viability and likelihood that it will pass USCIS scrutiny.
If the project proves feasible, e-Council Inc. can create a Matter of Ho-compliant business plan and other documents designed to support the EB-5 application in a relatively short span of time. Once all the necessary materials and information have been provided, our team can produce a Matter of Ho-compliant business plan in four to six weeks.
Whatever reforms are ultimately passed, if any, we hope that they will represent and protect all stakeholders in the EB-5 industry.
 http://therealdeal.com/blog/2015/09/...ing-for-eb-5/; http://www.ballardspahr.com/alertspu...ion-bill.aspx; https://iiusa.org/blog/government-affairs/us-congress/key-senators-introduce-bill-extend-improve-eb5-program-stephen-yaleloehr/
This post originally appeared on e-Council Inc. Reprinted with permission.
Lauren A. Cohen, Esq. a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, is an attorney licensed in both the U.S. and Canada, and is an active AILA member. Lauren is a sought-after speaker with a stellar track record of success. Lauren has first-hand knowledge of the visa process, having herself immigrated from Canada. After spending several years working as corporate counsel in various industries while delving into the field of immigration law, Lauren decided to combine her legal knowledge and business acumen. The result is e-Council Inc., a company focused on designing professional Business Plans and offering a wide range of ancillary services for all types of business visas, with a special focus on turnkey EB-5 solutions for direct investment and regional center cases.