Although it seems the
political environment in Washington, D.C. is more polarized than ever, at least
Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to agree on one thing recently:
the EB-5 permanent visa program has been a great success and deserves

The EB-5 Visa Program, also known
as the Immigrant Investor Program, offers foreign individuals the
opportunity to receive permanent United States visas (or, green cards) while at
the same time encouraging economic development and creation of jobs here at home.

The EB-5 Visa Program is
administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Agency
(USCIS) and provides some foreign nationals the option of avoiding the often
long and complicated standard green card application process through investing in a preferred U.S. commercial enterprise. The route to a permanent residency visa is
made easier by one of two options, both of which are based on ability of a
foreign investor to invest substantial sums of money in businesses in the
United States.

Option number one involves a
$500,000 investment in a Targeted Employment Area.  A Targeted Employment Area, as defined by
USCIS, is a rural area or one experiencing 150 percent of the nation's rate of unemployment.  The foreign investor must
also demonstrate that at least 10 full-time jobs have been created or
preserved as a direct or indirect result of the investment in the enterprise
within two years.

Option number two involves a
$1,000,000 put into the development of a business in the United States; the same job-creation requirements apply.

10,000 EB-5 visas are reserved annually for immigrants who successfully meet the requirements of
the EB-5 Program.  To date, the annual
allotment has never been met, although the Program has grown in popularity
since its inception in the early 1990s.  Just
over 4,000 EB-5 visas have been issued via the EB-5 Program in 2012.

The success and popularity of
the EB-5 Program led the U.S. House of Representatives last week to approve
reauthorization of the program for another three years, extending it through
September 2015.  The House voted 412-3 in
favor of keeping the program in place, and President Obama is expected to put
his signature on this important piece of legislation soon. 

The EB-5 Program was
conceived as a temporary program - in fact it has formally been known as the
"EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program" since it was first established - but it
has been extended every time it's been up for reauthorization.  With the political climate in Washington so
acrimonious this year, though, the fate of the program and some EB-5
development projects was somewhat uncertain. 
Ultimately, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were able to find
common ground in their support for the EB-5 Program and voted to reauthorize it
nearly unanimously.

Elected officials representing
views along the entire length of the political spectrum and business leaders
from across the country hailed the passage of the House bill extending the life
of the Program.  Several of the Program's
most prominent supporters, including a powerful House committee chairman, spoke
recently at an EB-5 conference in Southern California lauding the
reauthorization of the Program and expressed the hope that it will soon become
a permanent fixture within the United States' immigration laws.