Days Before Program Expires, Leahy & Grassley Urge Support for Legislation to Reform & Extend Job-Creating Foreign Investment Program
WASHINGTON – The job-creating immigrant investor visa program, known as the EB-5 Regional Center program, is set to expire in just one week if Congress does not move to reauthorize it.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) are urging Congressional leaders to support a bipartisan, bicameral proposal that would provide much-needed reforms to the program and reauthorize it for four years.
“The EB-5 program is not working how it was intended to by Congress. The EB-5 program has serious vulnerabilities, is loaded with fraud and abuse, and isn’t nearly the job-creator it has been purported to be. We need to be sure that the EB-5 Regional Center program is not only creating economic stimulus and jobs in areas that need it the most, but also not jeopardizing the nation’s security or harming U.S. investors,” Grassley said. “The program needs an overhaul with the common sense reforms that we’ve put together in a bipartisan, bicameral way. The status quo is unacceptable.”
“The EB-5 Regional Center program has generated investment and created jobs in distressed communities, but the program is facing some pressing challenges. Reports of rampant fraud and abuse raise serious concerns and threaten the program’s mission. The incentives Congress established to spur investment in high unemployment and rural communities are also routinely abused, undermining a core objective of the program,” Leahy said. “The Regional Center should be reauthorized, but only if reformed. There is now bipartisan consensus around these reforms, and we cannot squander this opportunity.”
Since launching in 1993, this program has generated capital investment and created jobs across the country. But the program has also experienced significant problems in recent years, underscoring the need for Congress to restore the program to one that transforms local economies in impoverished areas as well as rural states.
To improve the program and ensure its reauthorization, Grassley and Leahy on Friday released the text of a carefully-crafted compromise with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and House Immigration Subcommittee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). The proposal modifies legislation the lawmakers unveiled earlier this year to bolster the Department of Homeland Security’s authorities to administer the program, and provide investors with greater protections and more information about their investments.
Additionally, the bipartisan proposal increases transparency and oversight and provides DHS the ability to proactively investigate fraud, both in the United States and abroad, using a dedicated fund paid for by certain program participants. It raises the amount of investment required and helps to restore the program to its original intent, by ensuring that much of the capital generated and jobs created occur in rural areas and areas with high unemployment.
The bipartisan compromise has the support of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), by far the largest association of regional centers and EB-5 stakeholders, as well as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
An outline of the bipartisan proposal can be found here. Text of legislation can also be found here.