EB-5 tem­po­rary ex­ten­sion ex­pected

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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 eco­nom­i­cal­ly­de­pressed 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.

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