On Jan. 28, 2015, Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO) and Mark Amodei (R-NV) introduced the American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2015, which seeks to update and permanently authorize the EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa program. The bipartisan measure follows long-standing calls from numerous groups in the commercial, residential, hospitality, retail, and real estate industries to make the EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa program, currently due to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2015 (Sept. 30, 2015), a permanent feature of U.S. immigration law.
The new legislation, among other goals, aims to improve the EB-5 Program by addressing key administrative and substantive concerns with several key proposals, including:
- Improved definition of Targeted Employment Area (TEA) designations;
- Codification of current TEA designation authority, which rests with individual states;
- Permanent re-authorization of the program;
- Project pre-approvals to increase efficiency;
- Deference to prior rulings;
- Strong fraud and abuse deterrence in the area of securities compliance;
- Expedited processing options;
- The numerical incorporation of qualified immediate family members to ensure that they do not count against the annual quota;
- Applicability of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) regulations; and
- The promulgation of relevant regulations.
In 1992, the U.S. Congress introduced the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program in order to attract investment from qualified foreign investors and thereby encourage job creation and economic development in the United States. The EB-5 program provides Lawful Permanent Resident (green card) status to foreign national investor-entrepreneurs who invest at least $500,000 or $1 million in certain qualified American businesses or geographic areas and create a minimum of 10 jobs for Lawful Permanent Residents or U.S. citizens. Since 2005, the EB-5 Program has generated over $4.7 billion of investment in qualified U.S. projects, creating approximately 95,000 American jobs.
According to Rep. Polis, “The EB-5 visa program is an important tool that brings innovation and investment to the United States, and this bipartisan bill will improve and make permanent the program so that foreign investment and talent will continue to flow into our businesses, and strengthen our economy.” Similarly, Rep. Amodei described the new measure as part of a broader legislative effort to reform the U.S. immigration system, calling the bill “bi-partisan, pro-investment, pro-growth and pro-jobs.”