The White House has just released a new report titled “Modernizing & Streamlining our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century,” which builds on the President’s executive actions of Nov. 21, 2014. This report provides for plans to improve the immigration system to modernize and streamline the processes for certain visa categories and to address security issues. The report also calls for plans to strengthen the United States’ humanitarian system by providing benefits for certain individuals.
The report specifically addresses the EB-5 program in important ways. The White House acknowledges that the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) has undergone significant changes in an effort to enhance the program’s processes and to improve its integrity, including the creation of a new team with expertise in economic analysis and specific EB-5 components, as well as the issuance of updated policy guidance to provide better clarity as to program requirements.
The White House recognizes that there is a need for additional enhancements and improvements to address the integrity and impact of the EB-5 program. Specifically, the White House recommends additional measures including enhancements to avoid fraud, abuse, and criminal activity; measures to ensure that the program is reaching its full potential in terms of job creation and economic growth; and recommendations to streamline the program to make it efficient and stable for participants in the program, including petitioners and Regional Centers.
The report announces that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has adopted the creation of a new protocol, announced previously, intended to insulate the EB-5 program from “the reality or perception of improper outside influence.” Further, the report reiterates the Secretary’s recommendations to Congress to provide the department with authority to deny or revoke cases based upon serious misconduct; prohibit individuals with past criminal or securities-related violations from program participation, and a mechanism to ensure regional center compliance with securities laws. It is notable that these recommendations are included in the bill that Senator Leahy and Senator Grassley introduced on June 3, 2015.
The report makes two specific recommendations. First, it announces that DHS will pursue rulemaking to improve program integrity, including conflict-of-interest disclosures by Regional Center principals, enhanced background checks and public disclosure requirements, and an increase in the minimum qualifying level of investment. The department will also pursue new regulations to improve adjudication of Regional Center applications. Second, the report announces that the State Department will amend guidance in the Foreign Affairs Manual to permit potential EB-5 investors to obtain visitor visas for the purpose of evaluating investment.
In addition, DHS will propose a parole program for entrepreneurs who “provide a significant public benefit.” The examples of “significant public benefit” include innovation and job creation through new technology development.