ITHACA, N.Y., Nov. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Senator Mike Rounds (R-ND), Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator John Cornyn (R-Tx) introduced a comprehensive EB-5 bill on 11/5/2019 marked S.2778 and called "Immigrant Investor Program Reform Act." The bill would overhaul the entire EB-5 regional center program with a 6-year program reauthorization to September 30, 2025.

New EB-5 bill introduced

Attorney Carolyn Lee, Principal of the firm Carolyn Lee PLLC  and Chair of American Immigration Lawyers (AILA) national EB-5 Committee provides an advance section-by-section bill summary.

Section 1. Short title; table of contents.

Section 2. Invest in American job creation. This is the meat of the bill covering 70 of its 87 pages reshaping the EB-5 regional center program. Below are 10 highlights:

  1. $1 million for Targeted Employment Area (TEA) investment
  2. $1.1 million for non-TEA investment
  3. 30% visa set aside (approximately 3,000) annually for TEAs, half for rural TEAs
  4. New TEA definitions replace high unemployment with opportunity zone
  5. Full-scale integrity reform including Intensified regional center reporting, certification, sanctions
  6. New lawful source of investor funds requirements including gift and loan restrictions
  7. New DHS fees including $50,00 per petition fee
  8. New limitations on judicial review
  9. Limited relief for investors in terminated regional centers
  10. New limited relief for visa-backlogged investors and family

Section 3. Transparency. This section delineates permitted communication between USCIS officials and stakeholders.

Section 4. Treatment of period for purposes of naturalization.  This section clarifies that investors' time in conditional residency counts toward the time requirement for naturalization.

Section 5. Concurrent filing of EB-5 petitions and applications for adjustment of status. This section would bring EB-5 in line with other employment-based visa petitions that allow for concurrent in-U.S. residency processing.

Section 6.  Parole status for petitioners and dependents awaiting availability of an immigrant visa. This is entirely new and provides relief for investors stuck in the visa backlog. Investor and family members waiting at least 3 years since petition filing would qualify for parole (entry) into the U.S. and work authorization while awaiting visa availability. 

This bill, if enacted, would supersede the EB-5 modernization regulations set to go into effect November 21, 2019. A significant wave of new statutory requirements would follow for regional centers, investors, promoters, and service providers.

Carolyn Lee has been advising clients and industry stakeholders on EB-5 legislation since 2012. Media contact: Carolyn Lee PLLC at (607) 200-3758. 

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