In early October, officials from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) and Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the national industry association overseeing EB-5 regional centers, met to discuss potential reforms to the EB-5 Visa Program. As we get closer to the December 7 Congressional extension deadline, CIS emphasized that its sole focus is to maintain the integrity of the program as intended in the congressional regulations. They aim to do this by expanding site visits to both new commercial and job-creating entities, being more vigilant of non-compliance and terminating programs that are in violation of program regulations, and developing an external engagement policy for EB-5 and other immigration category stakeholders.
IIUSA re-emphasized its commitment to CIS’s policies and priorities so that EB-5 regional centers and associated organizations can be more effective and in compliance with U.S. law. In that vein, they have published a best practices guideline, as well as provided substantial resources online, for EB-5 regional centers and prospective foreign investors to reference as they go through the process. However, IIUSA suggested that more communications and transparency, particularly of data and timelines about the visa adjudication process, were needed from CIS and other government offices. Some specific concerns that IIUSA expressed was lack of clarity in the EB-5 regulations about redeployment of immigrant investor funds once a project has been completed, the length of time required for immigrant investors to keep money in a specific project, and the types of protections available to all parties concerned as a project goes from development to resale. CIS recommended that IIUSA, to provide policy recommendations so that Congress can consider positive reforms that will address on-the-ground realities.
The two sides also agreed to regular, quarterly meetings to discuss ongoing issues and practical solutions, as well as to finding ways to partner nationally. They agreed that increased oversight, a more capital markets approach, and more clarity and integrity of the EB-5 visa program were top priorities.
The San Diego EB-5 Regional Center recognizes the importance of immigrant and foreign investors to greater economic development of the region. We recognize the positive effects of the program, and with additional clarity and oversight, we anticipate a successful, compliant partnership between public and private entities that will provide investors both assurance and a return on their financial contributions. We are not alone in this effort -- the San Diego region is one of hundreds of regional centers around the U.S. and the EB-5 visa program is one of a number of immigrant investor programs globally. Read about one EB-5 center’s take on the program and learn about 25 other immigrant investor programs around the world.