The EB-5 industry was dealt a major setback on June 24, 2021, when one senator objected to Senators Grassley’s, Leahy’s, and Cornyn’s request for unanimous consent for the Senate to pass S.831, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2021. It was a bipartisan bill designed to protect investors, assure the Program’s integrity, and secure its longevity. The objection prevented S.831 from being passed before the Senate adjourned for its Fourth of July recess, resulting in the EB-5 Regional Center Program’s lapse.
Since its inception in 1990, the EB-5 Program has served as a catalyst for hundreds of projects, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and was an impactful part of the country’s economic recovery after the 2008 recession. S.831 is truly a bipartisan bill that has widespread support among EB-5 stakeholders, particularly those who welcome changes to the Program that would improve oversight and accountability. Investors who have already placed their investments in our communities will now have to continue to wait for conditional green cards and the certainty of a long-term authorization.
Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the only non-profit trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center industry, is not only working on Capitol Hill to protect the Program but also working with U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) to get clarity on the process and investor priorities moving forward. This is the first time the Program has lapsed without a safety net of must-pass legislation. In previous Program lapses, USCIS was patient in making decisions on petitions, indicating an expectation of eventual reauthorization.
Although the Program lapsed, these bills are still pending in Congress and still benefit from industry support and continually growing bipartisan Congressional sponsorship. Currently, over 25 members of the House of Representatives are sponsors or cosponsors of H.R. 2901, S. 831’s House companion bill. There is great confidence in the power of our Program and the difference it has made in communities across the country, both rural and urban.
Despite the temporary setback, IIUSA’s commitment to the Program and to the EB-5 investors and stakeholders who make it work is stronger than ever and we are proud to continue our active role in the Program’s legislative efforts. There are countless positive stories to uncover and share with our united voice. The EB-5 community and its partners must rally behind efforts to reauthorize the Regional Center Program, or the U.S. economy faces the possibility of losing billions of investment dollars and missed opportunities for tens of thousands of American jobs.
Aaron Grau, Executive Director of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), is a former Majority Counsel on the U.S. Senate Health Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, where he developed Senate hearings and negotiated and drafted several pieces of federal legislation and was part of the Senate team that created the Workforce Investment Act.