Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Includes EB-5 Enhancements

Posted on April 24, 2013 by admin

April 24, 2013

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this month proposes enhancements to the EB-5 visa program.  Among the proposals is to make the EB-5 Regional Center program permanent and remove its designation as a “pilot” program requiring reauthorization.  Since the EB-5 Regional Center program was authorized in 1993, it has been continuously reauthorized and is currently extended through September 30, 2015.

In addition, the Senate Bill proposes increasing the number of immigrant visas allocated to the EB-5 program from the current maximum of 10,000 allowed per U.S. fiscal year.  The Senate Bill also proposes that EB-5 immigrant visas be allocated only to the principal EB-5 investor and spouses and children be counted separately.  The recapture of unused EB-5 immigrant visas from prior years was also proposed.

In a proposal that has broad implications to all employment-based immigration preference categories, including the EB-5 visa program, the Senate Bill proposes eliminating per country quotas across the board.  Current immigration legislations and rules limit the number of immigrant visas that can be allocated to any one country.  Although historically this has not been an issue in the EB-5 category, the popularity of the program in China trigged an advisory from the U.S. State Department last year.  As we previously reported in our post of November 19, 2012, the U.S. State Department warned that current demand for EB-5 immigrant visas by Chinese nationals may require that a cut-off date be instituted for China. Fortunately, this did not come to pass and the EB-5 program has yet to face any challenges resulting from per country limitations.  Removing this requirement from the employment-based preference category altogether will be a welcome improvement.