Congress Extends EB-5 Program
Congress has extended the U.S. Immigrant Investor Program, or the EB-5 program as it is commonly known. The program had been set to expire on Sept. 30, 2016, but will now run through Dec. 9, 2016.
The EB-5 program grants green cards to foreign individuals who invest at least $1 million in ventures that produce permanent jobs in the U.S. The required investment amount is lowered to $500,000 in certain targeted employment areas. The program has proven extremely popular among foreign investors seeking a fast-tracked process to U.S. citizenship and U.S. developers seeking funding for real estate projects. In 2014, EB-5 investment totaled $2.6 billion nationally, and California led all states in EB-5 activity.
However, an extension of a few months is not the victory for which some had hoped. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) proposed a bill last June that would have extended the EB-5 program for five years. However, Leahy's bill has languished in the Senate Judiciary Committee as Congress and stakeholders discuss substantial reforms to the EB-5 program. Some investors will stay on the sidelines until the long-term fate of the program is known.
"We believe the current extension has been a positive, but the market will still be waiting to see what happens," said Ronnie Fieldstone, an attorney who represents developers and EB-5 regional centers.
While Congress is unlikely to pass a comprehensive bill that provides both major reforms to and a lengthy extension of the program before Dec. 9, 2016, many believe that a smaller bill that provides another minor extension and increases the minimum investment levels to $800,000 and $1.2 million is forthcoming.
- New York
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