CRS issues a report on the EB-5 program in advance of congressional debate

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued a report on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program, a program that grants permanent resident status to certain foreign nationals who make sizable investments in the United States which create United States employment. The EB-5 program is set to expire on September 30, 2016, and the report comes amid debate in Congress over the program. In 2015, Congress considered reforms of the EB-5 Regional Center program, but instead extended it with no changes until September 30, 2016.

The EB-5 visa provides lawful permanent resident (LPR) status to foreign nationals who invest $1 million in the United States, or half that amount in a Targeted Employment Area, and who employ at least 10 U.S. workers. The investment can be made directly or through specially set up and approved Regional Centers which create EB-5 projects in which indirectly created employment can count toward the creation of 10 U.S. Worker jobs.

The CRS report outlines the EB-5 policy issues that are currently under debate in Congress. The report points out that while proponents argue that the U.S. economy benefits from the investments that the program brings, critics contend that the program allows people to buy their way into the United States. According to the report, many EB-5 stakeholders are concerned about delays in processing EB-5 applications, and some question whether U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has the expertise to administer the embedded business components of the program. Others contend that the EB-5 program is susceptible to fraud and threats to national security, as evidenced by the recent, massive fraud allegations against the EB-5 Regional Center at the Jay Peak Resort in Vermont.

The Congressional debate over EB-5 visas will continue ahead of the scheduled September 30, 2016 program expiration. Whether major changes will occur in a Presidential election year remain to be seen.