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Why JTC Supports the EB–5 Regional Center Program Advisory Committee Authorization Act

The bipartisan bill would improve communication between USCIS and the industry while allowing for greater input on how to help the program succeed.

Since 1990, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has allowed foreign nationals to seek new lives in the United States while also benefitting the U.S. economy through investment and job creation. At the heart of EB-5 is the Regional Center program, which allows investors to pool capital in economic development projects that have been approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

According to industry trade association Invest in the USA (IIUSA), “95% of all EB-5 capital is raised by and invested in Regional Centers.” This invested capital has generated “more than $50 billion in economic development” while creating more than 1.35 million jobs at no cost to taxpayers.

Unfortunately, because the Regional Center program must be renewed by Congress, it has been subject to periodic lapses and short renewal periods that have prevented it from reaching its full potential. Regional Centers have also struggled with delayed or vague communication from USCIS, particularly after the passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA), further limiting the program’s ability to impact communities and help immigrant investors realize their American dreams.

To ensure the continual health of the Regional Center program in particular, and EB-5 in general, industry leaders have joined with Congressional representatives to promote new legislation aimed at crafting a healthier partnership between Regional Centers and USCIS. We at JTC support this legislation, and here’s why.

The bill

Introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to the House Judiciary Committee on February 5th, 2024, H.R. 7220, the EB-5 Regional Center Program Advisory Committee Authorization Act, was sponsored by Representatives Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Lance Gooden (R-TX), and Dwight Evans (D-PA).

The bill states that its purpose is “to establish in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security an EB–5 Regional Center Program Advisory Committee” made up of both industry leaders and government officials.

“The Advisory Committee shall advise, consult with, report to, and make recommendations to the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding the EB–5 Regional Center Program,” and will “develop recommendations for improvements to the EB–5 Regional Center Program within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”

IIUSA worked with lawmakers on the legislation, which found support in representatives with first-hand knowledge of how EB-5 investment can transform communities.

“When I was Mayor of Phoenix, I saw how the EB-5 program can attract foreign investment and create new jobs—lifting our economy and making us more globally competitive,” said lead sponsor Representative Greg Stanton (D-AZ).

The committee would have no more than 35 members who are “experts in the EB-5 Regional Center Program space.” The bill would also create subcommittees related to Administration (dealing with agency staffing, petition processing times, improved communication between the Agency and EB–5 Regional Center stakeholders, fraud prevention, and compliance with securities laws), Impact (dealing with job creation and investment), and Policy (dealing with legislative interpretation, USCIS policies, regulations, financial structuring of investments, and source of funds issues).

Who will be on the committee?

According to the bill text, “the Secretary of Homeland Security shall appoint the members of the Advisory Committee consisting of representatives of Federal, State, local and Tribal Governments and EB–5 regional centers in good standing representing projects from diverse geographies and diverse project types.”

Advisory Committee members will serve two-year terms, with the possibility of reappointment at the end of each term. No member can serve more than six consecutive terms. These members will come from two categories:

  1. Regional Centers, including at least two members (but no more than three) from Regional Centers experienced in rural, high-unemployment, and infrastructure projects, as well as at least two members from each of four regions to ensure all areas of the country are represented.
  2. Government officials, including mayors and economic development officers from a variety of community sizes. There can also be members from trade associations representing at least 50 EB-5 Regional Centers and “other relevant fields identified by the Director.”

The bill specifically states that the committee “shall not make any petition or case-specific recommendations to the program,” meaning it will not interfere with the adjudication of individual petitions, eliminating concerns about conflicts of interest.

Committee members “may not receive pay or benefits from the United States Government by reason of their service on the Advisory Committee,” further ensuring that the sole focus is to recommend improvements in how the Regional Center program is run.

Why we need this legislation now

As part of the IIUSA Leadership Circle, we’re proud to support H.R. 7220. JTC has worked for years to pioneer best practices in protecting investor funds, providing greater transparency, and security measures that can curtail fraud and abuse. Many of the best practices we’ve implemented have eventually become legislatively mandated, improving the overall perception of EB-5 by encouraging high standards.

“The EB-5 Program is a key driver of U.S. economic growth and job creation,” said Representative Lance Gooden (R-TX). We couldn’t agree more. As the leader in EB-5 administration both before and after the RIA, JTC has seen how EB-5 projects have been able to direct investment toward the places that need it most while allowing immigrant investors and their families to pursue new lives in the United States.

EB-5 is not without its problems. Long wait times have created hardship for investors who want nothing more than to secure permanent residency and fully integrate into American life, and vague (or sometimes nonexistent) guidance from USCIS makes it hard to proceed, sometimes resulting in lawsuits just to understand how USCIS is going to interpret aspects of the law.

What we need is open dialogue between USCIS and industry stakeholders, and a committee made up of both seasoned Regional Center operators and lawmakers who understand the importance of EB-5 will ensure they work hard to make things run more consistently and efficiently, with proper safeguards for investors.

“The EB-5 visa and the Regional Center Program combine two very complicated policy and operations areas: immigration and economic development,” said Aaron L. Grau, Executive Director, IIUSA. “Making the most of the program, assuring its integrity, and creating as many U.S. jobs as possible will take time, and above all, open communication between EB-5 practitioners and federal EB-5 administrators. This new Advisory Committee will create a viable platform for this critical dialogue.”

More than anything, we want the Regional Center Program to last, and by creating a dedicated body to address issues in the industry, we can show Congress just how effective EB-5 can be and potentially achieve the goal of permanent program renewal.

“For decades, EB-5 has positively impacted communities while helping immigrant investors and their families pursue their dreams in the U.S., but it can do so much more,” said Jill Jones, General Counsel, ICS USA at JTC. “We need industry and government to come together and set high standards for EB-5 stakeholders so the program can reach its true potential, now and in the future.”

Get in touch your representatives today and tell them about the EB-5 Regional Center Program Advisory Committee Authorization Act. And to learn more about JTC’s commitment to furthering best practices in EB-5,

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