The American Immigration Investor Association met with the offices of eight senators and representatives on behalf of the 30,000 EB-5 petitioners in limbo during the Regional Center Program lapse. The group says the two most important takeaways are that “there is no sense of urgency in Congress for EB-5 reauthorization,” and that the Grassley-Leahy bill will be the framework for any potential legislation in the future. Grassley’s office told the group they will move on the issue in the “first half of 2022.” Noting the precedence of an organization representing immigrant interests to get an audience with senior Congressional staff, the AIIA says its days-long visit was successful in acquiring “intelligence,” raising awareness, and fostering relationships. The group assures its membership that their voices are “being heard” and they will be involved in future discussions. The AIIA was able to meet with Betsy Lawrence, Immigration Chief Counsel of the House Judiciary Committee, and Drew Robinson, Senior Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The group also meet with staff members of these senators and representatives: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA) Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). The good news if you’re hoping for imminent EB-5 reauthorization, however, ends there.
No urgency for EB-5 reauthorization in Congress
Despite reauthorization being touted as imminent by many EB-5 stakeholders, the AIIA paints a more sobering picture. “There is no sense of urgency in Congress for EB-5 authorization and no guarantee that reauthorization will occur by February 18,” the group declares. February 18th is the date temporary government funding expires and a spending bill or another extension will happen. Any EB-5 legislation will most likely be attached to a spending bill.
Many Congressional offices unaware of year-end abeyance deadline
Another indication that EB-5 is not high on the list of Congressional priorities is the fact that AIIA offered this admission: “Surprisingly, many of the offices we spoke with were not aware of the end- of-year deadline with USCIS holding the petitions in abeyance.” When the Regional Center Program expired in July 2021, the Immigration Service made a statement that it would put a hold on pending EB-5 petitions until the end of the year and then reevaluate its position at the end of the calendar year. This is a major issue for investors who have filed their petitions but cannot move forward with processing.
Grandfathering will be part of any potential reauthorization bill
AIIA shared that there was no objection to their Foreign Investor Fairness Protection Act (FIFPA) language, text that aims to protect any investors who filed their I-526 petitions before the expiry of the Regional Center Program. The group said that they were confident that protecting those investors would be part of any reauthorization legislation when the program is resurrected. While it seems most reasonable to protect committed investors, the bigger question still looms: Will the Regional Center Program, in fact, be resurrected?
Grassley-Leahy bill, not industry-consensus bill, will determine any possible reauthorization bill
Bringing the expired program back to life will depend, AIIA says, on the Grassley-Leahy Reform and Integrity Act — and not the industry-consensus text that EB-5 stakeholders spent months wrangling over. The fact that Grassley’s office told the AIIA that it would get to the issue of reauthorization “in the first half of 2022” seems like a blow to the hopes of those who think the program will come back any time soon. Given that Grassley and Leahy would be the ones who spearhead any future EB-5 legislation, such a vague and long-term timeline makes one wonder how much the veteran senators even care about EB-5 at this point. Read the AIIA newsletter story