The road to U.S. citizenship can be an arduous and tricky route. Most foreign immigrants must spend years maneuvering through the immigration channels and satisfy numerous requirements in order to obtain citizenship. The U.S. created different mechanisms to gain full status as a U.S. citizen; however, one was solely established to be an investment, and not an immigration, vehicle to help stimulate economic growth and foreign investment in America – the EB-5 Regional Center Program.
Therefore, in the coming days Congress should support the extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Program. This is not just an immigration issue – it is an economic development opportunity that benefits Americans and our economy.
With stricter oversight and management, the EB-5 Regional Center Program is extremely beneficial to America. An extension with strong integrity measures – offering greater supervision and enforcement capabilities to DHS and requiring regional centers to pay annual assessment fees to cover costs to implement – will create a favorable environment for the regional centers operating “above board.” Additionally, specific language should clarify and stipulate with more precision the original intent of the program by directing the visa investment capital to regional centers operating and promoting investment projects in geographical areas experiencing higher unemployment and low-income areas.
While the program did not catch on immediately, after the 2008 recession and its consequences, U.S. companies had challenges obtaining financing. The program and its benefits were soon discovered – creating a new source of capital.
According to Invest In the USA, an industry group, EB-5 investment has grown from $321 million in 2008 to $2.6 billion in 2014 and supporting around 41,000 jobs – a 700 percent increase. This year’s investment is on track to hit $3.6 billion demonstrating that the popularity of the program has consistently and continues to increase. Other countries have followed suit to compete with the U.S with similar programs such as Canada, Australia and Portugal, but our program is slated to expire on September 30.
The EB-5 approach is about job creation; which, in turn, produces a multiplier effect – spilling economic benefits to the local community and surrounding businesses. As a result, more American jobs are created than without this type of investment.
We need this program to be extended to give our country the tools necessary to help create jobs and strengthen our nation’s economy.