EB-5 Visa Needs Renewal

EB-5 Visa: Renewal (Permanence?) Needed by September 30

 

This week, the blog is covering the four immigration programs that are due to expire on September 30, 2015. When Congress returns from its summer recess on September 8, it will have three weeks to renew the programs or else they will sunset. The focus today is the EB-5 investor immigration visa.

 

The Immigration Act of 1990 created the EB-5 program, which was a new employment-based method of immigration. For a $1 million investment in a commercial enterprise, a foreign national can earn a Green Card (following a two year period of conditional residence and meeting all of the requirements). An alternative allows for a $500,000 investment in a targeted employment area (high unemployment or rural). The investment needs to create at least ten full time qualifying US jobs with the enterprise. A later designed pilot program incubated regional centers, which collect investors for large projects, such as apartment buildings. For the majority of the program’s existence, it was infrequently used. Following the Great Recession of 2008, the program took off and 2014 was the first year that the cap was hit with Chinese investors. In 2007, not even 800 applications were filed. By 2011, that hit 3,800. In 2014, the full 10,000 spots were satisfied.

 

Given the high financial stakes at play, the renewal of the program has been a priority for Congress, stakeholders, and cities. Between 2005 and 2013, the EB-5 program invested over 5.2 billion dollars in the United States and created an estimated 31,000 jobs. Various mayors and local leaders have advocated for the renewal of the EB-5 program. There are currently three bills (S.1501, HR 616, HR 3370) proposed in Congress. Click here for a summary of all three.

 

All three bills are intent on extending the program with the House bills proposing a permanency, rather than waiting till the deadline to authorize renewal. As it has recently become an issue, the two House bills address the cap. HR 616 eliminates spouses and children from the 10,000 cap, so that all 10,000 spots belong to investors. It would also eliminate per country quotas. HR 3370 leaves open the possibility for an additional 10,000 visas if the cap is reached. Notably, the Senate bill seeks to increase the minimum investment from $500,000 to $800,000 and $1 million to $1.2 million.

 

Advocates of the EB-5 program decry the current long processing times associated with the EB-5 process and subsequent Green Card issuance. The House bills propose mandatory processing times to expedite the processes. Despite recent fraud issues, the EB-5 program has risen in popularity in the past few years and spurred foreign investment in the United States. Congress will certainly devote its attention to fine tuning the program through the bills it is considering.

 

EB-5 is a pivotal part of current US immigration. The blog will provide updates throughout the month.

EB-4 Religious Workers

Praying for Renewal: EB-4 Religious Workers Program to Sunset

This week on the blog, we are covering the four immigration programs that are slated to expire on September 30, 2015 (see our coverage of CONRAD 30 from yesterday). Congress returns from its summer recess on September 8 and will have three weeks to renew the programs, as it last did in 2012. Today, the focus is on the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker program.

The Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Workers fits into the EB-4 category of employment immigration. Please see the Visa Bulletin and scroll to the Employment Based, Category 4 for current priority dates (all countries are listed as current). There is a strict cap of 5,000 workers a year. The non-minister is allowed to bring his or her under 21 children and spouse, given eligibility. The workers whose petitions are approved become permanent residents.

The eligibility criteria include:

  • Member of religious denomination that is a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the US for at least two years before the worker’s petition is filed
  • Entering the US to work in a full time and compensated position
  • Working for either a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the US or bona fide organization affiliated with the religious denomination in the US
  • At least two years of continuous work as a religious worker in the position either abroad or in the US

The major American religious organizations have written a joint letter to the Senate, urging Congress to reauthorize the program for an 8th time. It has been in operation since 1990 and the letter mentions the laudable work that the immigrant workers have helped accomplish. The letter also exhorts the critical need these workers fill in the religious organizations and their communities. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced the bill to extend the program in the Senate in May.

Resuscitating CONRAD 30

A Month to Resuscitate CONRAD 30

This week, we are discussing the four immigration programs that are set to expire on September 30, unless Congress renews them upon returning from recess on September 8. Today, we discuss CONRAD 30, a medical program that is pivotal across the county.

 

CONRAD 30 is on Congress’ operating table. The legislature now has a month to renew the program that allows states’ health agencies to hire 30 international medical graduates (IMGs) and place them in areas that are medically underserved. These communities are often desperate for general physicians and specialists and rely on the state agency placements. Congress has until September 30 to reauthorize the CONRAD 30 program.

Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota created the program in 1994 to rectify the shortage of physicians in certain areas. IMGs on J-1 visas can apply for the program to waive their two-year home residency requirement. The federal government designates medically underserved areas and each state’s Department of Health can hire up to 30 IMGs to fill the shortage. The physician must meet general and state-specific requirements to qualify for the program, the most important being a full-time job offer in the medically underserved area and service of three years. The area of the prospective physician’s practice must demonstrate evidence of inability to recruit an American citizen for the position.

For a variety of reasons, the US has had a physician shortage and it seems imminent to continue. Within that physician shortage, the number of medical students opting for general practice is declining. To address this, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Senator Heidi Heitcamp of North Dakota, introduced a bill in the Senate in May to renew and make permanent the CONRAD 30 program (even extending it to 35). It has received sponsorship from Senator Collins of Maine and Senator Moran of Kansas.

The most recent reauthorization of the program occurred on September 28, 2012, when President Obama signed S. 3245 into law. That extended the CONRAD 30 program till September 30, 2015. The program has survived and expanded over 21 years and Congress has one month to save it.

Immigration Programs Expiring

Four Immigration Programs Expire Next Month

This week, we are going to cover four important immigration programs that have an expiration date of September 30, 2015. Immigration law in the United States is a collection of various programs. The buzzword after the 2012 elections was “comprehensive” immigration reform. The reality is that much of immigration is “piecemeal,” so that it is put together at different times for different reasons.

 

Congress returns from its summer recess on September 8, 2015. When it returns, there are three weeks to ensure that the EB-5 program, CONRAD 30, Religious Workers program, and E-Verify are renewed and continued. Congresspersons have proposed and sponsored bills to renew and even make these programs permanent.

 

We will keep updating the blog with the political machinations, efforts to renew the programs, and any developments throughout September. September 30 is a critical date in immigration for another reasons. The Department of Homeland Security is the federal agency charged with overseeing immigration in the United States. In March of this past year, after weeks of intense scrutiny and jockeying, Congress decided to fund DHS until September 30. DHS funding is sure to be another point of emphasis when Congress returns to session next week.

 

We will summarize each program, describe its purpose, and detail any future updates or changes to the programs.

Haiti: TPS Extended

Haiti: TPS Extended

On August 25, 2015, Secretary Jeh Johnson of the Department of Homeland Security extended Haiti’s designation for Temporary Protected Status for another 18 months. This means that Haitians who currently have TPS and would like to extend their stay in the United States must re-register sometime between August 25, 2015 and October 26, 2015.

Haiti has been designated for Temporary Protected Status ever since January 21, 2010, in the aftermath of an earthquake that wreaked havoc across the country. Temporary Protected Status is not immigration status. Rather, it allows individuals from countries given TPS to apply for Employment Authorization and remain in the United States legally for a temporary period. The reason for granting TPS is usually a catastrophe – natural disaster, civil war, extreme famine. An individual applying for TPS must have been in the United States at the time of original designation.

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