Many in the EB-5 community are already counting the days.
On September 30, 2012, the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program is set to "sunset" unless Congress and the President approve legislation that extends its lifespan -- or makes it permanent.
Less than a month ago, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Creating American Jobs Through Foreign Capital Investment Act. The bill, which the senator discussed in a brief press conference, would make the regional center foreign investment program a permanent institution.
"EB-5 has generated over a billion dollars in capital investment in American communities and created 1,000 jobs domestically," Senator Leahy told the press.
Standing beside the senator at the press conference were principals from a Vermont EB-5 regional center whose efforts helped fund construction projects at two ski resorts.
It's no secret that the real estate industry has been one of the biggest champions of the investor green card program in recent years. Given an economic climate in which banks aren't lending, raising capital from foreign national immigrant investors has been one of the best (if not only) ways to fund projects at resorts, build hotels, and expand hospitality infrastructure.
More regional centers and EB-5 practitioners also joining the push
In light of the Leahy legislation and impending sunset date for the program, the Association to Invest in the USA (IIUSA) has already hosted one reception in support of a permanent regional center program.
And on May 10, the group will host another event advocating for the Leahy bill.
At its EB-5 Regional Center Advocacy Conference and Annual Membership Meeting, IIUSA will feature many prominent voices in the EB-5 visa sphere, and all attendees will receive an "EB-5 Advocacy Toolkit" to help them champion the program before elected officials.
Because time is running out
As IIUSA notes in its announcement for the conference, the EB-5 Regional Center Program is set to end just "509 days from the date" of the upcoming event.
With new regional centers springing up just about every week and interest in the program continuing to grow, it's good to see that many in this market are "keeping the faith," so to speak.
Still, without advocacy for the program and a strong push by EB-5 supporters over the next year and a half, it really is in danger of shutting down.
As Senator Leahy explained to the Senate upon introducing the bill, "A regional center program is an economic engine for the state or region in which it is located." When handled by responsible operators who have a keen grasp of such issues as material change, the EB-5 visa program certainly does bring jobs to this country that would not otherwise be here.
And it's hard to be against job creation. Especially when you're a member of Congress.