As two extension deadlines came and went for the EB-5 Regional Center Program at the end of 2015, it became clear that meaningful reform for the program would have to wait. Ultimately, the program's fate was wrapped up in larger federal spending legislation passed at the eleventh hour, extending it--as is--through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2016, with potential integrity measures on the horizon.
In the weeks leading up to the decision, a flurry of articles and commentaries addressed this relatively tiny immigration program - a program that amounts to less than 2 percent of all legal immigration; in other words, less than 4,000 families per year. Despite the program's small footprint on paper, EB-5 touches tens of thousands of individuals each year, many of whom are waiting in an increasingly long line for the chance for their applications to even be considered.
Because of numerical limitations on the program, the immense popularity of the visa among Chinese nationals and sluggishness on the Hill, Chinese investors currently face up to a six-year wait before being granted even a temporary green card. While our legislators are busy politicking, average Americans are missing out on millions of job-creating investment dollars that may soon start flowing to countries like Portugal and Australia, as Chinese investors tire of waiting in line to live the American Dream. Remedies for retrogression--the name for what's holding up so many investor applications--must be part of any future legislation to be effective.
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