Congress Punts Funding Deadlines … SEC to Vote March 6 on Climate Disclosures … Roundtable Urges EB-5 Guidance Correction

A bill passed by both chambers of Congress yesterday and signed by President Biden today punts a set of government funding deadlines to March 8 and 22, thereby preventing a partial government shutdown that was scheduled to start at midnight. (ABC News, March 1 | House bill text)

New Stopgap Goals

  • The new two-tiered stopgap bill gives policymakers some time to negotiate a full-year appropriations bill as a House-passed tax package is under consideration in the Senate. (See tax story below).
  • On Wednesday, congressional leaders announced the deal, which extends funding for the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Energy, Transportation, and others from March 1 through March 8. The bill also extends funding for the Pentagon, Health and Human Services, Labor, and other agencies from March 8 through March 22.

SEC to Vote March 6 on Climate Rule

  • The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a vote next week on whether it will adopt final rules requiring companies to provide certain climate-related information in their registration statements and annual reports.
  • The SEC’s “open meeting” to consider the climate rule will take place on Wednesday, March 6 at 9:45 am and will be webcast at

Roundtable Urges Congress to Correct EB-5 Guidance

  • The Real Estate Roundtable urged the leaders of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees this week to correct defective “guidance” enacted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that is undermining the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA). [Roundtable EB-5 letter, Feb. 28, 2024]
  • The USCIS’s arbitrary guidance states that EB-5 investments made after RIA’s enactment must “remain invested for at least two years.” This position contradicts regulations kept by USCIS on its rulebooks for decades.
  • RER’s letter also explains that USCIS’s defective guidance exacerbates CRE’s current liquidity issues. For example, the agency’s position effectively eliminates the availability of EB-5 investment capital to help finance projects to convert underutilized commercial buildings to multifamily housing.  

The Roundtable is calling on Congress to correct the error with a short statutory change that codifies the long-standing regulatory approach, which couples the periods for EB-5 capital sustainment and conditional residency.

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White House Releases Plans to Battle Inflation and Streamline Infrastructure Permitting; Congressional Leaders Urge Swift Implementation of New EB-5 Law

President Biden on inflation

President Joe Biden this week committed that his administration’s top economic priority is battling inflation. Biden’s efforts to combat rising prices include proposals that would increase taxes on large corporations and the wealthiest Americans – and possibly eliminate Trump-era tariffs on foreign imports. (White House Inflation Plan | News conference video | The Hill, May 10)

  • The Labor Department reported that consumer prices increased 8.3% in April compared to one year ago, as inflation remains near a four-decade high. (Labor Department news release and AP, May 11)
  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell discussed the Fed’s inflationary goals during an interview this week with Marketwatch, stating, “Whether we can execute a soft landing or not, it may actually depend on factors that we don’t control.” The Fed recently approved the biggest interest hike in 22 years and announced plans for reducing its nearly $9 trillion balance sheet. (CNBC, May 12)
  • Powell also recently stated, “There is a broad sense on the committee that additional 50 basis point increases should be on the table at the next couple of meetings.” He added, “the American economy is very strong, and well-positioned to handle tighter monetary policy.” (Wall Street Journal, May 4)
  • A semi-annual report released this week by the Fed detailed risks to financial stability, pointing to the potential impact of inflation, sharply rising interest rates and the war in Ukraine. The report also flagged a decline in liquidity. “While the recent deterioration in liquidity has not been as extreme as in some past episodes, the risk of a sudden significant deterioration appears higher than normal,” according to the report. (Wall Street Journal, May 9)
  • Powell was approved this week to serve a second term as Fed Chair by a bipartisan Senate vote of 80-19. (Politico, May 12)

Infrastructure Permitting

Infrastructure photo Cleveland

  • The White House this week also unveiled a plan to strengthen and accelerate federal permitting and environmental reviews funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed last November. (White House Fact Sheet, May 11 and Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 12, 2021)
  • The Biden administration said its Permitting Action Plan will improve environmental reviews to avoid duplicity and will create sector-specific teams aimed at speeding permitting and resolve supply chain issues that hinder construction.

EB-5 Regional Centers

EB-5 and passport

  • Four congressional leaders wrote a bipartisan letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this week to counter a statement by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that existing EB-5 regional centers must apply for recertification. The USCIS  statement, if put into effect, would delay regional center enterprises from seeking new foreign investment pending reapproval. (Congressional letter, May 9)
  • The letter was signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Senate Judiciary Committee members John Cornyn (R-TX) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). 
  • Their letter clarified that previously existing regional centers are not required to be recertified under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 passed last March – but the centers must swiftly meet all of the new law’s anti-fraud and homeland security protections. (EB-5 investors blog, May 10)

The Roundtable-supported  EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act was the first significant update to the regional center program since its creation by Congress in the early 1990s. (Roundtable Weekly, March 11, Roundtable news release and EB-5 Fact Sheet)

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Long Overdue EB-5 Regional Center Reforms Included in Omnibus

EB-5 and passport

A reinstatement and major overhaul of the EB-5 investment visa program passed Congress this week as part of the omnibus package that will fund the federal government through Sept 30. President Biden is expected to sign the omni today. (Roundtable news release and EB-5 Fact Sheet)

 EB-5 Reinstatement

  • The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act is the first significant update to the “regional center” program since its creation by Congress in the early 1990s. The EB-5 language can be found in the Division BB section of the 2022 omnibus appropriations bill.
  • The Act reauthorizes regional centers for five years, which expired on June 30, 2021. The EB-5 program reforms are the culmination of years of hard work by a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives who negotiated a pragmatic solution to modernize the investment visa program.
  • After President Biden signs the omni, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can re-start its procedures to review the petitions of tens of thousands of overseas investors who have been in limbo on their green card applications since last July.
  • The Act also sets new program requirements to safeguard national security, deter fraud, and promote urban and rural development with EB-5 financing provided by overseas investors. [Roundtable EB-5 Fact Sheet]

Roundtable Commends Reforms 

John Fish Suffolk CRE background

  • “The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act gives our country a competitive edge in the global marketplace for foreign capital and it will attract investments from abroad to create jobs here at home,” said Real Estate Roundtable Chair, John Fish [Chairman and CEO, Suffolk], above, “American workers in low-income neighborhoods, downtown business districts and rural markets will benefit from EB-5 modernization because it will bring critical financing to support infrastructure and other economic development projects throughout the country.” (Roundtable news release, March 11)
  • “The Roundtable has advocated for years to clean up the regional center program and we applaud congressional passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act,” said Roundtable President and CEO, Jeffrey D. DeBoer. “The Act strikes a bipartisan compromise to get the program back on track – and reduces the litigation risk from existing investors who have been waiting in limbo on their visa applications since the program expired last July.”

“We thank House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for their bipartisan, bicameral agreement to include comprehensive EB-5 reform in the omnibus appropriations package,” DeBoer continued. “We commend the authors of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), for their work in crafting a product that has the support from a diverse stakeholder coalition.” 

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Seven-Year TRIA Reauthorization Passed as Part of $1.4 Trillion Spending Bill

A seven-year reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) was approved this week by the House and Senate as part of a year-end funding bill (H.R. 1865).  The provision reauthorizes TRIA through 2027, a year ahead of its slated sunset date of Dec. 31, 2020. (TRIA provisions on pages 1233–1236 of the year-end funding legislation). 

The measure is part of a massive $1.4 trillion congressional spending deal to fund the government until the end of the fiscal year – Sept. 20, 2020.  President Trump is expected to sign two separate funding bills to keep the government open past midnight tonight. 

Roundtable Chair Debra Cafaro (Ventas, Inc.) stated, “The Real Estate Roundtable is pleased that TRIA will be extended until 2027.  This federal terrorism insurance backstop was enacted following 9-11 and has been extended and reformed several times since. We cannot overstate the valuable safety and liquidity that the program brings to the US economy, businesses of all manner and commercial real estate markets.”

A long-term, “clean” reauthorization of TRIA, well in advance of its expiration, has been a top policy goal of The Roundtable.  This was achieved a full year ahead of schedule.  (Roundtable background on TRIA)

In addition to TRIA, the omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 1865) contains several other positive measures affecting real estate.  The tax and funding extensions include: 

  • The EB-5 Regional Center Program, which provides visas to foreign nationals who pool their investments in regional centers to finance U.S. economic development projects.  The program would be extended until Sept. 2020.  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations that took effect in November presently govern key elements of the EB-5 program regarding investment levels and Targeted Employment Area (TEA) definitions.   
  • The National Flood Insurance Program.  Without the extension, the program’s borrowing authority would have been reduced from $30.4 billion to $1 billion. The program would also be extended until Sept. 2020.   (BGov and CQ, Dec. 20)
  • Tax measures would be extended through the end of 2020.  They include (1) the section 179D tax deduction for energy efficient commercial building property; (2) the section 25C tax credit for energy efficient improvements to principal residences; (3) the section 45L tax credit for construction of new energy efficient homes; (4) the tax exclusion for home mortgage debt forgiveness; (5) the tax deduction for mortgage insurance premiums; and (6) the New Markets Tax Credit;
  • The Brand USA program would be extended through fiscal year 2027.  Brand USA promotes travel to the U.S. through a public-private partnership that is funded through private-sector donations and funds collected from foreign visitors to the U.S.

This week also saw the House pass legislation (H.R. 5377) that would temporarily raise and then eliminate for two years the $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions, which would be paid for by permanently raising the top individual tax rate to 39.6%.  This “messaging” bill is unlikely to be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate and President Trump has also threatened to veto it.

After a flurry of year-end policymaking amid impeachment proceedings, both chambers of Congress recessed today and will return in early January.

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Tax Measures and TRIA Among Year-End Policy Rush

Capitol Hill
Congress faces a Dec. 20 deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown as the impeachment process continues in the House, with a likely trial in the Senate beginning in January.

  • Funding for the National Flood Insurance and EB-5 investor programs are currently operating under a four-week spending bill signed by President Trump on Nov. 21.  Without a spending bill or a “Continuing Resolution” (CR) extending current funding, the programs will shutdown on Dec. 21 until Congress reaches a resolution. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 22)
  • Several legislative measures – including an end-of-year tax policy bill and reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) – may compete for inclusion in a must-pass “omnibus” spending package. Yet lawmakers may not have enough time to complete fiscal 2020 appropriations before current funding runs out in two weeks.  Another CR is a possibility before Congress breaks for the holiday.
  • The contentious issue of appropriating Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funds for a wall on the border with Mexico remains a sticking point in negotiations. This same issue led to a historic, 35-day government shutdown from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019.
  • This year, the Trump Administration has requested $8.6 billion for Fiscal Year 2020 to build the wall – and an additional $3.6 billion to restore military base funding that was previously transferred toward partial wall construction.  An administration official said President Trump will not sign any nondefense bill until funding for DHS and a border wall are resolved.  (CQ, Dec. 4)
  • Among the legislative measures of importance to commercial real estate that may be included in a year-end omnibus are tax extenders and technical corrections.
  • Negotiations on a tax package and extenders have been difficult, according to Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “It’s different this year from other years,” he said. (Politico, Dec. 5)
  • House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal (D-MA) said yesterday that some technical corrections to the 2017 tax overhaul law could become part of a year-end tax bill.  “I’m interested in some technical corrections,” Neal said, adding that they could include a fix to an error that prevents restaurants and retailers from immediately expensing the cost of interior renovations.  (BGov Tax, Dec. 5)
  • A top legislative priority for CRE that is also outstanding is a seven-year TRIA reauthorization, which passed the House on Nov. 18 (H.R. 4634) as the Senate Banking Committee advanced a similar bill (S. 2877) on Nov. 20.  (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 22)
  • The Real Estate Roundtable is working with its partners in the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism (CIAT) to urge Senators to include the TRIA reauthorization in a possible year-end spending package.  CIAT sent a letter this week to all Senators urging them to co-sponsor S. 2877 and secure its passage before the end of 2019. (CIAT Letter, Dec. 2)
  • The Roundtable and its CIAT partners continue to meet with Senate offices to encourage increased support for S. 2877. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is the lead sponsor, with 17 bipartisan cosponsors.
  • As Congress attempts to juggle many legislative priorities – including an updated version of a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada (USMCA) and a bill on prescription drug costs – the pressure to pass multiple appropriations bills funding government agencies may lead to a Continuing Resolution extending current funding.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters this week, “I don’t want to contemplate having bills pushed over [into 2020] because we can’t get agreement.”  (CQ, Dec. 4)

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President Trump Signs Spending Bill to Fund Government Until Dec. 20

President Trump signing legislation

Congress this week passed a four-week spending bill that was by signed President Trump last night to fund the government beyond Nov. 21 and avoid a shutdown.

  • The Continuing Resolution (CR) locks in current funding levels for government operations until Dec. 20 – including the National Flood Insurance and EB-5 investment programs.
  • The measure, passed by the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday, gives Congress three weeks after the Thanksgiving recess to agree on allocating $1.37 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.  (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 27)
  • To avoid future stopgap measures for FY2020, policymakers will need to settle the contentious issue of funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.  Last Dec. 22, the government shutdown for 35 days when Congress and President Trump could not reach agreement on border-security funding for a wall.  (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 22)
  • Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) commented on recent efforts to reach an agreement for funding the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border security. “We gotta deal with the wall, too,” Chairman Shelby said this week. “The wall is still there.”  (Politico, Nov. 21)
  • The CR’s extension for the EB-5 investment program until Dec. 20 does not include any legislative reforms.  However, long-anticipated regulatory changes to key elements of the EB-5 regional center program took effect Nov. 21.  (Roundtable Weekly, March 8, 2019).
  • Negotiations to modernize the investment visa program are expected after the Thanksgiving recess in light of a comprehensive EB- reform bill introduced earlier this month (Roundtable Weekly, November 8, 2019).  

The Real Estate Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, EB-5 Investment Coalition, and other real estate organizations sent a letter on Nov. 15 in support of the bipartisan Immigrant Investor Program Reform Act (S. 2778) – sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

The Senate is scheduled to return on Dec. 2 and the House on Dec. 3.

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EB-5 Reform Bill Introduced in Senate; DHS Regulations Scheduled to Take Effect November 21

U.S. Capitol

A comprehensive legislative overhaul of the EB-5 investment program was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday – as both the program’s expiration and the effective date for new agency regulations are expected on November 21.

  • The Immigrant Investor Program Reform Act (S. 2778), sponsored by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD), Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and John Cornyn (R-TX), would extend the EB-5 regional center program until September 30, 2025.  The bill includes a comprehensive suite of long overdue measures to deter fraud and optimize national security protections, in the context of inbound foreign investment capital that helps finance U.S. economic development and spur American job growth. 
  • Key elements of S. 2778  include provisions to: 
    • Establish an EB-5 Integrity Fund to provide rigorous program oversight, to be funded by regional center participants;
    • Provide DHS with improved investigative tools to ensure that an investor’s funds are derived from legitimate and lawful sources;
    • Clarify DHS’s authority to deny or revoke immigrant investor petitions for reasons including fraud, misrepresentation, or national security concerns;
    • Allow bona fide sovereign wealth funds to co-invest in projects supported by EB-5 capital;
    • Provide visa “set asides” to help direct EB-5 capital to projects in rural areas and census tracts designated by the U.S. Treasury as “opportunity zones”; and
    • Establish new investment levels to $1 million for projects in rural and opportunity zone Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs); and to $1.1 million for non-TEA projects.


  • Compromise reform principles set forth by a coalition of rural and urban stakeholders in May reflect a number of provisions in the new bill.  (Roundtable Weekly, May 17, 2019)
  • The rural and urban business interests recommending EB-5 modernization have consistently urged holistic reforms from Congress, as opposed to piecemeal regulatory changes by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  (Roundtable Weekly, March 8, 2019)  The imminent agency regulations – scheduled to take effect on November 21, unless they are superseded by Congress – do not accomplish important objectives set forth in the Rounds-Graham-Cornyn bill, such as the fraud deterrence provisions, national security enhancements, and visa set asides for investors in rural and distressed urban area projects.  (Roundtable Weekly, July 26, 2019

November 21 is also the date that the underlying legislative authorization of the program expires, as connected to the current continuing resolution (CR) that keeps the federal government running.  For the past five years, Congress has consistently extended the EB-5 regional center program concurrently with spending measures that continue federal operations.  The timing of the DHS rules’ effectiveness and the program’s expiration on November 21, along with S. 2778’s introduction, are expected to spur new rounds of legislative negotiation for long-term EB-5 reform in the coming weeks.

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DHS Issues New EB-5 Regulations

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday published long-anticipated regulations governing key aspects of the EB-5 investment visa program. 

The  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday published   long-anticipated regulations governing key aspects of the EB-5 investment visa program.   

The new rule is scheduled to take effect on November 21, 2019 – assuming Congress reauthorizes EB-5 regional centers by September 30, and does not enact substantive reforms that supersede those program elements covered by DHS’s action.  For a detailed description of the rule, see “Greenberg Traurig Alert: Final EB-5 Regulations.”   The regulation includes:

  • Increases in Investment Amounts: 
    Investment amounts will increase to $900,000 for economic development projects in Targeted Employment Areas (“TEAs”), and to $1.8 million for non-TEA projects (from current levels of $500,000 and $1 million, respectively, which have not changed since the early 1990s).  The new amounts will adjust for inflation every five years back to 1990 dollars, with the first anticipated adjustment anticipated on October 1, 2024. 
  • TEA Definitions: 
    States no longer have a role in designating TEAs – those geographies that attract EB-5 capital at the lower investment threshold.  The new rules define “High Unemployment Area” TEAs –typically in urban locations – as the census tract where the project is located, plus any “directly adjacent” tracts to the project’s tract.  The weighted average unemployment rate across these tracts must be 150% of the national average unemployment rate. 
    • “Rural Areas” (with one exception) are not limited to high unemployment characteristics for TEA qualification.  As with current law, generally any area outside the boundaries of a U.S. Census Bureau Metropolitan Statistical Area (“MSA”) is a “Rural TEA.”  However, an entire town or city outside an MSA – with a population of 20,000 or more people – qualifies for TEA status only if that municipality has an unemployment rate 150% of the national average.
    • A number of stakeholders urged DHS to consider a “commuting pattern” approach for urban environments to qualify as a TEA.  DHS said it “appreciated” comments providing substantial evidence that workers who live in economically distressed neighborhoods typically commute to downtown job centers where core urban development is located.  In the end, however, DHS dismissed a “commuting pattern” option for TEAs because the agency found it “too operationally burdensome” and “posed challenges” that the agency could not figure out.
    • DHS also considered – and rejected – TEA delineations tied to census tract designations with a track record of success in other analogous economic development programs, like the established New Market Tax Credit (“NMTC”) program.
    • DHS’s new EB-5 rule does not comprehensively reform the program as urged by rural and urban stakeholders. (EB-5 coalition letter and  Roundtable Weekly, May 17, 2019) 


      Moreover, DHS failed to address the suggestion of rural and urban stakeholders to consider a recent Trump Administration Executive Order and assess the relationship between EB-5’s economically distressed TEA census tracts and “Opportunity Zone” census tracts, designated by the U.S. Treasury in the spring of 2018. (Roundtable Weekly, March 8, 2019).

  • Grandfathering and Transition Rules: 
    As noted above, the rule is scheduled to take effect on November 21, 2019 – assuming Congressional EB-5 reauthorization by September 30 and no legislative reforms on matters within the rule’s purview.
    • Investors who have already filed I-526 petitions, or who file by November 21, are subject to current program investment levels of $500,000 or $1 million.  They will not be required to post more money to meet DHS’s new amounts.  The rule states: “Petitions filed before the effective date will be adjudicated under the regulations in place at the time of filing.”  
    • Projects that do not complete intended EB-5 capital raises by November 21 will subscribe investors at different amounts.  For example, a project that currently qualifies as a TEA can attract investors at $500,000 until November 21.  Thereafter, if that project loses TEA status as per the new rule, it must attract investors at the $1.8 million level.  DHS rejected the concept for “project grandfathering,” stating such an approach “would grant existing projects in affluent urban areas that have been marketed as TEAs an unfair competitive advantage against new projects in such areas, which will need to attract investors at the higher minimum investment amount.”       

DHS’s rule does not achieve comprehensive reform of the “regional center” program – an objective that a broad coalition of rural and urban groups have urged Congress to achieve by the program’s legislative sunset date on September 30, 2019.  For example, the new regulation does not address EB-5 “integrity measures” that stakeholders have long requested to deter instances of fraud and maximize national security safeguards.  (Roundtable Weekly, May 17, 2019.)

Rural-Urban Coalition Proposes EB-5 Reforms

A broad coalition representing rural and urban stakeholder groups submitted principles today to the Senate and House Judiciary committees on strengthening and reforming the EB-5 investment visa program, which is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2019.  (EB-5 coalition letter)

A broad coalition representing rural and urban stakeholder groups submitted principles today to the Senate and House Judiciary committees on strengthening and reforming the EB-5 investment visa program, which is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2019. (EB-5 coalition letter

  • The coalition also recommends in the May 17 letter that a comprehensive reform package for the EB-5 Regional Center program accompany a six-year reauthorization term.
  • The letter marks the first set of reform principles that have broad, unified support across the EB-5 industry and national real estate organizations.  Signatories to the letter include the EB-5 Investment Coalition, Invest in the USA (IIUSA), Rural Alliance, The Real Estate Roundtable, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • The coalition’s recommendations to modernize the EB-5 program “…would achieve the vital goals of safeguarding our national security and deterring investor fraud while ensuring that foreign direct investment obtained through the EB-5 program continues to drive economic growth and job creation in the U.S.”  (EB-5 coalition letter)
  • recent report estimates that the regional center program brought a total of $10.98 billion into the country (accounting for roughly 2% of all foreign direct investment net flows into the U.S.), and created more than 355,000 U.S. jobs (representing roughly 6% of private sector job growth), from FY 2014 – FY 2015.
  • Among the principles detailed in the letter, the coalition proposes steps to benefit Targeted Employment Area (TEA) projects in rural communities and distressed urban census tracts designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as “Opportunity Zones.” Both geographic designations are census tract-based and share the common objective to channel investment capital to the nation’s distressed communities. 

The coalition recommends a set-aside of visas to spur EB-5 investments in Rural and Urban Distressed communities.  It also urges Congress to take action to reduce the overwhelming backlog of pending investor petitions that are choking the program and blocking inbound foreign investment capital into the U.S.