RC Program Extended to 9/30/2016

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, which includes a sentence authorizing the Regional Center program through September 30, 2016 (in Section 575 on PDF page 285) has been passed by Congress and signed by the President. Now it will become law, and the EB-5 status quo can continue for another few short months. If the alternative draft EB-5 legislation recently under discussion had been enacted instead, we’d now have a higher minimum investment amount for all EB-5 investors, more guarded and complicated targeted employment area parameters, limitations on foreign ownership of EB-5 enterprises, provisions that would curb the big EB-5 users as well as fees and requirements that could all but eliminate the little guys, solid new integrity measures, a heavier paperwork burden on regional centers and USCIS, and a relatively stable long-term footing. As it is, nothing in EB-5 has changed for now except the regional center program sunset date.

What happened is a mixed blessing. I’m glad that the most recent draft reform bill didn’t become law, as it included a few dangerously ambiguous, counterproductive, gratuitous and impracticable points (at least in the last version I saw) in addition to many wise and important modifications. But I’m also sad that we didn’t manage anything substantive or long-term this time around, despite an enormous amount of effort in that direction.

The last-minute clean regional center program extension in the omnibus bill could be interpreted cynically as a victory for a few powerful players who lobbied well to ensure that the trough not move just so long as they’ve got their snouts in it, regardless of long-term program viability and overall health (and as a victory for representatives who can continue to be courted and lobbied/bankrolled so long as they keep issues pending by deferring instead of resolving them). Or the short extension can be viewed positively as a victory for the majority who could benefit from giving Congressional leaders and stakeholders a few more months to come up with what they tried for but didn’t quite manage to produce this year: a really clear and practicable long-term authorization proposal worthy of enactment, something whose well-drafted language and provisions would support solid reform and progress and protect the regional center program’s broad-based benefits. But such a victory would require people to be willing to return to the table and get right back to the hard work of trying to forge lasting solutions. And will they be willing? Many who were at the long-term authorization table have a bitter taste in their mouths right now, disappointed that they didn’t hammer out better legislation in time and suspecting that even if they had the result could still have been preempted at the last minute. But their hope and efforts must be renewed, or the regional center program will not have a future.

For commentary on what happened, where we are now, and what will happen next, see Stephen Yale-Loehr’s article Congress Extends EB-5 Program for One Year Without Changes, Posted 12/16/15 and Senator Grassley’s statement on his website Grassley Vows Continued Push to Reform EB-5 after Fixes Ignored in Omnibus Spending Bill, Posted 12/17/2015.

About Suzanne (www.lucidtext.com)
Suzanne Lazicki is a business plan writer, EB-5 expert, and founder of Lucid Professional Writing. Contact me at suzanne@lucidtext.com (626) 660-4030.

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