Congress Clears Leahy Bill To Renew Job-Creating Foreign Investment Program That Has Spurred Investments Across Vermont

Bill Extending Popular EB-5 Program Now Goes To White House

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, Sept. 14, 2012) – Legislation authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to continue a successful, job-creating immigrant visa program was approved Thursday evening by the U.S. House of Representatives.  The bill, which already has passed the Senate, now goes to the President’s desk for signing. The House vote was 412 to 3.

Leahy’s measure, which passed the Senate in August, would extend the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center program for three years.  Current authority for the pilot program, which has brought economic development and job growth to Vermont for 15 years, runs out at the end of September.

Leahy said, “Congress now has acted to continue the job-creating benefits that these investments have brought to so many communities.  This is another step toward my goal of a permanent charter and other lasting improvements for the program.  Its growth and popularity needs to be met with updates to the existing law.  This new three-year charter starts that process.”

Vermont has been a national leader in using the EB-5 program.  Vermont’s Regional Center has been a successful private-public economic development partnership between the state and several Vermont businesses since 1997.  Two Vermont ski resorts, Jay Peak and Sugarbush, are active participants in the program and have used it to accomplish major development projects.  Leahy noted that the EB-5 Regional Center Program is behind significant capital infusions across the state, from DR Power Equipment in Vergennes, where the program helped the company raise more than $10 million to expand manufacturing operations, to AnC Bio’s plans to open a Newport facility to complement its South Korean operations.

Leahy continued, “Vermont continues to innovate and build our economy with help from this job creation program, and I want to sustain that success for Vermonters and for entrepreneurs who want to pursue business opportunities here in Vermont.”

In cooperation with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and program participants, Leahy also is developing comprehensive legislation to modernize and strengthen the program -- to improve immigration agency oversight and investment planning by states and entrepreneurs, and to secure more certainty for investors. 

“Now that Congress has reauthorized this program for another three years, I will renew the ongoing work to give USCIS the tools it needs to keep this program a strong, secure and vital part of our economy, and to give developers and investors an even stronger framework to spur capital investment and create jobs,” Leahy said.  “With our long history and tradition of welcoming new Americans, our country should continue to foster and strengthen our immigration through investment program as other countries like Australia and Canada have done.”  

Since it was created in 1993 the program has attracted billions of dollars in foreign investment to the United States, creating tens of thousands of new jobs here.  There are now more than 200 Regional Centers across the country, with new applications pending.  The Regional Center program attracts foreign investors seeking legal permanent residency and a chance to live and invest in America.  Investors must pledge a minimum of $500,000 to a project within an approved regional center and must independently apply for EB-5 visas.  If approved by USCIS, foreign investors are granted conditional two-year green cards.  After two years, investors must provide proof that they have created at least ten jobs as a result of their investments and that they have met additional investment requirements set by USCIS.   

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