Leahy Secures Five Month Extension For Critical Foreign Investment Program

WASHINGTON (Saturday, September 27, 2008) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has secured an extension of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center pilot program in a continuing resolution approved by Congress to keep the government operating when the fiscal year ends on September 30.  The five-month extension will become effective when the President signs the bill.


Leahy has pushed for a five-year extension of the successful EB-5 Regional Center pilot program.  In March, he introduced legislation to make the program permanent.  Since it was first created in 1993, the pilot program has attracted millions of dollars in foreign investment in theUnited States, and created thousands of new domestic jobs.  There are 24 Regional Centers across the country. 


Vermont’s Regional Center was established in 1997, and rechartered in 2007.  Two Vermont ski resorts are active participants in the Regional Center pilot program and have launched ambitious development projects.  Vermont’s Regional Center projects have drawn business and tourism to the state, fueling local economies and creating jobs. 


“In the midst of the greatest financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression, reauthorizing a program to create jobs and stimulate our state and local economies should find unanimous support in Congress,” said Leahy.  “I have seen the success of this program inVermont.  It has created jobs and improved local business at no cost to the taxpayer.  It is regrettable that bitter Republican objections to positive immigration reforms have prevented us from making this program permanent.” 


Leahy continued, “Although I am pleased that Congress has extended the Regional Centerprogram, I also regret that the same divisive politics surrounding immigration reform have prevented the reauthorization of the H-2B returning worker exemption, which is so critical to so many small businesses in Vermont and across the country.  This short extension for the RegionalCenter program, however, will allow Vermont’s Regional Center and others like it across the country to continue, and with any luck, the new Congress will overcome these partisan objections and make the Regional Center permanent.”


The Regional Center program has generated millions of dollars in capital investment in American communities and created thousands of domestic jobs since 1993.  The Centers attract foreign investors seeking legal permanent residency and a chance to invest in the American economy.  Investors must pledge a minimum of $500,000 to a targeted project within a Regional Center and independently apply for an EB-5 visa.  If approved by U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), foreign investors are granted a conditional two-year green card.  After two years, the investor must provide proof that they have created at least ten jobs within a specified geographic area and have met additional investment requirements set by USCIS.  More than 20 applications are pending with USCIS to establish new Regional Centers in several states. 


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