The EB-5 Program has been extended for six months, through September 30, 2018, as part of the omnibus spending bill funding the federal government. Congress passed the spending bill early Friday morning and President Trump signed the bill today. The extension of the EB-5 Program does not include any of the controversial reforms.  Potential reforms include increasing the minimum investment amount, creating additional safeguards, and instituting a visa set-aside for rural projects.

I invite you to read my May 2017 article published by Law360 explaining some of the reforms being discussed. Without the omnibus bill, there would have been a government shutdown and the EB-5 Program would have expired. We will be closely following industry dialogue and activity on Capitol Hill surrounding EB-5 reform and/or extension efforts in the coming months.

CU.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.ongress has passed a stopgap spending bill which will extend the EB-5 Regional Center Program through January 19, 2018 without change.  It is expected President Trump will sign the bill today, thereby averting a government shutdown. Without the stopgap spending bill, the EB-5 Program was otherwise due to expire tonight. We will be closely following activity on Capitol Hill as efforts towards EB-5 reform continue.

U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.The EB-5 Program has been extended through December 22, 2017.  The Program was extended as part of a continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government through December 22, 2017, thus preventing a government shutdown.

There are no changes to any federal programs with this two-week extension which is welcome news for EB-5 industry stakeholders.

Today, Congress submitted a proposed omnibus spending bill to extend funding to the government through September 30, 2017.  The EB-5 Regional Center Program is included in the bill which proposes a clean extension without any of the much-debated reforms.  If approved, the EB-5 Regional Center Program will be extended through September 30, 2017, offering lawmakers and stakeholders additional time to reach a long-term legislative solution.

Today, Congress extended the EB-5 Program for 1 week through May 5, 2017.  The Program was extended as part of a continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government through May 5, 2017, thus preventing a government shutdown.  The EB-5 Program would have otherwise sunset today.  The President has until midnight tonight to sign the CR.

This is welcome news for EB-5 industry stakeholders as the program is alive for another week and allows more time for negotiations with lawmakers, with the ultimate goal of reaching a deal that would reform the program with a long-term reauthorization.

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It’s not every day that a president makes a major announcement on social media.  On Wednesday (Nov. 19), President Barack Obama posted a video on Facebook to announce that he plans to make a primetime address to the nation to lay out the steps he will take with regard to our immigration system tonight (Thursday, Nov. 20) and then will travel to Las Vegas on the heels of that announcement to rally support for his initiative on Friday.

“Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long,” Obama said. “So what’ I’m going to be laying out is the things I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system work better even as I continue to work with Congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem.”

When asked about the President’s decision to use Facebook for the announcement, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “This was an opportunity for us to reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people.”

In the video, also posted on the White House website, Obama said he will give a prime time immigration address Thursday, and follow it up with an event Friday in Las Vegas.

Earnest reported: “In under an hour the video reached more than 1.2 million users on Facebook — 227,000 people had viewed it, another 12,000 people had shared it. So this is a pretty effective way of the president communicating with the American public.”

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

Please see below for a clip of my November 18th appearance on “Leiberman Live” SiriuxXM radio show with host Jon Leiberman.  In the clip, I discuss current issues surrounding Immigration Reform and President Obama’s imminent announcement regarding his executive action on immigration.

Leiberman Live feat. Alka Bahal – Immigration Reform

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

Immigration reform is a topic that is as old as it is controversial.  The administration of President Barack Obama, like the George W. Bush administration before it, has pushed for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR)—to no avail.  There have been immigration crises brought on by the current law and also some relief from a “broken” system.   That relief has principally come from Executive action rather than Congressional initiative because Congress can’t seem to pass an immigration reform or related bill.  Among the executive actions taken by the Obama administration have been “Prosecutorial discretion” and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Record numbers of aliens have been deported, but the government doesn’t have unlimited resources to prosecute every person who may be subject to removal—all 11 million+ of them.  The executive branch has the discretion to decide where to allocate its resources. This is true in every area of law enforcement.  In the immigration context, there has been executive action to focus on the removal of criminal aliens and to exercise discretion not to prosecute worthy individuals who have only technical immigration grounds for removal.   In addition, DACA has given the relief of “deferred action” to approximately 500,000 aliens who arrived as children under the age of 16, who have clean records, pursued their education at or above the High School level and are under 31 when they apply. This executive action was announced by President Obama in June 2012.  The DACA policy has allowed  many young people who have only known the US as their home to have comfort that the US is their home.

In the last few days, there have been lead articles about additional actions that the administration will be taking to effect reform of some aspects of the broken immigration system.  Typically, the articles discuss and debate the timing and the politics, but not the specifics.  While the administration has discretion to take or decline to take some actions that have profound effects on the lives of many aliens and their communities, executive action will not be able to increase the number of family- or employment-based visas nor do away with the H-1B cap.  Executive action may result in H-4 visa holders being granted employment authorization (see Blog posts by C. Wadhwani)  and changes in the process and treatment of unaccompanied minors and increase the resources spent on the Border patrol.  It will be up to Congress, however, to bring the US immigration system into the 21st century, Congress will need to get rid of the H-1B lottery that businesses face when seeking to employ foreign born professional workers and correct other measures that haven’t kept up with the times.  Stay tuned, some changes are coming.

On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, the bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” introduced S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.” 

The bill is widely described as a clear “compromise,” where no one person or party will get everything they want, including the President, however President Obama, in a statement he wrote on Tuesday urging the Senate to quickly move the bill forward, that the bill is consistent with his principles on comprehensive immigration reform:

“This bill would continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.  It would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally, …and it would modernize our legal immigration system so that we’re able to reunite families and attract the highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help create good paying jobs and grow our economy.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill on Wednesday, but it has been postponed until Friday morning, according to the committee’s schedule.

Below are eight initial points of interest pulled from the bill’s provisions.  This by no means a comprehensive review of the bill, but here are just a few things S.744 would do:

  1. Legalization: Allow noncitizens who are unlawfully present and who entered the U.S. before December 31, 2011 to adjust status to that of Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI). Eligible applicants would be required to pay a penalty and back taxes. Individuals in RPI status would receive work authorization and may travel abroad. They would also become eligible to apply for LPR status after 10 years, and can apply for naturalization 3 years after acquiring a green card. Includes generous provisions for DREAMers and agricultural workers.
  2. Family-Based Immigrants: Move the current FB-2A category into the immediate relative classification, allow for derivatives of immediate relatives, eliminate the FB-4 category, cap the age of eligibility of married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens at 31, and bring back the V visa.
  3. Employment-Based Immigrants: Exempt the following categories from the quota: EB-1 immigrants, doctoral degree holders, physicians who have completed the foreign residency requirement, and derivatives. Add a new “EB-6” category for certain entrepreneurs.
  4. Temporary Workers: Create a W-1 visa for lesser-skilled workers, a W-2 visa for aliens coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform agricultural services or labor under a written contract, and a W-3 visa for “at-will” workers with an offer of full-time employment in an agricultural occupation. The W-2 and W-3 visas would replace the current H-2A agricultural worker program.
  5. Asylum: Eliminate the one-year filing deadline and authorize asylum officers to grant asylum during credible fear interviews.
  6. E-Verify: Require all employers to be on the system after 5 years.
  7. H-1Bs: Increase the quota to a floor of 110,000 and a ceiling of 180,000, increase the U.S. advanced degree exemption to 25,000 but limit it to STEM graduates, add a recruitment requirement for all H-1B labor condition applications involving a detailed posting on an Internet site designed by the Labor Department, add a non-displacement attestation, change the prevailing wage formula, provide EADs for spouses, and add a 60-day grace period after an H-1B has been terminated from his or her job.
  8. Fraud: Make it a crime to knowingly defraud an immigrant or hold oneself out as an attorney or BIA accredited representative when one is not authorized to do so. Require the identification of individuals who assist immigrants with the completion of forms and empower the Attorney General with injunctive authority to act against an unscrupulous “immigration service provider” at the federal level.

We welcome your comments!