Reauthorization for the Regional Center Program—How Could it Take Place?

On June 30, 2021, the EB-5 Regional Center Program expired, leaving the EB-5 investment industry in suspense. Congress failed to pass the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act, which would have reauthorized EB-5 regional centers, and therefore suspended regional center investment. A unanimous consent request to pass the act had been blocked by Senator Lindsay Graham. As of October 10, 2021, regional center investment remains suspended.

The failure to revalidate the program has many EB-5 investors worried. On its website, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would no longer be accepting EB-5 petitions associated with regional centers. Therefore, any foreign nationals who made an investment through a regional center prior to the expiration of the program may question whether they can still obtain permanent resident status in the United States.

In this article, we explore how the regional center program could be reauthorized and why this issue is crucial for the EB-5 investment industry.

How Could Regional Center Investment be Revalidated?

If Congress agreed to accept the EB-5 industry’s requests for reform or if members of the EB-5 community settled for legislation that does not result in all their desired changes, a consensus could likely be reached, and regional center EB-5 investment could be revalidated. At this point, any bill reauthorizing EB-5 regional centers would have to be included in another, larger legislative vehicle.

Many stakeholders involved in the EB-5 investment industry simply seem unable to agree on what changes need to be made to the program. The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act is an important example; it did not set out any changes to key EB-5 policies but simply introduced new measures to aid the program’s integrity. Many industry members wanted more significant changes to the program, which would likely have been met with opposition.

If any bills on the horizon do not reauthorize regional centers, then the EB-5 industry will simply have to lower its expectations for reform and focus on getting the regional center program revalidated. Since the Reform and Integrity Act does not make significant changes to the EB-5 industry, it might still be used for this purpose.

The Importance of Reauthorizing Regional Center Investment

The EB5 investment industry should do all it can to get the regional center program revalidated. The longer it fails to take action, the greater the consequences will be—for example, many EB-5 visas could go to waste. Moreover, as mentioned previously, I-526 petitions from regional center investors are not being accepted by USCIS. This policy tarnishes the EB-5 industry’s reputation and may cause regional center investors to lose confidence in the program.