President signs foreign investment program 'EB-5' bill into law
President Obama Friday signed into law legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that will extend a successful, job-creating immigrant visa program that has helped promote economic growth in Vermont and in communities throughout the country. This is the program that helped finance the sweeping, $500 million development in the Northeast Kingdom (Jay Peak, Newport, Burke) that was announced Thursday.
Without Leahy’s bill the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center program would have expired this weekend, on Sunday, Sept. 30. Leahy’s new charter will extend the program for three years. The EB-5 program enjoys broad bipartisan support. The Senate unanimously passed Leahy’s bill in August. The House then passed the Leahy bill earlier this month, in a vote of 412 to 3.
Leahy said, “I’m delighted that all the perseverance in the current difficult legislative environment paid off, and the new charter is in place right on time for investments like those just announced in Vermont. Our state has been a leader in using the EB-5 program to create jobs, and no region of Vermont has succeeded more with these investments than has the Northeast Kingdom. Best of all, these investments do not cost taxpayers a penny. And instead of sending investment dollars overseas, this is a program that brings investment dollars to our shores and into our communities.”
Leahy continued, “I have seen firsthand the positive, job-creating impact this program can have on American communities. On Thursday I joined Vermont state officials and business leaders to announce several new projects that will be financed in part by the program. These new projects are expected to raise nearly $500 million in capital investment and create thousands of jobs for Vermonters. Bill Stenger, who is heading these projects, knows the great potential of the people and the resources of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and this program has helped to harness all that energy to bring that vision to life.”
Vermont’s Regional Center – a national leader in using the federal program -- has been a successful private-public partnership between the State of Vermont and a growing number of Vermont businesses, generating economic development and job growth since 1997. Two of Vermont's premier ski resorts, Jay Peak and Sugarbush, have successfully used the program to undertake major development projects. Other capital investment projects are in the works around the state. Vermont’s projects have drawn business and tourism to the state, fueling local economies and creating jobs.
Leahy said, “I appreciate the President’s support for this bill and the support we have drawn from both sides of the aisle. The president’s signature on this bill is one more step toward my goal of a permanent charter for the EB-5 program, along with additional measures to give U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the tools it needs to keep this program a strong, secure and vital part of our economy. The broad bipartisan support for this program shows that even on immigration policy, elected officials are capable of coming together when matters of job creation and community improvement are at stake.”
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 now are 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. An investor must pledge a minimum of $500,000 to a project within an approved regional center and must independently apply for an EB-5 visa. 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.
WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, Sept. 28, 2012) –