The "politics" in EB-5 area


My college English Lit professor once told me that politics is in everything you do or say, and it's no exception for EB-5 area. There are convergent and divergent view stemming from differing interests all jockeying to be counted and heard.

Some people, including some Congressmen, view EB-5 with suspicion, thinking it's designed to help the rich obtain green cards without working too hard. Others, including some Congressmen, view the RC Program as a great "win-win" vehicle to help create new jobs for the deteriorating U.S. economy. After all, this is the only category that helps to create jobs and does not take away American jobs, which is the all-common complaint against immigrants these days. Especially in light of the H-1B Visa Fraud Arrest news (http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/feb2009/db20090212_9...), EB-5 category should be given more support.

Also, some Senators and Representatives feel the need (or forced to) keep attaching E-Verify bill to even non-controversial immigration bills such as EB-5 Regional Center extension provisions. This reflects the current political climate where it is extremely difficult to pass any slightly immigration bills, even non-controversial immigration bills.

Honestly, if they knew the hoops these EB-5 investors have to go through to obtain their permanent green cards, they would be a lot more supportive of EB-5 Program -- but that's just our opinion. This conflicting attitude is even reflected in the consular officers who interview EB-5 investors. On one hand, they might think: "Hey, these guys are actually investing their hard-earned money into a U.S. commercial enterprise and creating some jobs. Let's give them immigrant visas expeditiously." [Although most consular officers are fair-minded professionals, I have never heard consular officers say these kind words to EB-5 investors during the interviews.] On the other hand, some consular officers may think: "There must be some guarantees being given out or something suspicious going on if these investors are crazy enough to invest $500,000 or $1 MM into a new commercial enterprises to get green cards." Most consular officers probably think: "USCIS approved the I-526 immigrant petitions, so as long as there is no fraud, I am going to approve immigrant visas."

EB-5 Program is an anomaly because in no field of immigration law do commercial needs have as strong impact that shape the features of EB-5 law. The 2002 amendments of EB-5 law were direct results of the recognition on the part of Congress that the previous law did not make it commercially feasible for EB-5 Program to function. Regional Centers actually have to wear two hats: They have to think of the commercial needs of their EB-5 projects, while thinking of minimizing the risks for the benefit of foreign EB-5 investors. Let's face it. If a regional center advertises "You can have huge profit, but there is a huge risk that your money will go down the drain", no foreign investors will subscribe to become an investor in a regional center EB-5 program. The reality is that for Regional Center EB-5 projects to be successful, they have to strive to protect EB-5 investors' interests, while at the same time, help achieve the commercial goals of the projects.

In addition, there are differing opinions among the regional centers and immigration attorneys themselves on how the EB-5 law should be changed or improved. For example, some do not believe "concurrent" processing for EB-5 case is all that important. The more pressing issue is quicker adjudications that help to meet the commercial requirements of bona-fide, job-crating EB-5 projects. Some believe the EB-5 law should be amended, while some believe Regional Centers should work with USCIS to issue guidances and not go for a legislative fix of the EB-5 law.

Holding all these divergent views together and giving an impetus to the EB-5 Program is the fact that the U.S. economy is being benefited by creation of real jobs by real EB-5 projects, most of them blue-collar jobs, such as steel sheet makers, helicopter manufacturers, waiters and waitresses, etc. One bona-fide concern is that once immigration attorneys and Regional Centers start asking for easier ways to meet the job-creation requirements, then there may be no wall shielding unsympathetic, political wind from turning against the EB-5 Program.