September 30, 2012 – Countdown to Reauthorization

Nothing focuses one’s attention like a deadline — the day a paper is due for a student; the day a project must be completed for a businessman; and the day a worthwhile program is due to expire for Congress. Back in 2009, the EB-5 Regional Center program was set to expire on September 30, but Congress, despite broad bipartisan support, waited until September 30th to pass a 30-day extension and then a 3-year reauthorization.

2009 seems like ages ago for EB-5. Since that time, it has exploded in popularity, with the number of investors growing substantially every year and the number of Regional Centers increasing by 400%. 90% of all EB-5 petitions are filed through a Regional Center. The expansion of Regional Centers across the United States means that there are now more interested parties — businesses, communities, politicians — in the success of the EB-5 program. This EB-5 lovefest was on display recently at the packed congressional hearing on September 14, 2011, when the issue of permanent authorization of the EB-5 Regional Center program was discussed.

And so the idea that EB-5 won’t be reauthorized is almost incomprehensible; the only question is when. To those who will “believe it when I see it”, it is important to note that even in an absolute worst-case scenario in which the Regional Center program is not extended, those investors in the EB-5 pipeline before the deadline may still be in a position to receive EB-5 status. USCIS and the State Department may expedite processing of EB-5 investors before September 30 and Congress may approve a technical amendment allowing for the finalizing of processing of already-filed petitions. Thus, as with premium processing, to wait on the sidelines in anticipation of government action is not advisable. A smart Congress would permanently authorize the EB-5 Regional Center program immediately; a dithering one may wait until the deadline. Regardless, the focus of potential EB-5 investors should be on their own circumstances — does an EB-5 investment make sense personally and financially? — and not on a “deadline”, which is in all likelihood a date that will only serve to focus the attention of Congress circa 2009.

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