美国EB-5投资移民,走向何方?

继续谈EB-5新法案,也是要快审美疲劳的话题,不过今天来点新的,重要的内容,EB-5立法,究竟会已怎样的方式出现。

6月4日,美国参议院委员会司法委员会高级参议员Patrick J. Leahy,代表他及主席Charles E. Grassley提出,名为:To promote and reform foreign capital investment and job creation in American communities (促进和改革外国投资和美国就业创造)的EB-5改革,S1501提案,一石激起千层浪,自此EB-5行业就没有消停过。

美国移民

在中国,这个EB-5行业的最大市场,冲刺9/30避免涨价成了当务之急。在美国,一方面,区域中心按照对于新提案的解读,尽量去囤积新项目,以便在新法案出台后还有符合老法案的项目销售。另一方面,EB-5行业在忙着游说国会,试图就新提案中种种不尽合理,以及不利于行业发展的因素,传递给国会议员,当然也是双管齐下,目标:参众两院。上周业内游说机构,EB-5投资联盟(EB-5IC)的Laura Foote Reiff、Brian Su和北京行业协会的齐立新会长等,一班业内大佬,就在国会山密集拜会参众两院重要议员,试图影响其立法决策。

今天,这篇文章来自Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.律所的,Douglas Hauer、Alexander Hecht和R. Neal Martin律师,由业内朋友Dora义务翻译,特此感谢。

EB-5计划重新授权:提议中的立法改革

背景

1990年的移民法创立的投资移民计划,通常称为EB-5计划,为外国投资者提供了一个机会来获得美国永久居留权,通过将最低为100万美元的资本投资到一个新的商业企业(NCE),为美国工人创造至少10个就业机会。根据现行法律,如果NCE创造的就业机会位于目标就业区(TEA),那么 100万美元的投资金额就能调整为50万美元,目标就业区的定义为农村地区,或者是失业率至少是全国平均失业率水平150%的区域。

1992年,为了刺激投资者对这个项目的兴趣,国会通过创建一个试点项目,允许设立EB-5区域中心,这是私人盈利性的或政府下属的实体,通过USCIS(美国移民局)批准,来管理EB-5投资和监督就业的创造。区域中心项目允许计入间接就业,以满足就业创造的需求。

根据USCIS,截至2015年6月1日,该机构已经批准了700多个区域中心的申请。

超过90%的EB-5投资是通过区域中心,或隶属于区域中心的项目。区域中心计划是成功的,仅在2013财年,这个计划创造了超过41,000个就业岗位,为美国获批项目吸引了超过45亿美元的投资。

当前的再授权法案

目前的状况是,众议院的提案是希望能将区域中心项目永久化,而在参议院的提案是将项目延期五年。这两个提案都将致力于EB-5计划的改革,该计划面临:欺诈和滥用的报道、对开发商和投资者的拖延审批,并且忧虑并不会使农村和高失业率的TEA受益。

自区域中心计划1993年实施以来,国会已经对该计划进行了5次再授权。最近的一次是在2012年,该项目被延长到2015年9月30日。该计划的立法延期,在参议院一致同意获得通过,在众议院以412:3获得通过。

同时,E-Verify计划、特殊移民宗教庇护计划,以及Conrad State 30 J-1签证豁免计划,也同样获得通过,延期至2015年9月30日。

众议院

今年3月,众议员Jared Polis(D-CO)和Mark Amodei(R-NV)提出了,2015年美国创业和投资法案 - H.R. 616,这将使区域中心计划永久化,同时也将对该计划进行改革和增强。具体的改革措施包括:

· 改进TEA的认定,明确由州政府来认定,并延长TEA认定的有效期为两年。

· 提交该计划的效率,通过要求国土安全部部长建立预批准程序,要求每一个区域中心在招募投资人之前获得项目商业计划书的预先批准。

· 设置一项新要求:USCIS除非在项目出现实质性变化、欺诈或法律缺陷时,否则要遵从先前的裁决。

· 加强区域中心的透明度和问责制,要求投资者符合联邦证券法和其他额外的强制的法律法规。

· 为I-924或I-526申请设置快速审批,180天,而目前这个审批过程可能需要12到18个月。

· 修改EB-5投资者的儿童年龄计算方法,允许EB-5主投资者的直系亲属进行永久居留权的并行申请。

· 确定《海外反腐败法》(FCPA)对EB-5申请的适用性。

参议院

今年6月,参议院司法委员会主席Chuck Grassley(R-IA)和资深参议员Patrick Leahy(D-VT)提交了S. 1501提案,2015年美国就业和投资促进改革法案。该提案将区域中心计划延期五年,同时用监管工具、加强安全监管、反欺诈条款来改革该计划,使之更加透明。该提案将授予国土安全部有权扩大背景调查和对投资进行更彻底的审查,也允许国土安全部,通过使用一个将由项目参与者支付的专门基金,在美国和国际上积极调查欺诈。其他改革措施包括:

· 将TEA项目所需的最低投资金额从50万美元增加至80万美元,非TEA项目所需的最低投资金额从100万美元增加到120万美元。

· 修改TEA的定义为包括乡村地区、关闭的军事基地,或单一人口普查区的失业率是全国平均水平150%的区域,但是对位于大都市统计区域之内或之外的TEA位置有特定的要求。

· 区域中心项目计算的间接就业岗位创造数目不能超过总就业数的90%。

· 要求区域中心参加年度认证,证明它们不仅符合区域中心计划法案要求,也符合州和美国证券法律要求。

· 要求任何直接或间接运营区域中心的人必须是美国公民或具有永久居民身份。

· 限制使用赠与和贷款作为EB-5投资的来源。

· 当签证配额可用的情况下,允许并行提交I-526申请和I-485调整状态申请,并且特别指明,如果父母的I- 829申请终止,但只要子女还是未婚的,并且父母在一年内递交新的I-526申请,子女依然可以锁定年龄。

· 引入新的参数,就算就业统计数,在项目同时有非外国企业家和其他资金来源来源时。

展望

虽然这些天,在国会内部一切皆有可能,但是内部人士认为,众议院和参议院应该能够达成共识得到一个两党、两院共同再授权EB-5计划的法案。

处理该事务的国会工作人员,预计众议院很可能将在暂停日通过再授权法案,尽管最终的法案可能不是,H.R.616提案所提出的永久授权法案,但可能是一个五年或七年延期的法案。众议院很可能会直到临近9月底之前,才会就重新授权采取行动。

众议院司法委员会主席Bob Goodlatte(R-VA),司法委员会高级众议员Darrell Issa(R-CA),通常被认为是Polis/Amodei立法的支持者,但是预计他们将寻求对法案进行修改。

在参议院,前景扑朔迷离。正如上面所讨论的,主席Grassley和高级成员Leahy已经推出了5年延期的提议案,但参议员Charles Schumer(D-NY),Jeff Flake(R-AZ)和John Comyn(R-TX),参议院司法委员会的所有成员,都被认为是更接近支持众议院的提案。

之前法案的到期日是9月30日,现在距离其到期日只有有限的立法日了,并且众议院和参议院在8月和9月的第一个星期会休会,所以最可能的,虽然不确定,结果会是国会将通过Polis/Amodei立法的一些说法(有期限的年限延期,而不是永久化法案)。还可能的是,我们看到该计划被短暂延期,允许众议院和参议院的政策制定者对再授权法案进行协商妥协。

简单总结

结合上面这篇文章,EB5Sir就个人意见,最后做点简单总结,关于EB-5新法案,大致有几种可能:

1. 在9月30日前,参众两院没吵完,先将EB-5区域中心计划短暂延期,然后继续吵,拿出一个统一的方案。

2. 在9月30日前,参众两院达成一致,共同推出一项法案,现在看来难度应该不小,原因有二:

a. 参议院的S. 1501提案尚未开始听证,而且8/9月份国会有5周的休会时间,满打满算从现在到9月30日是10周,扣掉这5周的话,只剩下5周的时间给国会,去通过一项比较有争议的法案,按照业内有些大佬的说法是,当前参议院的提案尚不成熟,应该需要费时费力的妥协沟通。

b. 据说众议院司法委员会的主席Bob Goodlatte,将自行提出一项EB-5新提案,并且EB5investors杂志期待他能在出席8月份的大会上宣布,如此一来形势可能会更加复杂,面临着许多变数。关于该会议的介绍,可以参阅今天的另个另一个帖子。

总之,EB-5法案如何落实还有很多变数,但是对于普通投资者来说,能尽量赶在变法之前未尝不是最好选择。

原文作者:Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.律所的,Douglas Hauer、Alexander Hecht和R. Neal Martin律师,原文网站:www.natlawreview.com。

原文

EB-5 Program Reauthorization: Proposed Legislative Reforms
posted on: Monday, July 6, 2015

Background

Created by the Immigration Act of 1990, the Immigrant Investor Program, more commonly referred to as the EB-5 program, offers foreign investors an opportunity to secure permanent residency in the United States by making a minimum capital investment of $1 million per investor into a New Commercial Enterprise (NCE) that will create at least 10 jobs for US workers. Under the law now, the $1 million investment amount is adjusted downward to $500,000 for an NCE that creates jobs in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which is defined as a rural area, or as an area that has an unemployment rate that is at least 150 percent of the national average.

In 1992, in an effort to spur interest in the program, Congress followed up by creating a pilot program that allowed for the establishment of EB-5 Regional Centers, which are private for-profit or government-affiliated entities that receive special designation from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to administer EB-5 investments and oversee job creation. The Regional Center program allows indirect jobs to be counted toward the job creation requirements.

According to USCIS, as of June 1, 2015, the agency had approved more than 700 regional center applications.

More than 90 percent of EB-5 investments are made through Regional Centers, or projects affiliated with Regional Centers. The program has been a success, creating in Fiscal Year 2013 alone more than 41,000 jobs. The program has attracted the investment of more than $4.5 billion in qualified U.S. projects.
Current Reauthorization Legislation

In the current congress, legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to make the Regional Center program permanent, and in the Senate to extend the program for five years. Both measures would make reforms to the program, which has faced reports of fraud and abuse, processing delays for developers and investors, and concerns that the benefits of the program are not going toward rural and high-unemployment TEAs.

Congress has reauthorized the Regional Center program five times since its inception in 1993, most recently in 2012 when the program was extended through September 30, 2015. The legislation to extend the program was agreed to in the Senate by unanimous consent and in the House of Representatives in a vote of 412-3.

The same legislation also extended through September 30, 2015 the authorization for the E-Verify Program, the Special Immigrant Non-minister Religious Worker Program, and the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program.
House of Representatives

In March, Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Mark Amodei (R-NV) introduced H.R. 616, the American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2015, which would make the Regional Center program permanent, while also making reforms and enhancements to the program. Specific reforms include:

Improving the definition of TEA designations, by codifying the designation authority, which is done at the discretion of the states, and by lengthening the validity period of TEA designations to two years

Increasing the program’s efficiency by requiring that the Secretary of Homeland Security establish a preapproval procedure that enables a Regional Center to seek preapproval of a business plan before seeking project investors

Establishing a new requirement that USCIS defer to its prior rulings except in the case of material change, fraud or legal deficiency

Enhancing Regional Center transparency and accountability with a requirement that investors comply with federal securities laws and other additional enforceable regulations and laws

Providing for an expedited 180-day adjudication process for I-924 or I-526 filings, which can take between 12 and 18 months for approval currently

Amending the age determinations for children of EB-5 investors and allowing for concurrent filings by of EB-5 petitions for permanent residence status by immediate family members of principal investors

Affirming the applicability of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to any EB-5 petition

Senate

In June, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S. 1501, the American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act of 2015. The bill would reauthorize the Regional Center program for five years, while overhauling it with oversight tools, security enhancements, and anti-fraud provisions to make the program more transparent. The bill would provide the Department of Homeland Security with the authority for expanded background checks and a more thorough vetting of proposed investments, and would also allow DHS to proactively investigate fraud, here in the United States and internationally, using a dedicated fund that would be paid for by certain participants in the program. Other reforms include:

Increasing the required minimum investment amount in a TEA from $500,000 to $800,000, and from $1 million to $1.2 million for non-TEA investments

Revising the definition of a TEA to include a rural area, closed military base, or area consisting of a single census track with a unemployment rate that is 150 percent of the national average, but with specific requirements related to the TEA’s location within or outside of a metropolitan statistical area

Specifying that indirect jobs can make up no more than 90 percent of all the jobs counted for the purpose of the Regional Center designation

Requiring that Regional Centers provide an annual certification that they are complying with program requirements and also that they are in compliance with state and U.S. securities laws

Making U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status a requirement for anyone directly or indirectly engaged with operating a Regional Center

Limiting the use of gifts and loans as the source of EB-5 investments

Allowing concurrent filing of an I-526 petition and I-485 adjustment of status application if a visa number is immediately available, and also specifying that if a parent’s I-829 petition is terminated their child will still be considered a child for EB-5 purposes provided that the child remains unmarried and the parent files a subsequent I-526 petition within one year after the termination of the original petition

Introducing new parameters for applying job creation statistics with respect to determining the amount of EB-5 capital that may flow into projects that are also financed by non-alien entrepreneurs and other sources of capital

Outlook

While anything is possible in Congress these days, insiders believe that the House and Senate should be able to work together in a bipartisan, bicameral way to reauthorize the EB-5 program.

Congressional staffers working on this issue anticipate that the House will likely pass a reauthorization on the suspension calendar; although the final bill may not be a permanent authorization as called for in H.R. 616, but could instead be a shorter five or seven year extension. It is possible that the House will not act on reauthorization until late September as the expiration date draws near.

Both Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), a senior member of the committee, are thought to be generally supportive of the Polis/Amodei legislation, but are expected to seek changes to the bill.

In the Senate, the outlook is murkier. As discussed above, Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Leahy have introduced a five-year extension bill, but Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and John Cornyn (R-TX), all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, are thought to favor a reauthorization that is closer to the House legislation.

With limited legislative days left before the program’s expiration on September 30th – the House and Senate are in recess for the month of August and first week of September – the most likely, although not certain, outcome is that Congress will pass some version of the Polis/Amodei legislation (with a limited number of years’ extension, versus being made permanent). We could also see a short-term extension of the program to allow House and Senate policymakers to negotiate a compromise reauthorization bill.

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