On March 27, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S. 727, the Invest in Our Communities Act. The bill would not only increase the worldwide levels of employment-based visas, but also permanently reauthorize the EB-5 Regional Center Program. If enacted, the bill would exempt dependents of visa applicants from being counted towards the visa cap and would also remove the per country visa cap for the EB-5 visa category.
In addition to permanently reauthorizing the EB-5 Regional Center Program the bill includes several integrity measures specific for EB-5. Among other provision, the bill would:
• Prohibit bona fides of regional centers from participating either directly or indirectly if they have been found guilty of certain crimes in the past 5 years;
• Bar involvement by a foreign government in regional centers;
• Require criminal and other background checks (including fingerprinting) of regional center or regional center affiliated enterprises and any person involved in them;
• Allow for termination of regional centers by the Secretary of Homeland Security for reasons of fraud, abuse, misrepresentation, or otherwise failing to comply with the law;
• Statutorily reaffirms the requirement to comply with securities laws;
• Require oversight and record keeping by regional centers of offers, purchases, and sales of, and advice relating to securities made by parties associated with the regional center.
The bill also allows for the elimination of resubmission of documents that are similar across multiple petitions and allows for deference, absent material change, fraud or legal deficiency, when adjudicating multiple I-526s and I-829s from the same project.