The EB-5 investor visa program is set to expire on September 30, unless Congress can agree on how to reform the program that has become riddled with fraud and abuse. While most of the lawmakers agree that the program needs to be reformed they are gridlocked on what those reforms should be and when the reforms should be enacted.

The EB-5 visa program allows foreign nationals to obtain or essentially “buy” green cards if they invest at least $500,000 in American businesses. The program was designed to help create jobs and increase foreign investment in the U.S. economy but many are questioning if this program is as effective as it has claimed.

A nine-month extension for the program was included in last year’s omnibus spending bill with no changes to the program even though there was bipartisan support to end the program after a GAO report revealed that the visa was vulnerable to fraud.

After this report was released Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote an op-ed that called for an end of the program saying, “simply put, EB-5 sends a terrible message to the millions of immigrants patiently waiting their turn to enter the United States legally…It says that American citizenship is for sale, and that’s not what our country stands for.”

Last year Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)  created a bill that would have reformed the program by adding more DHS oversight, extra security measures and would have redefined areas eligible for EB-5 investment to rural locations with high unemployment.

This bill was struck down by opposition from Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) who want to grandfather in current EB-5 applications from these anti-fraud requirements and keep the EB-5 investment money toward urban areas.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that the involvement of “the EB5 Investment Coalition, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Real Estate Roundtable — with their force in the backrooms of the Congress, kept us from getting the legislation passed.”

Congress has just a few weeks to decide if they want to temporarily extend the program as is, reform the program, or let it expire.

Read more on this story at The Hill.

Legal Immigration

Updated: Wed, Nov 2nd 2016 @ 9:05am EDT