Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Aaron Schock Introduce Bipartisan Immigration Bill

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Aaron Schock Introduce Bipartisan Immigration Bill

Plan Permanently Extends EB-5 Visa Program, Eliminates Outdated Country Caps

Honolulu – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) formally announced bipartisan legislation today that permanently extends the popular EB-5 visa program for immigrant investors and eliminates the current program’s outdated country caps. The bill, H.R. 4659, was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary for action.

“When I hear from people in Hawai‘i, the most important issue they bring up, by far, is that we need to revitalize and strengthen our economy.  By introducing this bill, we can leverage funds and capital from overseas in our communities by encouraging foreign investors to create and support jobs in every sector of our economy, particularly in rural areas or those with high unemployment,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.  “Between 2005-2013, for example, $6.5 billion was invested in projects around the country, supporting 131,000 American jobs. In Hawai‘i, our business owners and job-seekers have the potential to benefit greatly from our proximity to investors in the Asia-Pacific region who want to expand to the U.S. market.

“As a founding co-chair of the Congressional Future Caucus, I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my friend and colleague Congressman Aaron Schock. Together, we are working to identify practical, creative, and long-term solutions to the challenges we face in our communities and across the country.”

The EB-5 visa category was initially created as a pilot program under the Immigration Act of 1990. Current law allows for as many as 10,000 annual admissions and requires a minimum $1 million investment per visa. If the investment is made in a high unemployment or rural area, however, the investment threshold can be lowered to $500,000.  The program has been extended twice in the last five years, with the House voting 412-3 in 2012 in the 112th Congress to extend the program until Sept. 30, 2015.

“Right now, more than anything, the U.S. economy needs good-paying jobs and investment capital to build the companies that create them. The EB-5 regional center program accomplishes both goals by attracting qualified foreign investors and establishing measurable goals for job creation,” Rep. Aaron Schock said of the bill. “Repeatedly, EB-5 program extensions have received overwhelming bipartisan support. This much-needed legislation underscores the importance of an incremental approach to immigration reform as Congress seeks common ground to address our nation’s broken system.”

According to the most recent reports, the EB-5 visa program contributed $3.4 billion to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012, supported 42,000 U.S. jobs and generated $712 million in federal, state and local tax revenues.  Presently, there are more than 6,000 pending EB-5 investor applications that would support 60,000 U.S. jobs under the program, with many of them in high unemployment states.

Hawai‘i projects that have benefitted from EB-5 investments:

  • $18 million: The University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu campus development project.
  • $50 million: The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation consolidated rental car facility project at Honolulu International Airport.
  • $12 million: Development of a Pacific Links golf course and related property development.

Reps. Gabbard and Schock are co-founders of the Congressional Future Caucus, a bipartisan working group of next generational lawmakers who seek to develop long-term policy solutions that meet the challenges of America’s future. By fostering a bipartisan community of Members of Congress who are dedicated to pragmatic leadership and issue-oriented results, the Future Caucus provides a platform to re-engage young people across the country with their government and our nation’s democratic institutions.