Last week, NES Financial attended the 8th annual IIUSA EB-5 Advocacy Conference, which took place April 12th-14th in Washington, DC.

The conference brought together professionals from across the EB-5 industry, and we appreciated the opportunity to talk with so many of you. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth!

One of the primary focuses of this year’s Advocacy conference was the looming sunset date for the EB-5 Regional Center program.

Unfortunately, in today’s volatile political climate, some worry the EB-5 program may get caught up in political gridlock. Immigration is a hot-button issue, and the few scandals involving disreputable regional centers have provoked both media and political sensationalism.  With a presidential election approaching, candidates and media alike are capitalizing on anything potentially controversial.

The success of the program, both as a path to citizenship for qualified immigrants and as a source of job creation and economic development in the U.S., has been largely overshadowed by recent coverage.  Educating lawmakers and the public about the reality of the program, EB-5 advocates can clearly demonstrate the program is good for America.

In fact, according to a recent economic impact study released by IIUSA at the conference, in fiscal year 2013, EB-5 investments contributed $3.58 billion to the US GDP and created, or sustained, more than 41,000 American jobs.

It is now more important than ever before to reach out to your representatives in congress to garner support for the EB-5 program—to find out who your congress people are and how to contact them, click here.

The conference also featured presentations from a number of prominent guests of honor including updates from the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsperson, Maria Odom and Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State, Charles Oppenheim. Odom reported that the USCIS intends to address the current processing backlog by adding 25 members to their staff and increasing overtime, however, realistically, the backlog is expected to continue to build for the immediate future.

Much to the dismay of the attendees, Oppenheim additionally reported that beginning in May, 2015 visas for mainland China born applicants would retrogress to a cut-off date of May 1, 2013. The implications of retrogression for both Chinese and global investors has been a hot topic throughout the EB-5 industry, and was certainly on the minds of many IIUSA attendees.

Finally, congratulations to Cletus Weber, David Souders, George Ekins, and Bob Kraft on their election to the IIUSA board of directors.

This year’s conference was once again a resounding success; we look forward to attending the next IIUSA conference in the fall. We hope to see you there!

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Image courtesy of IIUSA.