Letter to the Editor: EB-5 Visa Program Reform

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette LTE

EB-5 visa program reform
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DEC 7, 2018 12:00 AM

The Nov. 16 editorial about the EB-5 visa program, “Visas for Sale,” is unfortunate for its misunderstanding of how this program works and who benefits from it and for its narrow view, missing the promising path for Pittsburgh as the EB-5 industry matures.

In reality, investors receive a “conditional green card” only after careful screening; that same in-depth review of the project and the investor is repeated two years after conditional status is granted to ensure continued visa eligibility.

At a time when inefficiencies in EB-5’s administration have caused overwhelming processing delays resulting in more than 10-year waits for some families, there’s also no risk of anyone jumping to the front of the immigration line through this program.

Pennsylvania’s 85 regional centers represent a great source of foreign direct investment for the state. Nearly $50 million in EB-5 capital flooded into the Pittsburgh regional center between 2010 and 2015, often filling gaps when federal funding and traditional investment streams are otherwise impossible to secure, as it did for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to connect the turnpike to I-95.

The few bad actors who have abused EB-5 should not stand in the way of its promise. The EB-5 Investment Coalition, including support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has long argued for legislative reform to include integrity measures to combat fraud and safeguard national security.

There is enormous potential for EB-5 to provide capital that can transform communities like Pittsburgh. Real reform of EB-5 is possible; we should not throw that opportunity away.

Laura Foote Reiff
Washington, D.C.

The writer is the co-chair of the business immigration & compliance practice at Greenberg Traurig.