President Obama Extends Four Key Immigration Programs
On September 28, 2012, President Obama extended four immigration programs administered by the Department of Homeland Security which will now be in effect until September 30, 2015. Below are the four programs that were extended as a part of S-2345 and a brief description of each.
EB-5 Visa Program
EB-5 was created by Congress in 1990 in an attempt to boost the United States economy through attracting job creation and capital investment from foreign investors. The standard capital investment requirement for an EB-5 investor is $ 1 million dollars. However, the requirement for an investment in a targeted employment area or a rural area, the requirement is $500,000.
The Pilot Program that was extended by President Obama has the same requirements as an investor in the EB-5 investor program described above; the only difference is that the pilot program enables investors that invest in a “Regional Center,” are required to fulfill less restrictive job creation requirements due to the creation of “indirect” and “direct” jobs. A regional center is a business entity that deals with foreign investment within a specific area and complies with the EB-5 framework discussed above.
Regional Centers are expected to promote economic growth through improving regional productivity, creating new jobs, and increasing domestic capital investment. Further, the Regional Centers are required to dedicate sufficient funds to promote and oversee capital investment opportunities in the regional center as well as provide a detailed plan of how the jobs will either be created indirectly, or directly. As of today there are currently 90 Regional Centers in 34 states with 70 more Regional Centers proposed and pending approval.
The Conrad 30 is a program in which physicians who work for three or more years in an area that has been designated as having a shortage of health professionals or a medically underserved area are given a waiver of the J-1 visa foreign residence requirement. Under the J-1 visa requirement, the individual must return to their home country and share what the individual learned while in the United States and may not apply for an immigrant visa for two years.
Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program
The Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program is an opportunity for individuals who are non-ministers in religious vocations or other occupants who intend on performing religious work if they are able to have their status adjusted or immigrate to the United States. Further, this program also enables spouses or children of non-ministers to accompany them and receive the special status as well.
E-Verify is a program used by businesses and it allows them to confirm the eligibility of workers on an Internet-based system. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, more than 400,000 employers currently use E-verify to check the eligibility of their employees. E-Verify also provides companies with features such as secure 24 hour access, error checking, training for large companies, usage reports and many others that are designed to provide companies with an easy way to ensure their employees are working legally. While many states offer employers this service as an option, several states such as Arizona requires that all businesses verify that their employees are legally allowed to work in the United States.