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EB-5 visa program extended…until Dec. 21

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The federal EB-5 visa program received another extension as part of the larger federal spending bill, this time until Dec 21. EB-5 had been set to expire on Dec. 7.

Congress now has two weeks to decide whether to extend again or shut down the controversial green card initiative. The program gives foreign investors the opportunity to obtain a green card if they invest at least $500,000 in a project and create at least 10 jobs.

The program has received a number of short-term extensions for the past three years, with Congress unable to agree on a permanent measure. Most recently, lawmakers extended the program on Sept. 28, with the Dec. 7 deadline. That was part of a larger spending bill to avoid a government shut down.

One expert said he did not see a change in the immediate future.

“I would call it business as usual, the program will remain alive, it will be extended again,” said Ronald Fieldstone, a partner in the Miami office of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr.

EB-5 faces a number of pressing issues, including weakening demand from Chinese visa seekers — who comprise a large share of the applicants — due to long wait times. A number of notable fraud cases involving EB-5 projects have also surfaced.

One of the most high-profile EB-5 projects came to a halt in October in New York. Investors walked away from their plans to build a massive Ferris wheel in Staten Island, which attracted 412 EB-5 investors. It marked one of the largest EB-5 failures yet.

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