Last night, President Obama presented his Immigration Accountability Executive Action plan. In the approximately 15 minute speech, he described how the plan focuses in three areas – border security, visas for highly skilled immigrants, and a plan to deal with millions of undocumented immigrants.

His proposed initiatives include:

  • Preregistration for individuals awaiting long visa backlogs for EB-2 (professionals with advanced degrees) and EB-3 (highly skilled workers)
  • New pathways to the United States for foreign entrepreneurs to participate in U.S. businesses
  • Finalization of a previously proposed regulation allowing some H-4 spouses to be employed
  • Expansion of population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to young people who came to the U.S. before the age of 16
  • Promoting citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents

As far as EB-5 specifically is concerned, the executive action plan seems to be a non-event. In the President’s speech last night there was no mention of EB-5 or the program for foreign investors. To address issues faced by highly skilled immigrants, the President mentioned that under his plan it would be easier for immigrant entrepreneurs (not investors) to stay and contribute to this country. The more detailed fact sheet published by the White House shortly before the President’s speech elaborates further on this part of the plan, but again, no specific message on EB-5. Perhaps the President’s upcoming Memorandum on Visa Modernization that will direct interagency groups to recommend areas for improvement will lead to addressing some EB-5 issues (like the renewal of the Regional Center program in 2015), but I certainly don’t expect this to lead to anything near term.

From an EB-5 perspective, this is a missed opportunity. I think most Americans would agree despite some modest recovery in the economy that it is still all about jobs. EB-5 is the only non-taxpayer funded job creation program that exists in the United States. Since the beginning of the recession, the EB-5 immigrant investor program has created thousands of U.S. jobs. As we enter 2015, the forecast by the Visa Control and Reporting Division is that the EB-5 category will retrogress, thereby capping the amount of foreign investment job creation. If this, as the President says, is the “common sense” plan for immigration reform, then shouldn’t it include more immigration actions that address the biggest issue the country faces (creating new jobs)? Seems to me that would be common sense.

For more information, visit the USCIS website.

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