Congress has agreed to an omnibus appropriations bill, which contains a number of immigration-related provisions. Though the vote on the bill is set for Dec. 18, it is widely expected to pass. In it, Congress has agreed to extend the EB-5 Regional Center program without change until Sept. 30, 2016. The EB-5 Regional Center program permits foreign nationals to obtain a green card if they invest at least $1 million ($500,000 if invested in a targeted employment area) in a U.S. business that creates at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers. Several bills have been introduced over the past year to reform the EB-5 program; however, House and Senate leaders were unable to agree on the changes to the program before it was to expire on Dec. 16. Look for changes to the program in upcoming months.
Through the appropriations bill, Congress has also extended through Sept. 30, 2016, other immigration programs without change, including the Conrad 30 J-1 waiver program for foreign national physicians, which permits foreign physicians to remain and practice medicine in the U.S.; the special immigrant visa category for religious workers; and E-Verify, which is an electronic system intended to provide information about the employment authorization of workers.