Federal spending legislation includes funding to reduce backlogs, reauthorize EB-5 program

17 Mar 22

UNITED STATES

President Joe Biden signed a federal spending bill this week that includes a boost in funding for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a provision that could help the State Department reduce its processing backlog and reauthorizes the EB-5 immigrant investor program.

Key Points:

  • USCIS funding. The bill provides $275 million in funding for USCIS to address processing backlogs and delays. The COVID-19 pandemic and funding and staffing issues have exacerbated backlogs across visa categories, and USCIS officials have said reducing wait times is one of the agency’s top priorities.
  • Visa processing abroad. The bill allows the State Department to use Fraud Prevention and Detection fees for general consular operations to help reduce visa wait times. Like USCIS, the State Department is grappling with a backlog of cases due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related staffing issues. It is not yet clear how the State Department will use this authority.
  • EB-5 visa program. The bill reauthorizes the EB-5 Regional Center Program, which allows qualifying foreign investors to apply for green cards. Funding for the EB-5 program lapsed on June 30, 2021; Congress has now revived it through September 2027. The bill also contains adjustments to EB-5 investment thresholds and new oversight provisions.
  • Other immigration programs. The bill reauthorizes the E-Verify program, the Conrad 30 waiver for J-1 physicians and the non-minister special immigrant religious workers program through the end of the fiscal year.
  • Assistance for Ukraine. The bill includes $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine, including $1.4 billion for migration and refugee assistance.

BAL Analysis: The passage of the spending bill averted the possibility of a government shutdown and, the legislation includes provisions that could help USCIS and the State Department reduce processing backlogs. BAL will follow the implementation of the new legislation and will provide updates as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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