Written By Elizabeth Chatham

On Friday, September 28th, 2012, President Obama signed into law S. 3245, which extends to September 30th, 2015 the expiration dates of key requirements of four immigration programs administered by the Department of Homeland Security: the EB-5 Regional Center Program, The Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program, the E-Verify Program, and the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program. The U.S. House of Representatives sent the bill to the President on September 13th, 2012, after passing it by a vote of 412-3.

The United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) administers the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under “The Immigrant Investor Pilot Program”, first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas are set aside also for investors in regional centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.The EB-5 Regional Center Program thus enables growth of the U.S. economy by overseas investors who are required to meet minimum investment and job creation requirements.

The Non-Minister Religious Worker Program functions by way of a special immigrant category that has been established for foreign national ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations to immigrate to or adjust status in the United States for the purpose of performing religious work. Although there exists a cap of 5,000 workers who may be issued a special immigrant non-ministerreligious worker visa during each fiscal year, there is no cap for special immigrant religious workers entering the United States solely for the purpose of carrying on the vocation of a minister.

E-Verify is a free, Internet-based service that enables employers to electronically verify that newly hired employees are authorized to work in the United States by voluntarily comparing information from an employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data from U.S. government records. More than 300,000 employers use the program, including the federal government, legislative branch and contractors.

The Conrad State 30 J-1 program waives the two-year residence requirement under the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program for international medical graduates who have completed their medical education in the United States, and have chosen to work at least three years in practice sites located in federally-designated health professional shortage areas (HPSA) or a medically underserved area (MUA).

For more information about any of these programs, please feel free to contact Elizabeth Chatham at 480-733-6800 or echatham@davismiles.com. Ms. Chatham was recently recognized by her peers as one of the Best Lawyers in America, and offers comprehensive immigration services for individuals, businesses, and investors.