Programs Set to SunsetThere are several immigration programs scheduled to expire on September 30, 2015 if Congress does not act.  While some of these have been fraught with error and waste and would be fine to let ride off into the sunset (E-Verify, I’m looking at you), others are necessary components of our currently-broken and hobbling immigration policy.

The biggest of these is the EB-5 regional center pilot program.  There are currently 697 approved regional centers relying on investment from EB-5 petitioners.  If the petitioner invests $1,000,000 (or $500,000 in certain areas) and creates ten jobs in the United States, they can obtain permanent residence. The program has experienced much controversy in the last few years. It’s hard to say whether this program is going to exist after September 30, 2015 or in what form.

Although EB-5 is probably the most notorious, two other programs scheduled to sunset are arguably more important for employers and beneficiaries.  The non-minister religious worker visa (which permits certain religious workers to come work for religious institutions and obtain permanent residence) is on the chopping block too.  This program is critical and hopefully will be renewed.

The other important program set to expire is the CONRAD 30 waiver program, which allows doctors who studied in the United States as J-1 visa holders more flexibility in waiving the standard two-year out of country requirement.

Finally, E-Verify is set to expire, and hopefully it will do so without much fanfare.  Aside from the system returning false-positives, which has led to US workers being denied jobs because employers incorrectly believed they lacked immigration status, the underlying premise of a big-data solution to employer compliance with verification laws is a serious problem.  If for no other reason, the massive data breaches at the Office of Personell Management where Chinese hackers made off with untold amounts of classified information and data on federal employees, the government should not put employers’ and individuals’ information into a massive database like E-verify without being able to secure it.

Will Congress act?  Hopefully so, but it’s not at all clear. An extension would probably be part of the Budget for the coming year, which also expires on September 30.  But Congress is already talking about a government shutdown to fight over defunding Planned Parenthood.  It’s definitely a wait-and-see moment for these programs.