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Senate Immigration Reform Bill Introduced

April 26, 2013

Immigration reform remains a top priority of the Administration and many in Congress. On April 16, 2013, a bipartisan group of 8 Senators introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill, S. 744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.  The Senate Judiciary Committee has begun a series of hearings on the measure. Although not certain, passage of a comprehensive reform package looks more promising than it has in many years.

While the bill is truly a comprehensive reform measure encompassing a broad array of issues, including border security issues, a number of real estate-related provisions are of particular interest to NAR. These include language that permanently reauthorizes the EB-5 immigrant investor regional center pilot program; makes changes to the H-2B visa program which is important to the economies of many second home and resort communities; and creates two new non-immigrant retiree visas.

The retiree visa provisions contained in the bill were first proposed in 2011/2012 by Senators Schumer (D-NY) and Lee (R-UT) as a part of S. 1746, the Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act (VISIT-USA Act), and S. 3199, the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel Act of 2012 (JOLT Act). These provisions create (1) an non-immigrant Canadian retiree visa that would allow Canadians 55 years and older who have a rental agreement for lodging or  own a US home in the US to stay as long as 240 days each year, and (2) an non-immigrant retiree visa for foreign nationals 55 years of age or older who purchase a principal residence (or a personal residence plus other residential properties) valued at $500,000 or more and who agree to stay in the US for a period of not less than 180 days per year.

The Senate bill is the subject of hearings already scheduled in the Senate. In the House, conversations have begun to consider the development of a House measure.  NAR staff will work to address bill text drafting issues in the Senate bill which need to be addressed and analyze the House measure when introduced.