EB-5 News Archive for February, 2010
Though the EB-5 visa program has been a favored option for many European and East Asian immigrants, the federal initiative, and other similar investor visas are gaining a reputation among Mexican immigrants as well.
Specifically, immigration lawyers have said that escalating violence in Mexico has prompted more wealthy residents of the neighboring country to relocate to Houston, Texas through the U.S. government’s E2 visa program, the Houston Chronicle reports.
“Partially, I was looking for peace and tranquility,” Emanuel Parra, a Mexican entrepreneur who moved to Houston through the E2 visa program, told the news source.
He added, “We lived in a nice area in Mexico, buy my wife would say ‘Don’t let the boys play outside because they will be robbed.’”
Participation in the E2 program requires that an immigrant invest at least $150,000 in a new or existing U.S. company, in exchange for a temporary two-year visa, which he or she may attempt to renew every other year.
As opposed to EB-5 visa holders, E2 status immigrants are not allowed to leave the U.S. for more than six months at any time.
In addition, under the EB-5 visa program, investors are able to receive permanent residency in the U.S. as early as two years after their initial immigration application is accepted.
On Thursday, the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), a trade group representing the U.S. venture capital industry, praised the newly-introduced StartUp Visa Act of 2010 as a crucial tool to spur economic growth in the country.
The bill, sponsored by Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Dick Lugar of Indiana, proposes to issue two-year visas to entrepreneurs looking to immigrate to the U.S. who can demonstrate that they have accumulated at least $250,000 in financial backing from a U.S. investor.
For several years, the NVCA has been calling for an expansion of the current EB-5 visa program, citing the history of immigrant entrepreneurs launching successful businesses in the country that employ many American citizens, the American Chronicle reports.
A 2006 study commissioned by the NVCA found that about one-quarter of public venture-backed companies in the U.S. were founded by immigrants. Some of the more prominent enterprises include Intel, eBay, Yahoo! and Google.
Mark Heesen, the trade association’s president, told the news source, “Venture-backed companies employ millions of Americans and many of them would not be here today were it not for the immigrant entrepreneur who founded them.
He added, “This bill will help to ensure that the best and brightest innovate and grow their companies in the U.S.”
On Wednesday, a prominent national tech group offered resounding approval in response to the StartUp Visa Act of 2010, a measure that effectively aims to expand the EB-5 visa program by making U.S. visas available to immigrants eyeing the country as location to launch a startup.
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) predicted in a letter that if the bill is passed, the tech sector would experience a particularly high level of job growth, given the track record that foreign workers have at cultivating innovative firms in the U.S., TheHill.com reports.
“Foreign-born entrepreneurs have developed thousands upon thousands of new innovations, technologies and start-up companies in America,” ITIC’s president Dean Garfield told the news source.
He added that “many went on to create such high tech companies as Intel, eBay, and Sun Microsystems, to name only a few.”
Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Dick Lugar, the committee’s ranking member, introduced the immigration bill on Wednesday.
The act proposes to grant two-year visas to foreign entrepreneurs who can show that a U.S. investor is willing to contribute at least $250,000 to their startup enterprise.
As increasingly more U.S. enterprises seek foreign investment by achieving EB-5 regional center status, the suggestion that an EB-5 investment opportunity can expedite the process to U.S. residence has caught the attention of a growing number of South Koreans.
In 1990, the U.S. government began issuing green cards to immigrants who invested at least $1 million in a U.S. business, under the EB-5 visa program.
Between 2006 and 2008, a total of 1,454 Koreans obtained green cards through the program, the highest total of any of the 67 countries that participated. Additionally, through 2009, Koreans were estimated to have invested about $400 million in U.S. commerce, the South Korean news provider Chosun Ilbo reports.
Aside from obtaining a green card, EB-5 investors enjoy lower tuition fees for education in the U.S.
“I decided to apply for the immigration program with the children’s education in mind,” one EB-5 visa holder told the news source.
She added, “I tell people that immigration through investment is the easiest and quickest way to get a green card.”
In total, 70 percent of all EB-5 visas issued in 2009 were split between people of Chinese and South Korean descent, the Washington Post reports.
For months, lawmakers and economists have discussed the merits of offering a U.S. visa to immigrants who are looking to launch a new business in the country, thereby expanding the measures of the existing EB-5 visa program.
On Wednesday, February 24, Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, took a big step by unveiling legislation designed to take steps to that end, the Economic Times reports.
The senators’ proposal, dubbed the StartUp Visa Act of 2010, proposes to grant two-year visas to international entrepreneurs who can show that a U.S. investor is willing to contribute at least $250,000 to the startup enterprise.
John Kerry told the news source, “Creating a new magnet for innovations and innovators to come to the U.S. and create jobs will offer our economy a double shot in the arm – robust job creation at home and reaffirmation that we’re the world’s best place to do business.”
Drawing on the visas made available under the EB-5 visa program, the new bill would amend immigration law and create an EB-6 category, reports the news provider.
Immigrants given EB-6 status would have two years to show the he or she has created at least five full-time U.S. jobs and made at least $1 million in investments or revenue to be eligible for permanent legal resident status.