EB-5 News Archive for July, 2010
Construction on Building 1 of the University of Miami Life Science and Technology Park is moving along ahead of schedule, according to a source close to the project.
The EB-5 regional center behind this project is BirchLEAF Miami 31 Regional Center, which is seeking to help fund the effort through the EB-5 visa program.
The EB-5 visa program allows foreign nationals to earn U.S. green cards by investing in American businesses. If they invest $1 million in a U.S. business and that investment creates or preserves 10 jobs, they become eligible for their green card.
EB-5 regional centers help direct and manage foreign investments. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website, EB-5 regional centers can be “any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment.”
Some of these centers, like BirchLEAF Miami 31 Regional Center, are designated Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) and only $500,000 need be invested in them. These TEAs are defined by law as “an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average,” according to the USCIS website.
The BirchLEAF Miami 31 Regional Center is seeking to raise $20 million of the more than $100 million project through the EB-5 visa program, according to a news release
The University of Miami Life Science and Technology Park project appears poised to meet and exceed the job creation needs of its investors, as The Jacob France Institute of the Merrick School of Business at the University of Baltimore estimates that during construction, more than 1,200 jobs will be created. In addition, the Institute estimates that the project will create 1,500 jobs when the building is up and running, with an average salary of $50,000.
The BirchLEAF Miami 31 Regional Center has retained the services of EB-5 consulting firm, Exclusive Visas, to help guide them through the ins-and-outs of the EB-5 visa program. Exclusive Visas showcased the University of Miami Life Science and Technology Park project to potential EB-5 investors on recent trips to Caracas, Venezuela and Beijing, China.
According to Joe Sloboda, Exclusive Visas Co-Founder and Vice President of Project Development, “the project has been met with a very positive response from foreign nationals considering the EB-5 program as an avenue to enter the United States.”
A development project in Cleveland stalled because of the lack of funds caused by the recession, but the EB-5 visa program may be able to rescue it.
In 2005, developer Scott Wolstein revealed his plans for the Flats East Bank Project in Cleveland, which would include a boutique hotel, restaurants, housing and retail space, according to WCPN, an NPR affiliate. The price tag for the project was about $500 million, and once the financial crisis hit funding dried up.
However, a group of foreign nationals from such countries as China, England and Brazil invested $20 million in the project to help get it off the ground through the EB-5 visa program.
The EB-5 visa program was started in 1990 to help attract foreign capital to U.S. businesses. Under the program, foreign nationals who invest $1 million (or in some designated areas, $500,000) in an American business become fast tracked for U.S. green cards if the investment leads to the creation or preservation of 10 jobs.
According to the news source, the number of investors who have received green cards through the EB-5 program has almost tripled since the recession.
Eddy Zai, an immigrant himself who runs the Cleveland International Fund, an EB-5 regional center, says that investors in the program are generally not concerned with getting a substantial return on their investment, but rather with living in America.
“Primarily it’s education for the children and healthcare—access to healthcare—for themselves. And Cleveland has, fortunately, is a leader in both those two areas,” he told the radio station.
EB-5 regional centers were created in 1993 to help direct and manage foreign investment coming in through the EB-5 visa program. These centers can be “any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website.
Despite the advantages for both immigrants and U.S. businesses, some people are wary of the EB-5 visa program.
“I think most Americans would find it inherently objectionable that we’re selling admission to the United States,” Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform told the news provider. “We have always prided ourselves in this country on being a meritocracy. And the people who have the most money are not necessarily the most desirable people to have in the country, the people who are the most likely to contribute.”
Zai counters that the EB-5 visa program is simply like first class versus coach on an airplane.
Backers of a high-tech cancer treatment facility are hoping that they can find foreign nationals to help fund the expensive project through the EB-5 visa program.
The New York Department of Health is reviewing three different proposals from groups that want to bring a proton beam cancer treatment facility to the state, according to Crain’s New York Business. This technology allows cancer killing radiation to be administered in precisely focused doses, however the building of such a facility will likely cost more than $200 million.
One of the proposals plans to spend $273 million to build a proton beam cancer treatment facility in Queens. The news source says that of the three proposals, the Queens one is the most controversial because of its reliance on politicians. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Representative Ed Towns and State Senate Majority Leader John Thompson have come out in support of the Queens project, reports the news source.
The backers of the Queens site have filed a request with the Department of Homeland Security to allow them to raise $250 million through the EB-5 visa program.
Started in 1990 to help U.S. businesses gain better access to foreign capital, the EB-5 visa program gives foreign nationals a chance to earn a U.S. green card. If foreigners invest $1 million in an American business and that investment leads to the creation or preservation of 10 jobs, they become green card eligible. Some areas of the country, like the site of the proposed Queens project, are designated as Targeted Employment Areas, which are distinguished by having an unemployment rate that is at least 150 percent of the national average. Only $500,000 need be invested in such areas.
Schumer recently wrote to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) supporting the Queens proposal “to raise $250 million of foreign investment to construct a much-needed groundbreaking cancer treatment facility in New York City that will create an estimated 2,800 jobs and save countless American lives.”
Earlier in the year, Towns also wrote to the USCIS expressing his support for the Queens proposal.
“It is encouraging to have the opportunity to support a project with enormous potential to stimulate job creation and economic growth in New York by attracting foreign investor capital,” he wrote, according to the news provider.
In keeping up with the promises of the Obama administration, federal officials recently announced a system that will make it easier for families and lawyers to find people being held at 250 detention facilities around the country.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has put a search tool on its website that is similar to the system used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, according to the Associated Press. The reform is part of President Barack Obama’s effort to make the detention facilities more transparent and human.
Those looking for people being held in these immigration detention facilities can search for the person by either using his or her name or the “alien” number that is given to those who immigrate to the U.S. or end up in the custody of U.S. immigration.
According to the news source, about 30,000 people are being held by immigration authorities on any given day.
Hopefully the new search tool will be as an effective innovation for U.S. immigration as the EB-5 visa program, which gives foreign nationals a chance to earn American green cards by investing in American businesses.
The recent economic downturn has had a number of negative effects, and one of the most serious of these is the drying up of capital. Banks and other lending institutions have been more wary of issuing loans, leaving many projects unable to procure funding. Fortunately, the EB-5 visa program allows businesses to receive much-needed capital from foreign investors.
Virg Bernero, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Michigan, appears to recognize the importance of the EB-5 visa program. In response to a question posed by Crain’s Detroit Business asking, “What is the top action you would take to create jobs?” Bernero spoke of his Main Street Michigan Agenda.
“[The] Main Street Michigan Agenda includes reforming the MBT to reward job creation and export-oriented production, establishes a state bank to provide credit to small businesses, creates green manufacturing zones at former auto sites and establishes EB-5 regional centers across the state to attract foreign investment,” he told the news source.
By embracing the EB-5 visa program, Bernero might be able to provide Michigan businesses with capital they otherwise might not be able to obtain.
Under the EB-5 visa program, foreign nationals can earn U.S. green cards if they invest $1 million (or in some areas $500,000) in an American business and that investment creates 10 jobs.