EB-5 News Archive for April, 2012
Senator Leahy chairs Department of Homeland Security oversight hearing with Secretary Janet Napolitano.
By Renata Castro
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a Department of Homeland Security oversight hearing on April 25th, with Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman of the Committee, voiced his satisfaction that Secretary Napolitano recommended the continuation of the EB-5 Regional Center Program. The continuation of the EB-5 Regional Center Program was also recommended by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Senator Leahy stated:
This job-creating, immigration-through-investment visa helps harness our immigration system to strengthen our economy and help our business leaders attract talented people from around the world. I look forward to the reauthorization of this program. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and I have been working together to get this and other expiring visa programs reauthorized in a bipartisan manner. As we move forward, I also hope to continue working with you and with USCIS Director Mayorkas to strengthen and improve the EB-5 program so that it may continue to be a job creator for our communities, and to ensure that the agency has the tools it needs to maintain the highest level of integrity in the program.
Senator Lahey emphasized his engagement in getting the program renewed, alongside Senator Chuck Grassley in a bipartisan effort to continue this successful job creation investment vehicle that has captured hundreds of millions of dollars for the US economy.
Timing is just right for such news, as the EB-5 pilot program is due to sunset on September 30, 2012.
What is the EB-5 Visa Program?
The EB-5 Visa program is an employment-based visa which is intended to promote the flow of assets into the U.S. economy and at the same time to promote the creation of jobs in the United States for legal U.S. residents.
To achieve these goals and so that overseas investors may obtain immigration benefits for having made an investment, the program mandates that the minimum investment a foreign investors must contribute is either USD$1,000,000 for a regular EB-5 Investment Visa or USD$500,000 for an EB-5 Regional Center program. In addition the program mandates that 10 full-time jobs must be created as a result of each investment. The Investor is entitled to a return on their investment and is eligible to sell their interest in the venture after a period of 5 years. Additionally foreign investors and their qualifying family members are offered the prospect (not guarantee) of Lawful Permanent Residence in the United States.
Projects being considered for investment are designed to qualify under requirements in the law that permit reduced investment and that also permit creation of indirect jobs for U.S. Citizens. This approval is not granted to the respective EB-5 project unless the project can prove that they fit within the designated Regional Center guidelines that are established by the United States Citizens and Immigration Service (USCIS).
The Regional Center Pilot Program
The Immigrant Investor Pilot Program (“Pilot Program”) was created by Section 610 of Public Law 102-395 (October 6, 1992). This is different in certain ways from the basic EB-5 investor program. The Pilot Program began in accordance with a Congressional mandate aimed at stimulating economic activity and creating jobs for U.S. workers, while simultaneously affording eligible aliens the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents. Through this innovative program, foreign investors are encouraged to invest funds in an economic unit known as a “Regional Center.”
A Regional Center is defined as any economic unit, public or private, engaged in the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment that has been designated and approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).
A link to the webcast of the oversight hearing can be found here.
A family from Denmark enjoyed the warm climate of the southern United States and wanted to escape the frigid winter months for many years. They had already purchased real estate in Central Florida and used the home as a vacation property. During one of their trips to the U.S. they heard of the EB-5 Program through some of their friends who happened to be applying for an Investor Visa. The couple wanted to retire and move to the United States and also wanted for their children to attend school here in the U.S. so that they could eventually attend university here. They inquired from their friends how to start the application process and their friends suggested because there were now so many more choices of EB-5 projects to choose from that they consider hiring experienced EB-5 consultants. The friends also noted that they found the EB-5 process to be a bit overwhelming and confusing at times.
The couple did extensive research online and eventually the offices of Exclusive Visas and inquired about our services and asked how we could assist them in choosing the right EB-5 Regional Center Project for them to consider and assist them in choosing a qualified and experienced attorney. This family had been travelling to the U.S. for many years and over that time frame they had come to own several pieces of real estate and planned to sell one of the properties as a source of funds for the EB-5 investment and wanted to make sure that everything would be in order with the application. After several meetings and conference calls, the couple was able to determine which project they felt was the most stable and met their preferences; they were able to sell their property within a few months and worked together with Exclusive Visas and the Immigration Attorney to properly document the source of funds so they could transfer the money into the EB-5 projects escrow account. The project met all the USCIS guidelines and less than six months the family’s I-526 petition was approved by the USCIS and they are now preparing to relocate to the United States at the end of the school year in Denmark so their children can begin school in the Unites States later this year.