EB-5 regional center in Florida gets USCIS approval
An EB-5 regional center in southwest Florida recently received approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
The Charlotte Harbor Regional Center gained the approval is now ready to undertake its first project, the Charlotte Harbor Marina, according to a news release. The USCIS's designation makes both Sarasota and Charlotte counties part of the regional center.
According to the release, the Charlotte Harbor Marina project it will be the first full-service marina facility in the U.S. that was developed using financing from the EB-5 visa program.
This program was started in 1990 to help American businesses attract foreign investment. If a foreign national invests $1 million in a U.S. business and that investment leads to the creation or preservation of 10 jobs, then the investor becomes eligible for a U.S. green card.
A great deal of these foreign investments are handled through EB-5 visa centers, which help direct and manage the projects. According to the USCIS, they 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 EB-5 regional centers, including the Charlotte Harbor Regional Center, are located in what are termed as Targeted Employment Areas. These regions are defined by law as "a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average." In order to attract investment in these economically struggling areas, only a $500,000 investment is required.
The Charlotte Harbor Regional Center expects to generate over 700 direct, indirect and induced jobs in the area in categories including construction, retail, office space, restaurant, marina, sales, real estate and manufacturing, according to the release.
The release says that "Charlotte Harbor is located in Southwest Florida's world-class boating and fishing area in the proximity of 60,000 registered boat owners."
Additionally, the press release cites CNN/Money Magazine 2009 as having named the Port Charlotte area as the number one best place to retire in the United States.
In the fiscal year 2009, 4,218 foreign nationals became U.S. green card eligible through the EB-5 visa program, according to the USCIS. Of those, 1,979 were from China, making it the country with by far the most participants in the EB-5 visa program.