Texas city seeks EB-5 regional center status
The McAllen, Texas City Commission, in partnership with the city's Economic Development Corporation (EDC), has submitted an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to receive EB-5 regional center status, the Rio Grande Guardian reports.
The EB-5 visa program allows foreign nationals to obtain U.S. green card eligibility if they make an investment of $1 million (or $500,000 in some areas of the country) in an American project or company that creates or maintains at least 10 full-time jobs.
According to the USCIS, an EB-5 regional center is defined as "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."
Keith Patridge, president and CEO of the McAllen EDC, told the news provider that part of the reason for the application was to appeal to wealthy Mexicans considering fleeing their country due to the country's drug cartel violence.
"Partially what caused us to go after this EB-5 Regional Center status is what is happening in Mexico and the fact that we have a lot of foreign people with money," explained Patridge. "Because of security reasons, these people are saying, 'I've got to get my family out of here.' They are looking for investment opportunities."
Patridge added that he and other members of the EDC know some potential EB-5 investors from Mexico personally.
"Having the regional center status will help our community but it will also help our friends in Mexico," he said. "Many of them we have known for a very long time. They are in a very difficult situation. In some cases it is a question of life and death. If there is some way we can help extract them from those situations we want to do it."
The city is reportedly expecting to receive approval for EB-5 regional center status by early next year, according to Patridge. The regional center will then service the entire Hidalgo County, he said.
Patridge added that despite the fact that regional center status had not yet been approved, the city has been presented with approximately $1 billion to be considered, an investment that could create up to 12,000 jobs.
"I am excited about the program. It is going to give us another tool to work with," he said.