Connecticut mayor pushes EB-5 visa program
Calling foreign investment a priority for his administration, Norwich, Connecticut Mayor Peter Nystrom is looking to capitalize on the federal EB-5 visa program to secure such funding for local businesses, the Norwich Bulletin reports.
Through the EB-5 visa program, foreign nationals have an opportunity to gain U.S. green card eligibility by making an investment of $1 million (or $500,000 in some areas) in an American project or company that either creates or maintains at least 10 full-time jobs.
In a recent meeting that brought together a number of state and local officials, former U.S. Representative Rob Simmons made a presentation regarding his visit to the city of Wuxi, China, in October, according to the news provider.
Simmons, who made the trip in order to find potential business partners and bring foreign funding to Norwich, said that the overall key to securing such investments was the EB-5 program.
"There’s a lot of opportunity here," Simmons said of Norwich. "But we have to capture it."
Attorney Dana Bucin added that creating an EB-5 regional center would be a critical step in paving the way for foreign investment to Norwich.
"There are currently EB-5 regional centers in 36 states," Bucin explained. "California has 31 of their own. Connecticut has none."
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an EB-5 regional center is "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."
While Connecticut itself does not currently have any EB-5 regional centers – putting it at a disadvantage, according to Bucin – the Manhattan, New York regional center's geographical scope includes the Connecticut counties of Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven, according to the USCIS.
Bucin added that investors from China – who secured the most EB-5 visas in fiscal 2009 – are the major users of the program.
"China is where it’s at," she said. "They want to come here and are willing to invest their money to secure a green card."
Simmons explained that Norwich was an extremely attractive location for potential Chinese investors due to the area's growing Chinese population, according to the news provider.