Wednesday, 2 November 2011

New Proposed Bill Would Offer Temporary Visas for Foreign Residential Real Estate Investors

A new legislative bill introduced by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) proposes to offer a temporary residency visa to immigrants who spend at least $500,000 on a home in the United States. This bill, which received bipartisan support, will soon be considered by the U.S. Congress as a new way to stimulate a struggling U.S. housing market.

While not the same as the noted EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa program, which offers a path to citizenship for foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in a U.S. business enterprise that leads to at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers, the newly proposed housing bill will provide a new and novel method for foreign nationals to enter and remain in the U.S. through investment.

The U.S. housing market is currently struggling; this new, proposed bill may give a boom to this market. In areas of the U.S. especially hurt by the recession, such as South Florida, Southern California and Arizona, many foreign nationals are currently purchasing homes. Immigrants from China, Canada and other nations are now taking advantage of favorable exchange rates and reasonable real estate costs in these and other areas of the U.S. In fact, just over 5 percent of all homes bought in Miami in July 2011 were purchased by foreign buyers. In Phoenix, that number is just a bit lower, at 4.3 percent. For the year ending in March 2011, foreign buyers were responsible for up to $82 billion in investments in U.S. real estate properties, an increase from the $66 billion reported the year before.

Current market analysts see many advantages to the U.S. economy from the Schumer-Lee bill, if approved by Congress and the President. Under the proposed bill, immigrants will need to invest at least $500,000 in U.S. residential real estate. This can be a house, condo or townhouse. Applicants are given the opportunity to invest part of the required $500,000 on a single home and the rest on other residential real estate property, such as a rental home.

These investors would then be given temporary, three-year visas to enter the U.S. Under this particular visa, however, foreign investors will not be able to work. They will have to obtain other visas to be able to work while in the U.S. (such as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa). Supporters of the bill believe it will help spearhead growth in the U.S. real estate market, which has been struggling since the housing market bubble burst earlier this decade.

The bill has received support from many high-profile individuals, including Warren Buffet who recently told Charlie Rose (of PBS) that, “If you wanted to change your immigration policy so that you let 500,000 families in, but they have to have a significant net worth and everything, you’d solve things very quickly.”

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Thursday, 14 July 2011

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program: An Exceptional Opportunity to Invest in Major Hotel Projects in the United States

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa program has been available for a number of years in different forms; the program, however, has received much more interest from foreign investors in China, India and other international locations in recent years. Funding from the EB-5 program has been used for a number of construction and investment projects, including major hotel projects. In recent years, the EB-5 program has been used to support projects to improve California’s W Hotel and Residences Hollywood (a major project with 305 luxury hotel rooms and nearly 150 private residences, as well as about 25,000 square feet of meeting space. In addition, EB-5 investors have funded construction of a Courtyard and a Residence Inn in New York, and a Westin Hotel in Flushing, New York.

The EB-5 immigrant investor visa program is an exceptional way for investors from China, India and beyond to invest in interesting projects in the hotel and other industries and obtain a path to citizenship. The program continues to grow. In the first half of Fiscal Year 2011, there were nearly 2,000 applications for EB-5 visas; the majority of these applications were from mainland China. In FY 2010, there were 1,885 applications.

Because the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program requires that investors provide at least $500,000 in funds and their investments lead to the creation of at least ten jobs for U.S. workers, the program is ideally situated for hotel investments, in which multiple employees are hired and maintained. This is a strong reason to investigate opportunities in the hotel industry, of which there are many.

What is the EB-5 program? The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa created in 1990 for foreign nationals who invest in a business that will benefit the U.S. economy and create at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers. EB-5 applicants who are accepted for the program receive a visa; visas are also given to eligible spouses and children under the age of 21. The visa proffered is a conditional visa; if the investment project fulfills the requirements of the program after two years, the EB-5 immigrant may then receive permanent resident status and, after five years, apply for U.S. citizenship.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

EB-5 Investor Centers Peak in New York, Across the Nation

Just a few years ago, there were only 11 Immigrant Investor Regional Centers in the United States. Today, there are nearly 150. In New York alone, four new centers were approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services this year alone. These centers, which enable foreign nationals from areas across the world to obtain green cards through major economic investments, are bringing new life to areas stunted by the economic downturn and are supporting growth in areas already established as economic centers – including New York City itself.

There’s the New York City Regional Center, which has raised $60 million for growth projects in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, as well as $65 for a Brooklyn-based film and TV studio. That center is now looking into even larger funded projects, including a nearly $250 million investment set to help develop a Brooklyn basketball arena.

There’s the New York Immigration Fund, which is currently pulling together investments for two NY hotels. And there are the Federal New York Metropolitan Regional Center, which is supporting the development of a medical center in Flushing, and the Manhattan Regional Center, which is attempting to raise funds to build a 385-room hotel in Manhattan and a major assisted-living establishment in Brooklyn.

These investments are lauded by many in the U.S. because immigrant investor visa-funded projects do not depend upon tax funds to support high growth projects. They, instead, depend upon foreign nationals who are looking for ways to establish permanent residency in the United States.

Foreign investors, who invest at least $500,000 into a project that leads to the establishment of 10 jobs for U.S. workers, are given temporary permanent visas which, if the projects are successful, can lead to permanent resident status and, eventually, citizenship.

Interest in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program continues to grow. At the end of July, an investment summit will take place in Boston, Mass., in which representatives from the U.S., China and Korea will discuss ways that investors and other stakeholders can take advantage of this major immigration and investment program. Such conferences and summits are taking place across the nation as more and more regional centers open and seek interested foreign national investors.

USCIS Approves Six New EB-5 Regional Centers

USCIS has approved six new EB-5 Regional Centers in California, Georgia, Hawaii and Oregon under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Visa Program. These centers will enable immigrants who are investing $500,000 or more the option of obtaining a temporary green card and a path to citizenship.


The California Golden Fund, with a geographic focus of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernadino counties, will focus on the following industries: accommodations; food services; professional, scientific and technical services; manufacturing; retail trade; and construction.

The Global Premier America Regional Center LLC, with a geographic focus of Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, Alameda, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and San Francisco counties, will focus on the following industries: retail trade; food services; and healthcare and social assistance.

The Inland Empire Renewable Energy Regional Center, LLC, with a geographic focus of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, will focus on the following industries: administrative services; business support services; retail; distribution; education; construction; and engineering and design.


The Georgia Regional Center, LLC, with a geographic focus of the metro Atlanta area (including Barrow, DeKalb, Lamar, Bartow, Douglas, Meriwether, Butts, Fayette, Newton, Carroll, Forsyth, Paulding, Cherokee, Fulton, Pickens, Clayton, Gwinnett, Pike, Cobb, Haralson, Rockdale, Coweta, Spalding, Dawson, Henry, Walton and Jasper counties), will focus on the development of student housing projects in greater Atlanta. This regional center has been approved to develop EB-5 investment projects that focus on student housing, real estate construction, education services and food services.


The Hawaiian Islands Regional Center, LLC, with a geographic focus of Hawaii, will focus on nursing care facilities; home health care services; management of companies and enterprises; and construction.


The Oregon Regional Center, with a geographic scope of Oregon, will focus on the following industries: manufacturing; retail trade; professional, scientific and technical services; education services; healthcare and social assistance; and accommodations and food services.

The EB-5 Visa is an employment-based immigrant visa, created in the Immigration Act of 1990. Under this visa category, up to 10,000 immigrant visas can be offered each year to qualified individuals seeking to permanently remain in the U.S. based on their investment in a commercial business. In 1993, Congress began the Immigrant Investor Visa Program to better utilize this visa category. Through the creation of Regional Centers, the U.S. government hoped to increase the amount of people that would take advantage of this novel and economically advantageous method to immigrate to the United States, while creating jobs and economic growth for U.S. regions.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Buck Johns Marketing EB-5 Investors Elsewhere

The City Council Tuesday night will continue debating whether to take U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to court, fighting the agency's decision to terminate Victorville's visa investor program and cut off funds the city was counting on to finance its wastewater treatment plant.

Meanwhile, Inland Energy President William Buck Johns, hired by the city in 2009 to line up $25 million in loans from aspiring immigrants, has started marketing Victorville's investors to other EB-5 regional centers.

“We did meet with Buck (Johns) and there is talk that some of their investors would reapply under our program,” Henry Liebman, founder of EB-5 program American Life Inc. in Washington, said via email Monday.

Johns didn’t respond to a request for comment, and Mayor Ryan McEachron said the move was news to him.

USCIS approved Victorville's EB-5 regional center in July 2009, allowing the city and its marketing partners such as Inland to solicit foreign citizens willing to loan $500,000 toward qualified projects in exchange for temporary green cards. But Victorville's program became the first in the nation to be terminated in October, with USCIS citing concerns over whether it satisfied the agency’s strict requirement for job creation.

The city had formally accepted 17 loans through the program for a total of $8.5 million, though Economic Development Director Keith Metzler said only $7.5 million was transferred to Victorville before the termination. The other $1 million stayed in an escrow account managed by Johns, Metzler said.

Read More: Buck Johns marketing EB-5 investors elsewhere

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

USCIS Proposes Changes to I-924 Processing in EB-5 Program Applications

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor program was created in 1990 to help create jobs and international investment in the United States. Interested investors may petition to participate on their own or as part of a Regional Center, designated as such by USCIS. Investors can petition for the EB-5 visa on Form I-526 or for Regional Center designation on Form I-924. The proposal process is, however, quite complex, and involves a series of documents, including business plans supported by expert analyses and other key information. This process can be arduous and, according to many stakeholders and petitioners, is not ideal.

In response to concerns voiced by stakeholders and petitioners, USCIS has submitted a series of proposed changes to the processing of EB-5 immigration cases. These changes will change the ways in which EB-5 program applications are processed.

Applications for Regional Center status are submitted via Form I-924 in one of two ways:

First, an actual application presents a “shovel-ready” business project that is adequately developed to support the immediate filing of I-526 petitions by interested foreign investors. These applications include business plans, economic analyses, information about capital-investment structures, information about the anticipated regional economic impact of such a center, as well as other detailed information.

A second application type, the exemplar application, proposes a feasible project that is not yet shovel-ready, along with an exemplar I-526 petition, to allow USCIS to determine if the project is EB-5 compliant. This application type enables USCIS to approve a new project in principle before the business project is actually underway.

USCIS has published the following proposed changes to EB-5 processing; public comments will be accepted until June 17, 2011.

1 – Enabling accelerated and premium processing for shovel-ready cases: USCIS proposes to prioritize actually I-924 applications so that projects that are ready for implementation can be approved in the timeliest fashion. USCIS will offer accelerated target processing times for actual Regional Center petitions and will additionally allow petitioners to request premium processing of their I-924 applications. Additionally, accelerated target processing times will also apply to subsequent filings of I-526 petitions; these petitioners will also be allowed to request premium processing of their petitions.

2 – Creation of special intake teams for I-924 petitions: USCIS proposes to create special intake teams, who will handle the initial intake and review of all I-924 applications. These teams will be made up of experts in economic development and analysis and in EB-5 program requirements, and will include economists, business analysts and adjudicators.

3 – An enhanced decision process for I-924 petitions: USCIS also proposes to empower an expert I-924 Decision Board to make decisions regarding the EB-5 compliancy of I-924 petitions. This board will include a USCIS economist and two USCIS adjudicators and will be assisted by a legal support team. This board will be able to approve the I-924 petition, request additional information or issue a Notice of Intent to Deny. In the latter case, the applicant will have the opportunity to schedule an in-person or telephone interview to discuss this final decision.

Monday, 23 May 2011

The U.S Immigration Department has Proposed Significant Updates to EB-5 Visa Processing

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today proposed significant enhancements to the administration of the Immigrant Investor Program, commonly referred to as the EB-5 Program. The Proposal was made public by USCIS and a summary of the proposal was forwarded to Mr. Darren Silver, Principal Attorney of Darren Silver & Associates.

Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services made public a proposal to modify the existing protocol on how EB-5 Regional Center applications are processed and reviewed. USCIS is proposing three fundamental changes to the way it processes EB-5 Regional Center filings. This proposal has been reviewed and is summarized below by Mr. Darren Silver, Principal Attorney of Darren Silver & Associates.

First, USCIS proposes to accelerate its processing of applications for job-creating projects that are fully developed and ready to be implemented. USCIS will also give these EB-5 applicants and petitioners the option to request Premium Processing Service, which guarantees processing within 15 calendar daysfor an additional fee.

Second, USCIS proposes the creation of new specialized intake teams with expertise in economic analysis and the EB-5 Program requirements. EB-5 Regional Center applicants will be able to communicate directly with the specialized intake teams via e-mail to streamline the resolution of issues and quickly address questions or needs related to their applications.

Third, USCIS proposes to convene an expert Decision Board to render decisions regarding EB-5 Regional Center applications. The Decision Board will be composed of an economist and adjudicators and will be supported by legal counsel.

This proposal will be online until June 17, 2011, for public comment —providing stakeholders an opportunity to offer feedback on the proposed changes to the administration of the EB-5 Program.

Mr. Darren Silver, a prominent Immigration Lawyer in the field, whose Firm Darren Silver and Associates specializes in EB-5/Regional Center Immigration believes that action is important to prevent the significant delays that are currently plaguing adjudication. Mr. Silver commends USCIS for realizing that even moderate delays in the adjudication process for some of these Regional Center projects can cause serious financial stain to those projects. He believes that action calling for the expeditious processing of Regional Center certification will be well received in the Legal Community.

Mr. Silver can be contacted directly through his website Darren Silver & Associates which is one of the Nations' preeminent Immigration Law Firms with a focus on Investment Immigration law.

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