I recently completed a three-year term as chairman of the EB-5 Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Based on that experience, as well as my experience representing investors, regional centers, developers and businesses seeking capital, I have a number of thoughts on the present state of the EB-5 program and how it can be enhanced with the goal of maximizing the job-creating potential of the program that Congress envisioned.
First, some background. The EB-5 program, which stands for employment-based fifth preference within the immigration quota system, enables an immigrant to obtain a green card (permanent residence status) based upon an investment of $500,000 (or $1 million in certain geographical areas) in a commercial enterprise that will create new employment for 10 U.S. workers. Today, 90-95 percent of all EB-5 applications involve investments in “regional centers,” which sponsor pooled investment projects, the most common of which are hotels, office buildings, mixed-use facilities, condominiums, nursing homes and entertainment facilities, among others. Unlike a direct EB-5, a regional center EB-5 allows an investor to count not only direct employees of the enterprise but also “indirect and induced” employment in the community created as a result of the building of the new facility or expansion of the existing business.
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