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EB-5: An Established Market

The EB5 visa program was practically unknown ten years ago. Only sixty-five visas were issued under the program in 2003. Fast forward to 2014 and all ten thousand visa slots for the Sept 2013 through August 2014 fiscal year have been allocated. The program is not only thriving but an immigration linked securities market has in fact been developed based upon it. Advancements include:

  • Market Development Group Established. The Association to Invest in America (IIUSA®), a not-for-profit trade industry, was created in 2005 to provide educational and related resources to support the industry and promote the permanent authorization of the EB5 regional center program by Congress.

  • Regional Centers opened across the country. As of June 2, 2014, the USCIS has approved approximately 579 regional centers over the course of the program.

  • Expansion of EB5 unit at USCIS. USCIS is working to bring more transparency, efficiency and resources to the EB5 program. The organization is in the process of hiring more qualified staff to help improve processing times for various EB5 forms and increase its competency in the due diligence department. Personnel was increased to about 80 people last year and headquarters was relocated from California to Washington, DC with the program head now reporting directly to the Deputy Director of USCIS - changes indicative of the program's growing importance.

What spurred such dramatic interest in the program? The 2008 financial crisis closed down the credit markets. Entrepreneurs looking to start a new business or expand their existing business were not being helped in the domestic market and the opportunity to leverage the EB5 program to fill a gap in the financial system was born.

For FY2005-2013, the EB5 program:

In 2012 alone, the program:

Despite all these advances and headlines in major media outlets the program is still not very well known and what is known is often misunderstood. Many associate EB5 deals with small franchise businesses or questionable operations but in recent years a multitude of well-known large scale enterprises across the country have been funded by this channel. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn (Jay Z and Bruce Ratner are known coinvestors), the Hudson Navy Yards, Pennsylvania Convention Center, restaurants at Revel in Atlantic City, Marriott Hotel, Holiday Inn and the Charles Hotel in Manhattan, SLS hotel in Las Vegas and the W hotel in Los Angeles. These are all well-established reputable projects.

Private developers are not the only ones who see the program’s potential. States and municipalities are embracing the program and developing projects and facilities to boost employment and positively impact their residents. Vermont and Michigan both set up state operated regional centers. Miami and Dallas have regional centers designed to offer positive externalities to the public in addition to employment and several other states have public-private partnerships that engage private companies to operate state backed programs.

Across the nation the EB5 tool is being used to create jobs, build businesses and deliver the American Dream for investors and entrepreneurs alike. Fortune 1000 developers, states and many other highly placed institutions have been reaping the rewards of this program. The program’s popularity cannot be overstated. It was ‘sold out’ last year and is already on track to be ‘sold out’ this year. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about how you can level the playing field and reap the same benefits as the titans of industry.

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