EB-5 Visas: A Smarter, Cleaner PlanThu, 04/05/2012 - 11:16 — admin
The New Republic
April 4, 2012
A more than 20-year old program, long underutilized, is slowly emerging as a potential lifeline for regional economic development for some metro areas and states at a time when traditional financing streams are running dry.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program—created as part of the Immigration Act of 1990—allocates 10,000 green cards per year to foreigners who invest $1 million (or $500,000 in a targeted employment area) in qualifying U.S. businesses that create or preserve at least 10 jobs. Three thousand green cards are set aside annually for designated “regional centers” as part of the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program created by Congress in 1992 with the purpose of concentrating pooled investments in defined economic zones.
Even though the EB-5 program has been around since 1990, it is only in the last few years that state and local economic development officials have begun to look toward using EB-5 for development in target sectors. Austin, Tex. has recently proposed creating the state’s first regional center that will focus specifically on green tech and renewable energy projects. It would be one among eight other regional centers in Arizona, California, Michigan, and Nevada that are geared toward renewable energy development. Other regional centers have focused on other industry sectors with considerable success, such as the redevelopment of former military bases into mixed-use projects.