Sunday, November 27, 2011
From the San Francisco Examiner:
A visa program that puts rich foreigners who invest in the U.S. on the road to citizenship is picking up steam and could one day lead to hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in Bay Area investments, backers say.
In recent years, the once-sleepy EB-5 visa program has become the focus of global entrepreneurs on the hunt for secure investments and U.S. officials looking for ways to buoy a flailing U.S. economy.
Under the program, noncitizen investors who spend a million dollars — or $500,000 in an area with at least 150 percent of national unemployment — can qualify for an immigration visa that leads to a green card in two years. The catch: Their investment must create or maintain at least 10 U.S. jobs.
More such visas were requested last year than in any year since the program began in 1990, according to Marie Sebrechts, spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A staggering 40.9 percent of those came from China.
Yet none of several regional center chiefs could name a single Bay Area project already undertaken with EB-5 money. In fact, many centers have had trouble closing a single deal funded by EB-5 investors. Read more...