The number of applications for the controversial investments-for-visas program climbed to just under 17,791 in 2015, up from just over 11,744 in 2014 and 6,554 in 2013, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services… A total of 21,988 applications were pending at the end of 2015, at least a five year backlog for most investors, who usually seek several visas for family members, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Real Deal
The EB-5 visa was created by the U.S. Immigration Act of 1990. The program allows foreign investors to obtain a green card in exchange for investing money in the United States for the purposes of creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers (excluding the investor or their immediate family). The investment requirement is $1,000,000, or $500,000 in a “Targeted Employment Area” (a high unemployment or rural area).
An entire real estate specialty has sprung up around the concept of EB-5 visas, with developers, lawyers and agents specializing in matching green-card seeking investors with program compliant developments. As The Real Deal article noted, ‘the surge was fueled in part by concerns that key features of the program wouldn’t be renewed by the U.S. Congress.” Congress was reviewing amendments meant to address some of the problems and abuses of the program, but ultimately extended it without revisions.
In Miami, Jeff Berkowitz’s controversial SkyRise Miami project has been one of the city’s most public participants in the EB-5 program.
Other projects in Miami include Panorama Tower in Brickell, SR Healthcare Group’s Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), a restaurant, a charter school, and a health club.