The new Donald Trump immigration ban has sparked a surge in interest in the US EB-5 visa from citizens of the six targeted countries.
Although the new order does not come into force until March 16, 2017 – and is also the subject of two legal challenges – investors who may have been considering applying for the EB-5 program are now rushing to get their applications in before it is too late.
The latest Trump immigration ban attempts to bar foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from USA immigration for 90 days. It also suspends the USA refugee program for 120 days.
The Trump administration says the ban is necessary while a system of extreme vetting is established for immigration candidates.
Current US EB-5 Investment Requirements
- An EB-5 investor must invest in a new commercial enterprise.
- The investor must invest at least $1 million when investing in a general area of business or at least $500,000 when investing in a targeted employment area (“Regional Centres”).
- Within two years of admission as a Conditional Permanent Resident, the investor must create or preserve at least 10 full-time, direct or indirect jobs belonging to qualified US workers.
- See Tax Implications of Gaining Permanent Residence Through US EB-5 Visa.
With the future possibility of USA immigration uncertain, there has been a reported surge in interest of 200 per cent for the EB-5 program from citizens of the six affected countries.
Potential EB-5 clients do not only have the Trump immigration ban to worry about, as it remains unclear what the president intends to do with the controversial program itself.
Despite Trump’s anti-immigration position, real estate industry sources firmly believe he will separate the crackdown from a program that has generated billions in foreign investment from mainly Chinese candidates.
The current program is subject to a temporary extension that expires on April 28, 2017.
There have been calls for the investment threshold to increase, with separate proposals suggesting $800,000 and $1.3 million respectively as the minimum requirement, but nothing has gained significant traction.
It has faced criticism from several sources, who want it abolished. There are several ongoing court cases linked to potential EB-5 fraud. There are calls for a body to be formed to oversee these transactions, to ensure transparency.
Fraud Cases Linked to EB-5
- The developer behind a biomedical research facility in Vermont, which benefitted from EB-5 funding, is currently being investigated for misusing the money. The project had attracted $83 million of investment from 166 foreigners, many of them Chinese, who now risk losing their money. Developer Ariel Quiros, and several of his associates, stand accused of using the funding to buy a ski resort, a luxury New York condo and to pay tax bills.
- Developer Lobsang Dargey was accused of defrauding Chinese investors out of money for a tower in Belltown. Dargey no longer has control of the project and denies any wrongdoing.
- American Life, a recipient of more than $1 billion in EB-5 investment money, was fined $1.2 million for facilitating payments to unlicensed intermediaries in the U.S.
- EB-5 Investors Left In Limbo By Trump Travel Ban
- Trump Widely Expected to Support Lucrative U.S. EB-5 Program
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