Friday, September 15, 2017

How Rich Chinese Use Visa Fixers to Move to the U.S.

(Source: Bloomberg) Have a spare $500,000 to invest in an economically distressed American area (that actually isn't distressed at all)? China's EB-5 fixers will help you every step of the way. Read story here. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

4 reasons why EB-5 visa programme is the best for studying abroad in the US

(Source:  India Today) You were probably unaware of the EB-5 visa programme. Here is why it is the best choice to study abroad in the US. Most Indians seeking a future in the US pursue the well-known F1 and H1-B visa programmes. However, a lesser known programme, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, has recently caught the attention of many Indians. Through the EB-5 program, an immigrant may invest USD 500,000 in a new US business, and upon verification that the capital has been legally sourced and the business has created at least 10 full-time jobs, the investor will secure green cards for themself and their family (spouse and children under 21). Read story at here.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Congress Approves Package of Government Continuance and Public Safety Measures, Including Important Immigration Programs

(Source: EB5Insights.com) The president and congressional leaders reached an agreement earlier this week on a package of government continuance and public safety measures.  This package includes a Continuing Resolution, Debt Extension, Hurricane Harvey relief resources, and extension of the National Flood Insurance Program. The extension maintains and continues government funding and reauthorization until Dec. 8, 2017. The Senate approved the negotiated agreement on a bipartisan 80-17 vote on Sept. 7 with House approval on Sept. 8 by a vote of 316-90.

The continuance provisions include important Immigration measures, such as EB-5, E-Verify, Conrad 30, and Religious Workers. It is expected that the president will sign this agreement.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The EB-5 Visa Program: Balancing Risk and Opportunity

(Source: RIS Media) For a quarter-century, the EB-5 visa program has helped finance economic development projects across America, sparking job growth and business investment in cities, suburbs and rural regions throughout the U.S.—all at no cost to the taxpayer. EB-5-funded projects span a diverse range of regions and industries, from charter schools in Utah and manufacturing plants in South Carolina to mixed-use commercial property in downtown Washington, D.C. The Brookings Institute estimates the EB-5 program has generated at least $5 billion in investment and directly created at least 85,500 American jobs since its creation, with most of these gains realized since 2010.

In addition to direct jobs, the EB-5 program has supported the creation of countless other indirect jobs in communities surrounding EB-5 projects. For example, a manufacturing plant built with EB-5 investment may create new growth opportunities for parts suppliers, while a new EB-5-funded hotel can generate more demand for local restaurants and retail shops. That’s a hefty economic punch for a program that represents just 2.9 percent of all employment-based visas.

Regulated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the EB-5 program provides a path to citizenship to foreign investor-entrepreneurs that can approve up to 10,000 visas each year. The initial application requires proof of investment in a qualified project, evidence of an investment of at least $500,000 and the creation of at least 10 U.S. jobs. EB-5 applicants undergo two rounds of extensive background checks administered by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State. This screening process is more robust than any other employment-based visa program, and pays for itself through fees.

Most EB-5 applications come through one of the approved regional centers, which market the program abroad, pool investment and often facilitate the development of EB-5 projects. In the past 10 years, the EB-5 Regional Center Program has increased the number of EB-5 applications and supported the development of projects, substantially increasing the number of visas awarded and jobs created by the program. 

The EB-5 Regional Center Program has been reauthorized every three years since its creation in 1992 by broad bipartisan margins. It is up for reauthorization again in September 2017. The National Association of REALTORS® supports legislation to reauthorize the EB-5 Regional Center Program before it expires. NAR also supports reforms to the EB-5 program that would address national security concerns, deter fraud and put Americans to work. If not reauthorized by September 30, an estimated 6.8 billion in foreign investment dollars and as many as 130,000 American jobs will be lost.

Congress has considered reforming the EB-5 program for several years, but has never been able to enact a reform bill, in part because of differences on three key issues:
  1. How to define rural and high unemployment areas
  2. Whether the EB-5 program should have special visa allocations for projects in rural and distressed urban areas
  3. What the minimum investment amount should be
This year may finally see enactment of an EB-5 reform bill. Areas to be reformed could include:
  • Permanently authorize the EB-5 Regional Center Program
  • Require regional centers to disclose financial statements related to EB-5 projects
  • Institute a screening process of the owners and managers of regional centers
  • Create a new process for evaluating foreign ownership of regional centers
  • Require investors to comply with additional regulations and laws
Although there is not a lot of time to enact a bill by September, there is hope that Congress will put integrity measures in place that will provide investors and U.S. officials with much needed certainty and security

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Jay Peak Receiver Has Lots on His Plate After Partial Settlement

(Source: Daily Business Review) A Fort Lauderdale attorney assigned to protect immigrant investors in the Jay Peak ski resort fraud has distributed about $10 million, with more likely to come since the resort's owner agreed not to fight the allegations. Ariel Quiros agreed Aug. 22 not to challenge claims from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that he misused $200 million in EB-5 investor funds meant for a Vermont ski resort and associated projects. Quiros has agreed to a permanent injunction that will bar him from selling securities or participating in the EB-5 program. The program, run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, allows investors to obtain a visa by funding at least 10 full-time positions at a new commercial enterprise.

Quiros' agreement with the SEC does not include any admission of wrongdoing, and the parties have yet to negotiate the amount of any disgorgement or penalties. Michael Goldberg, a partner at Akerman who is the court-appointed receiver for Jay Peak, had a busy summer after the financial services company Raymond James Financial Inc. agreed to pay $150 million to fraud victims. The agreement settled claims that Raymond James employees helped Quiros and his business partner divert investor funds. The receivership has paid a $5.1 million trade debt in full and distributed $2 million to contractors who were owed for work done on the Stateside Hotel, Goldberg said Tuesday.
Investors in ANC Bio—a biomedical facility that won't be completed—have received $500,000 each if they requested their funds be returned, Goldberg said. The distributions total about $10 million so far.

Goldberg said his key focus now is to make sure the two hotels that were part of the project create enough jobs to allow the investors to secure green cards through the EB-5 program as intended. "This is an extremely important aspect of this case as the immigration issues are just as important as the money to many investors," Goldberg said in an email. Goldberg said he is also helping with efforts to amend EB-5 laws to benefit fraud victims. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have supported such changes. The $20 million Stateside project is set to finish construction by the end of the year, Goldberg said. The project includes 60 cottages, a recreational center and lacrosse and soccer fields.

The only pending litigation in the case is the lawsuit against Quiros, Goldberg said, but other companies are in talks to provide funds to the receivership. "We have numerous tolling agreements in place and we are speaking with several potential targets about a possible resolution of our claims," he said. U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles of the Southern District of Florida in Miami presides over the SEC case. Miami-based SEC attorneys Christopher Martin and Robert Levenson represent the government agency, and Quiros is represented by Melissa Visconti and Melanie Damian of Damian & Valori in Miami.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Is there a future for EB-5 investment in Vermont?

(Source: Burlington Free Press)  One way or another, Vermont is closing its EB-5 Regional Center after 20 years, following one of the biggest fraud investigations in the federal program's history. Jay Peak partners Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger are accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the state of misusing $200 million of foreign investors' money. Both the state and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees the EB-5 program, agree the Regional Center's days are numbered. Whether those days are few, or many, is up for debate. Read more at http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New EB-5 regional cneters

New EB-5 regional centers have recently been designated:
  • Liberty Regional Investment Center (Georgia)
  • Nevada First National Regional Center (Arizona, Nevada)
  • Pass2NY Regional Center (New York)
  • USA New York Liberty EB-5 Regional Center (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Jared Kushner’s Family Business Turns to Crisis Management Firm Amid Federal Scrutiny

(Source: Breitbart) White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner’s family business has changed its public relations firm to one that reportedly specializes in crisis communications, possibly due to increased scrutiny into the firm’s dealings.

Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Kushner Companies, Trump’s son-in-law’s family business, will now have its PR matters handled by Eric Wachter, a vice president at Finsbury. Wachter replaces Risa Heller Communications and his firm specializes in crisis management, litigation, and government investigations as well as other matters, according to Bloomberg. As of Thursday, Wachter’s name is listed as the press contact on the firm’s official website.

Kushner has stepped down from the business and sold his personal stake in the company, but the firm has remained in the spotlight due to its connection to the president’s senior adviser. Bloomberg noted that the move comes shortly after Kushner testified behind closed doors to Senate and House committees about alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Senate Democrats have asked about a meeting Kushner had during the transition with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, and whether the business was discussed in that meeting. 

The Washington Post reported in June that Kushner’s business dealings were a topic of interest for FBI special counsel Robert Mueller as he investigates allegations of Russian interference. However, Politico reported that it was Risa Heller, a Democratic operative who used to work for Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who made the decision to drop the firm as the work became increasingly related to politics. The outlet reported that the decision arose amid the outrage surrounding Trump’s response to the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Kushner Companies has also come under heavy scrutiny for its use of an immigration-for-investment scheme and for promoting the scheme to Chinese investors earlier this year. The business was reportedly subpoenaed in May in relation to a development, One Journal Square, that was financed by a visa program known as EB-5. That program offers green cards to potential immigrants as long as they “Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.”

Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, made a pitch to Chinese investors in May for the project and an ad for the event said, “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.”

The Kushner family later apologized for mentioning its connection to the Trump administration in the pitch.

Friday, August 25, 2017

5 Things We Learned from USCIS’ Webinar on the Form I-924A, Annual Certificate of Regional Center

On August 24, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) hosted a webinar on the Form I-924A, Annual Certificate of Regional Center (“Form I-924A”).  The Form I-924A is required to be submitted by EB-5 Regional Centers to demonstrate continued eligibility for its regional center designation. Check out Wolfsdorf Rosenthal's 5 things learned from webinar here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Related seeks $30M more in EB-5 financing for Hudson Yards

(Source: The Real Deal) Related Companies is seeking $30 million more in EB-5 financing for 35 and 55 Hudson Yards and the Western Rail Yards.

The company is looking for $10 million each for 35 and 55 Hudson Yards — respectively, a 1.1 million-square-foot mixed-use tower and a 1.7 million-square-foot office building — after requesting hundreds of millions of dollars for the towers two months ago, New York YIMBY reported. In June, Related and Oxford Properties Group sought $380 million for the towers and for a platform over the rail yards. The companies have reportedly raised at least $600 million for other buildings at Hudson Yards. Last year, the developers landed a $1.2 billion loan from the Children’s Investment Fund for 35 Hudson Yards.

The other $10 million will cover roughly 50 percent of the Western Rail Yards’ platform.

The EB-5 materials also showed new renderings for 50 Hudson Yards, a 2.9-million-square-foot office tower designed by Norman Foster and anchored by fund manager Blackrock. The tower will rise 985 feet tall, roughly 300 feet shorter than 30 Hudson Yards. It’s expected to be complete by 2022, and is in the process of negotiating a $2.5 billion financing package, as The Real Deal reported in May.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Vermont closing EB-5 center following massive Jay Peak fraud case

(Source: Burlington Free Press) After years of touting Vermont's Regional Center as uniquely suited to guarantee the legitimacy of homegrown EB-5 projects, the state announced late Monday afternoon the center would be "winding down," taking on no new projects.

The Scott Administration's announcement comes as the federal department that oversees the EB-5 program, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, filed a notice of intent to terminate Vermont's Regional Center.

The decision comes in the wake of one of the biggest fraud cases in the history of the national EB-5 program. The accused are Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger, who managed EB-5 projects at Jay Peak and elsewhere in the Northeast Kingdom. The partners were accused last year of misusing some $200 million of investor funds, with Quiros accused of benefiting personally from about $50 million.

The federal decision to terminate the Vermont center was based on "the alleged fraud perpetrated by Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger, for which the state is currently pursuing a civil fraud case," the governor's office said in a statement.

The state says it received the notice of USCIS's intent to terminate the center after the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation submitted a report to the governor's office recommending that the regional center be phased out. The regional center will continue to oversee existing projects at Mount Snow and SouthFace Village at Okemo. Read complete story at Burlington Free Press

Friday, August 18, 2017

Receiver’s offer to AnC Bio investors: $500,000 refunds or ‘redeploy’ it

(Source: VTdigger.org) More than 130 EB-5 investors in a proposed $110 million biomedical research facility in Newport later deemed by regulators “nearly a complete fraud” have a choice to make. But the clock is ticking.

The investors have until Aug. 31 to decide to either get back their $500,000 investment in AnC Bio Vermont, or put the money toward another project approved by a court to raise funds through the federal EB-5 visa program. Read more at https://vtdigger.org/

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

EB-5 Current Status in China

Many regional centers and developers have been asking a lot questions about Chinese market and the current mindset of migration agents and investors alike.  As everyone knows that the EB-5 Regional Center Program will expire on September 30, 2017. Based upon our daily communications with emigration professionals across China who are constantly asking for updates on the program,  here are some quick thoughts on upcoming legislative actions and status of Chinese market.Hope a permanent legislation will pass by the end of September.  To learn more about investments from China, please contact us at artisanbusiness@yahoo.com

Under current EB-5 Regional Center Program
  1. Retrogression has real impact and Chinese market is slowing down due to uncertainties on EB-5 legislation.
  2. Fraud as a negative impact on marketing of legit projects.
  3. Without changes to current program, we will see a 50% drop of subscriptions (Approximately 8,000 visas reduced to 4,000 visas) in the coming year.
Under new EB-5 Regional Center Program
  1. Chinese market will slowly bounce back when investors realize more certainties with the program
  2. $800,000 investment level is not an issue for investors; retrogression is an issue.
  3. Investors will find a way to wire money out despite tighter restrictions.
  4. Good and solid rural projects will be considered by both migration agents and investors since they receive priority consideration under new program. 
  5. Real estate projects continue to be popular among Chinese investors.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Delshah raises $52M in Tel Aviv for $250M Morningside Heights project

(Source: The Real Deal) Israeli road show veteran Micheal Shah raised $52 million in a bond issuance on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to finance a $250 million redevelopment project in Morningside Heights. The total falls short of Shah’s $63 million offer, and carries a fixed interest rate of 6.15 percent, the maximum allowed under the terms of the offer.

Shah planned to finance the project — which would convert a five-building complex at 30 Morningside Drive to high-end rentals — with a combination of a roughly $130 million construction loan, $70 million in bonds raised in Tel Aviv, and $50 million from capital sources, including EB-5 money, according to a bondholder presentation.

His company, Delshah Capital, purchased the complex for $102 million in 2014, also with funds raised in Tel Aviv. He plans to convert it to 205 high-end rentals.

Unlike previous bonds, Shah’s offer gives the bondholders membership interest in the entity that owns 30 Morningside, putting them in the second position in the capital stack. Up to $30 million in excess EB-5 money would serve as a cushion for paying back the bond money, Shah said. Delshah thus far has raised $12.5 million in Eb-5 funds, out of a possible $50 million, Shah said.

The real estate firm previously had about $120 million in the Israeli bond market and Shah’s first substantial payment, of close to $22 million, is due in 2021. Delshah has 14 properties in its portfolio at a value of $623 million, according to the rating company Midroog. The rating company put the Delshah’s loan-to-value ratio at 40 percent and loan-to-capital ratio at 50 percent, which will rise to up to 61 percent once the financing for the Morningside Heights project is included.

The company recently closed on a $28 million loan from Cantor Commercial Real Estate to refinance two properties in New York, at 69 Gansevoort and 58-60 Ninth Avenue. The five-year loan carries a 4.25 percent interest rate.

In May of 2016 The Real Deal published a detailed feature that shows how U.S. real estate players raise money on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

SEC civil case filed against Chicago attorney

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil action against Chicago Immigration Attorney Seyed Taher Kameli, who raised nearly $89 million dollars from 2009-2016. Read the details of case file from the SEC here