Friday, February 17, 2017

Top regional center chief says Obama’s EB-5 tweaks would decimate program


(Source: The Real Deal) Just before President Obama left office, the Department of Homeland Security proposed some serious rule changes to the EB-5 visa program, which awards green cards to foreign nationals investing in job-creating U.S. projects. The government currently gives out 10,000 of these visas a year, the overwhelming majority of them to Chinese investors investing in real estate development projects. In the wake of a number of scandals related to fraudulent investment activity, dirty money, and skepticism about how many jobs the program really creates, the Obama administration proposed raising the minimum investment threshold to more than double what it is now, shallowing the pool of eligible investors. While some advocates of the program have been quiet about what those changes might mean, Angelique Brunner, head of Washington’s EB5 Capital regional centers and spokesperson for the EB-5 Investment Coalition, a major lobbying group, said the proposed rules would spell the end of the program as we know it. “Undoubtedly the numbers in the regulations will kill the the program,” Brunner told The Real Deal. “The market cannot bear those numbers… I think you would see as much as a 90-percent dropoff in demand.”

In areas with high unemployment, DHS wants to raise the minimum project investment to $1.35 million from $500,000, and in areas with low to average unemployment, the rules propose moving the threshold to $1.8 million from $1 million. Another major change would be putting the federal government in charge of designating what qualifies as a high-unemployment area, ending the practice of redrawing census maps to allow areas such as Hudson Yards to be designated high-unemployment. Critics of EB-5 have said the practice is akin to gerrymandering. Enter President Trump. Brunner said the new administration understands the importance of the program in helping it reach its job-creation goals, and mentioned Jared Kushner’s own use of EB-5 for a project in New Jersey as evidence of that. “Mr. Trump’s family has used the EB-5 program successfully, so they do have personal experience with the success of the program,” she said. “This administration is really focused on job creation. We expect that focus to align well with the goals and impact of the EB-5 program.” Despite the administration’s recent travel ban on citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, Brunner said the EB-5 community has received “no negative messaging from the new administration” on the EB-5 issue.

“Our point is that there is no competition between national security and job creation,” she said. Estimates of how many jobs are created by EB-5 vary wildly. A recent study by the Chamber of Commerce found that EB-5 projects active in just 2012 and 2013 created nearly 175,000 jobs. But the Bipartisan Policy Center’s study from September 2015 pegged the total number of jobs created between 1992 and 2015 at just 77,150. If the DHS’ proposed regulations go through, aspiring investors are likely to put their money into other Western countries such as Canada, which is considering a revival of a similar immigration program, Brunner said. EB-5 stakeholders have until April to weigh in on DHS’ proposed rules. Meanwhile, it’s up to Congress to pass a long-term reauthorization of EB-5 or it will officially sunset that same month. Last month, senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced a bill to abolish the program, but EB-5’s considerable support in both houses means it’s not expected to gain much traction.

Some of the country’s biggest developers have spent large sums on lobbying efforts to keep EB-5 as-is. Related Companies, for example, which has raised $600 million in EB-5 funds for Hudson Yards, spent over $1.4 million in lobbying for the program since January 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported. Other builders who’ve lobbied for the program include Forest City Ratner, Silverstein Properties, and CIM Group.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

An immigration policy worth ending

(Source: Washington Post) PRESIDENT TRUMP says he wants to tighten those aspects of our nation’s immigration laws that reward low-priority entrants or pose threats to national security. He also insists that his critics have no reason to worry that his family’s far-flung business interests will have an impact on his administration’s policies. Well, a bipartisan pair of senators has just given him a golden opportunity to prove his bona fides on both points.

We refer to a freshly introduced bill co-sponsored by Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the committee’s ranking Democrat. Their proposal would abolish the EB-5 visa program, which began a quarter-century ago as a well-intentioned plan to attract international capital to the United States, but has morphed into a scandal-ridden embarrassment. The program awards permanent residency to a maximum of 10,000 foreigners per year who agree to pump at least $500,000 into a U.S. business, creating at least 10 jobs directly or indirectly. In September 2015, the Bipartisan Policy Center estimated that 44,000 people, a third of whom are foreign investors and the rest family members, had qualified for visas since the program began in 1992. A disproportionate number of those admitted recently come from communist China, whose nontransparent economy makes the origins of their wealth difficult to trace. A 2015 Government Accountability Office report found that the Department of Homeland Security lacked the capacity to vet EB-5 applicants from China and elsewhere adequately, let alone in the “extreme” manner now in vogue at the White House.

 In return, the Bipartisan Policy Center report found, the U.S. economy got 77,150 full-time jobs and approximately $4.2 billion in investment — paltry results, given that the United States has a total labor force of 150 million and $200 billion in annual foreign investment. To be sure, EB-5 has created a lot of jobs for consultants, lawyers and lobbyists, who get paid to entice wealthy foreigners into applying for the visas, and to persuade Congress to renew it each year. Alas, some EB-5 promoters have bent or broken the rules, as shown by a string of scandals, including the April 2016 federal seizure of an EB-5-funded project in Vermont that government lawyers called “rampant with fraud.” Even when the program functions honestly, its benefits skew heavily to big-city real estate developers, who use it to obtain financing more cheaply than they could from investors who were motivated by rate of return, not migration. Among the business owners to take advantage of EB-5 was Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, whose erstwhile company (he has now separated himself from it) raised $50 million for a Trump-branded apartment building in Jersey City from Chinese EB-5 applicants.

Getting strongly behind the Grassley-Feinstein bill would be a good way for Mr. Trump to show that his immigration policies reflect consistent principles, not his and his family’s involvement in the real estate business. The president has said he wants to be sure all new Americans come because they “love” the country. There are many ways to show that love, no doubt; but surely one of the least worthy of governmental favor is subsidizing hotels and apartments with one’s murkily obtained wealth.

Friday, February 10, 2017

ABG team to visit China

ABG team is to be in China for a week to visit migration agents, wealth managers and investment consultants in Shanghai, Jinan Shandong Province.  The purpose of the trip is to learn the latest trends of Chinese outbound investments.  Since Chinese government has implemented new measures on outbound capital, investors are struggling to send money out of country.  Chinese EB-5 market has also seen the slowdown. To learn more about Chinese market, contact us at artisanbusiness@yahoo.com

Thursday, February 9, 2017

即刻报名!2017年第一场中美投资论坛

美国波多黎各自由邦酝酿全新商机,百位中国企业家与中美重量级嘉宾齐聚2017年第一场美中商业投资论坛!探讨川普时代的美中贸易与投资机遇和挑战!

美国波多黎各总督Ricardo Rossello Nevares博士热忱欢迎中国企业家、驻美中资企业、旅美华人商业精英赴波多黎各首府圣胡安共襄盛举 - 3月1-3日中国投资论坛暨第四届美中商业协会美中杰出贡献奖颁奖仪式!今天就立刻报名!

三月论坛日程安排简要:
2月28日抵达美国波多黎各首府圣胡安
3月1日投资论坛与主题分组讨论会、总督招待酒会
3月2日全天商务考察、商务晚宴
3月3日项目考察和游览、与美国众议院外交委员会主席晚宴
3月4日返航或波多黎各自由行

2017年2月7日,美国波多黎各新总督Ricardo Rossello Nevares博士在上任后的首次新闻发布会中用中文“你好”作为开场白,讲述了他多年前于中国合伙人在北京和苏州开展生物医药工程业务的故事。在新闻发布会中,新总督Ricardo Rossello Nevares表示,由美国波多黎各政府、中国国际贸易促进委员会驻美代表处、盈科加勒比海中国中心,美中商业协会和雅商顾问集团主办,多家单位协办和支持赞助的2017年度第一场中美投资论坛将于三月一日至三日在美国波多黎各首府圣胡安隆重举行,这将是美国新任总统特朗普上台后第一场美中投资论坛。

美国领地波多黎各自由邦地理位置和政治地位非常独特,具有“加勒比海的新加坡”和“美国的后花园“的美誉,也是美国境内唯一的“避税天堂“,其所处的加勒比海地区景色优美、物产丰富,发展旅游业有着得天独厚的自然条件,是全球最具吸引力的旅游目的地和避税天堂之一。波多黎各经济的主要支柱是医疗医药制造业、服装制造、电子产品制造、航空航天等,清洁能源和高科技产业极具发展潜力,近十年来,旅游业得到了迅速发展,每年接待海内外观光客三百多万人次。 越来越多的波多黎各企业希望能与中国企业和投资者展开合作。

投资论坛将在波多黎各首府圣胡安市举行,届时将有来自中美两国,波多黎各官员,企业家,开发商,银行,投资者,律师,税务专家,及各个机构负责人齐聚一堂,通过这次盛会,使中国与波多黎各官员及企业家增加互信与了解,促进共同发展。欢迎中国企业家和旅美华人商界精英积极参加。

如果您有意参加这次投资论坛和考察波多黎各商业旅游资源,欲了解相关会议细节,请立刻联系美国雅商顾问集团电子信箱:artisanbusiness@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A quick note on Chinese market

After Chinese New Year, migration agents and investors are back to work! The month of April seems to be another concern! What is going to happen to the EB-5 regional center program? Is the program to be terminated or extended as usual? 

A lot questions and many uncertainties with the current EB-5 regional center program, however Chinese investors are certainly trying to beat the end of April deadline. To learn more about the latest market trends in China, a team from Artisan Business Group will be headed to China this weekend for a one week fact-finding trip.  

To learn more about EB-5 program, contact us at artisanbusiness@yahoo.com 

For Chinese Home Buyers, Seattle Is the New Vancouver

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New Legislation Introduced to End EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

(Source: NBC News)  Two United States senators have introduced legislation to end a controversial visa program popular with Chinese investors that gives out green cards in exchange for investments in American businesses that create jobs. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made their pitch to Congress last week to terminate the EB-5 program, which allows foreign investors to pump between $500,000 and $1 million into projects that spur at least 10 jobs. See report at http://www.nbcnews.com/news/

Friday, February 3, 2017

New EB-5 Regional Centers Approved

More new EB-5 regional centers have been approved.

  • Advantage America Seattle Regional Center (Washington)
  • CP Northern Regional Center (Michigan, Wisconsin)
  • California Agricultural Greenhouse Regional Center, LLC (California)
  • California Bond Finance Regional Center, LLC (California)
  • Greystone EB5 Northeast RC, LLC (Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia)
  • QueensFort Capital Texas Regional Center, LLC (Texas)
  • Texas Crown Regional Center, LLC (Texas)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

ABG to host US Investment Opportunities Forum in April



Artisan Business Group will be hosting the 2017 US Investment Opportunities Forum in Dallas Texas mid-April 2017. The 3-day professional training and business opportunity program will provide executive training for investment and wealth managers from China. The topics will cover direct investments, wealth management, real estate, insurance and immigration programs; on site visits and meetings with Dallas area business communities will be scheduled. Texas and City of Dallas have becoming more and more popular among investors and new immigrants from China.  Direct daily flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and business friendly environment in Dallas have been attracting many Chinese investors to consider Dallas and Texas as a new destination for their investments.

Corporate sponsorship program is available. Please contact us for complete details at artisanbusiness@yahoo.com 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Senator Feinstein & Senator Grassley introduce EB-5 Termination Bill

Senator Feinstein & Senator Grassley introduce a new bill to terminate the EB-5 Program including direct EB-5 and regional center programs. Follow the status of S.232 here.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

USCIS Drops the Hammer on the EB-5 Program by Announcing a 170% Proposed Increase on the Minimum Investment Amount for Targeted Employment Areas

(Source: Wolfsdorf Rosenthal) The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will dramatically change the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. DHS has given stakeholders only three months until April 11, 2017 to comment on the proposals. We will provide a more in-depth analysis soon but here are five important observations regarding the proposal:

1. Huge Increases in Minimum Investment Amount. DHS proposes to increase the standard minimum investment amount from $1 million to $1.8 million. This is an 80% increase. For those investors seeking to invest in a targeted employment area (TEA), DHS proposes to increase the minimum investment amount from $500,000 to $1.35 million, a 170% increase! In addition, DHS is proposing to make regular consumer price index-based adjustments every 5 years, beginning 5 years from the effective date of the regulations.
2. TEA Designations. There could be major changes to TEA designations. DHS proposes to allow any city or town with a population of 20,000 and an average unemployment rate of at least 150 percent of the national average rate, to qualify as a TEA. DHS also proposes to eliminate the ability of a state to designate certain geographic and political subdivisions as high-unemployment areas; instead, DHS would make such designations directly, on standards that are yet to be determined.
3. Priority Date Retention. In a positive move, DHS proposes to authorize certain EB-5 petitioners to retain their priority date, or place in the waiting line if they have an approved EB-5 immigrant petition so it can be used in a subsequent EB-5 immigrant petition. This will only occur when the new petitions must be filed due to circumstances beyond the investor’s control such as termination of Regional Center or if there is a material change in the business plan. This is very important for investors from Mainland China who are subject to a waiting line.
4. Removal of Conditions. DHS is proposing that derivative family members that were not included in a Form I-829 petition to remove conditions filed by the principal investor must file their own Form I-829. DHS is also proposing greater flexibility to require interviews for Form I-829 approval in a location where the investor is residing.
5. Management of NCE. DHS is proposing to eliminate references to “management” and the term “as opposed to maintaining a purely passive role in regard to the investment” in the regulation at 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(j)(5). Presently, it is required than an EB-5 investor be engaged in the management of the new commercial enterprise, either through the exercise of day-to-day managerial control or through policy formulation, as opposed to maintaining a purely passive role in regard to the investment. This point will be further clarified in the comments to follow.

These much-anticipated regulations will dramatically change the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. A huge increase in the minimum investment amount, without providing a solution for Mainland Chinese investors who make up over 80% of the program and who are waiting in a visa quota backlog, is flawed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

5 Things You Need to Know about New Proposed EB-5 Rulemaking

(Source: Wolfsdorf Rosenthal) Tomorrow, January 11, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register regarding regulatory changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. The goal of these proposed changes is to better reflect business realities for Regional Centers and EB-5 immigrant investors, to increase predictability and transparency in the adjudication process, to improve operational efficiency for USCIS, and to enhance the EB-5 Program’s integrity. Stakeholders will be given 90 days, until approximately April 11, 2017, to comment on the proposed regulations, and DHS will then finalize the regulations and implement them.
Here are five things you need to know:
  • At this Time, No Changes to Minimum Investment Amount or Definition of “Targeted Employment Area”. The new, proposed regulations do NOT tackle the issues of minimum investment amounts or make changes to the definition of “Targeted Employment Areas”. Instead, by publishing this advanced notice, DHS is providing a formal invitation to participate in shaping the proposed rule, and
 this publication starts the notice‐and‐comment process in motion. At this time, DHS is merely looking to make “operational and security updates to the Regional Center Program while minimizing the impact of such changes on regional center operations and EB-5 investors.”
  • Initial Regional Center Designation and Exemplar Approval Changes. DHS is seeking to split the process between obtaining initial Regional Center designation and obtaining EB-5 project approval via an exemplar. DHS would first require submission of a more general application for initial designation, and then, subsequent to designation, would require submission of a more specific application for approval of an exemplar project.
  • Mandatory Exemplar Process. This new exemplar process would be potentially required for both individual EB-5 immigrant petitions and for Regional Center designation. Thereafter, DHS would require the approval of such an exemplar before any investor may submit his or her EB-5 immigrant petition associated with a project covered by such request. In reality, this is already the case for many projects. DHS is also seeking comment on the “appropriate validity period for the approval of an exemplar project,” with a possible 2-3 year validity. DHS is also seeking comment on what would constitute a “material change” of an approved exemplar.
  • Safeguards for Monitoring and Oversight. DHS is looking for comments on potential methods for ensuring an appropriate level of monitoring and oversight to ensure that all Regional Center (a) use immigrant investor funds to promote economic growth, and (b) protect against the misuse of such funds. These methods could include Regional Center attestations, the submission of detailed information about the Regional Center’s oversight efforts of its NCEs and JCEs, and other compliance and enforcement mechanisms.
  • Continued Participation and Termination of Regional Centers DHS is considering changes to the regulations governing continued Regional Center designation, including changes that would require existing and newly designated regional centers to demonstrate that they continue to meet applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. These include (a) evidence of active participation in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, (b) periodic demonstrations that the Regional Center has active monitoring and oversight activities, and (c) prompt notification to DHS of significant changes to a Regional Center.
Additionally, DHS is considering explicitly listing as activities that would result in termination of the Regional Center. These include (a) failure to meet the continued participation requirements (b) obtaining designation by fraud or misrepresentation; (c) using unlawfully sourced funds to run regional center operations; or (d) misusing investor funds, including, but not limited to, use in any unlawful activity (e.g., Ponzi schemes). In conclusion, the much anticipated regulations are an important step forward to ensure the integrity of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. DHS is to be commended for its open-mindedness in reaching out to stakeholders for input as it develops new policy to improve the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program