Tuesday, September 13, 2016

As Foreign Corporations Profit from EB-5 Investments, U.S. Benefits in Question

Sep 12, 2016 (For Immediate Release) WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is raising concern about how the EB-5 immigrant investor program is allowing networks of foreign participants to syphon the economic benefits away from the American people living in areas that the program was created to assist.  In a letter today to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Grassley discussed how foreign entities are profiting from playing a more central role in EB-5 projects, some of which cater to investors from the real estate developers’ home countries rather than those living in the regions that the program was designed to serve.

“Permitting foreign ownership of a regional center improperly allows foreign corporations to acquire interests in U.S. real estate projects, market U.S. green cards to foreign investors, and in some cases gain significant profits from selling EB-5 developed products, i.e. new homes, to foreign investors.  Moreover, EB-5 investment projects that create a tangible output, such as a real estate development, that is principally if not exclusively available for the enjoyment only of the foreign investors themselves, have a snake-eating-its-own-tail quality about them that Congress absolutely did not intend; they subordinate any benefit to the American people actually living in the Targeted Employment Area to the benefit of wealthy foreign investors.,” Grassley said in the letter.

The EB-5 program was established to promote commercial investment in the United States by granting visas in exchange for foreign investments of $1 million, or $500,000 in economically depressed areas of the country.  People living in those areas would then benefit from the economic and tangible outputs from the projects.  However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may have approved of projects in which foreign entities control every step of the program, from project ownership to investor recruitment to the final marketing of the project’s output.  Grassley cited several examples in the letter, including projects in New York, Texas and Illinois.