WASHINGTON – Aug. 14, 2015 – Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer says Congress must reauthorize the EB-5 visa program’s “regional centers” before the program expires Sept. 30 – but reauthorization should include measures to improve the program’s transparency and accountability.
The EB-5 program allows foreign citizens to acquire a U.S. visa by investing a minimum of $500,000 in an American business that, in turn, creates at least 10 jobs. Beyond the benefits to the residential real estate market from immigrant home sales, it has also become a targeted source of capital in the commercial real estate industry.
Miami, for example, has targeted money from the EB-5 program to help fund affordable housing programs and created its own EB-5 regional center to help bankroll projects.
About 11,000 foreigners applied to take part in the EB-5 program during the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 – an increase from 6,346 a year earlier and 486 in 2006.
The Real Estate Roundtable’s suggested reforms are similar to ones outlined in an Aug. 12 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.