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Recently, an I-4 Commercial Corridor conference was held in Lakeland Florida at the Florida Polytechnic Institute. The I-4 corridor stretches from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach and travels through the Orlando and Disney World Resort areas. The I-4 corridor is one of the fastest growing and developing areas in all of Florida. Perhaps it is no surprise to many familiar with commercial real estate development, but the EB-5 visa program has played an integral role in driving this growth.

At a recent meeting to discuss commercial real estate investment opportunities, EB-5 investments were featured prominently. Furthermore, many of the speakers believe that EB-5 investments will continue to play a key role in driving commercial investment. Despite the frequent use of the program currently, many in the industry still seem to believe that Florida’s share of EB-5 investments could be increased significantly.

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Foreign Investment in the United States Continues to Increase

The Lakeland ledger reports that, at the conference, a number of speaks emphasized the fact that foreign investment in the United States continues to grow. In 2015, foreign investment into the country totaled roughly $75 billion. This is more than double the foreign investment into the U.S. a decade earlier in 2005. In fact, according to the senior financial policy analyst for commercial real estate at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, foreign commercial investment into the U.S. represented more than 2- percent of all commercial activity in 2015.

EB-5 Visa is Encouraging Foreign Commercial Investment in the U.S.

One of the major forces behind driving increased foreign investment in the United States is the EB-5 investor visa program. Under the EB-5 program, a foreign investor can invest a minimum of $500,000 if the project is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or $1 million if it is not. This minimum investment must be used as part of a USCIS approved business plan to create or preserve full-time jobs for U.S. citizens. Provided that the  EB-5 investment meets these and other strict requirements, the immigrant investor and qualifying family members can be granted a temporary green card. Investors must petition. After a period of years, EB-5 petitioners must file with USCIS to remove the conditions on their green card to make it permanent.

Further EB-5 Growth Is Expected in Florida

There is certainly a level of uncertainty currently surrounding the EB-5 program. While some U.S. Senators have threatened to shut down the EB-5 program altogether, most people expect the changes to be more measured. However, most do expect that terms will soon be revised in a manner that is less favorable to investors. Some proposed changes to EB-5 have included reforming how tracts are defined to reduce gerrymandering, increasing minimum investment amounts, and requiring additional documentation and evidence from the EB-5 investor. Furthermore, the program has attracted additional attention and scrutiny from regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Despite these challenges, most expect Florida’s share of the EB-5 pie to continue to grow. While gateway cities like New York and Los Angeles have secured the most EB-5 funding, certain compelling characteristics of Florida are attracting an increased share of these funds. For instance, Florida can offer investors larger tracts of land closer to major population centers than can be found in New York or Los Angeles. This may allow EB-5 Regional Centers and investors to pursue projects that would not be viable in other areas. While EB-5 investments into Florida from 2010 to 2013 totaled more than a quarter billion dollars, many believe that the state could significantly increase this investment.

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Part of this growth in investment, some say, will come from attracting development from a broad swath of nations. Currently, investments from China dominate the EB-5 program. However, in recent years, there has been significant growth in interest from a number of South American, Middle Eastern, and other Asian nations. Florida’s ability to attract investment from these new sources of EB-5 funding will play a major role in how the program develops in the state.

Considering an EB-5 Investment for a Green Card? Contact a Tama EB-5 Visa Lawyer

If you are considering becoming an immigrant investor to secure a green card for yourself and qualifying family members, work with an experienced Tampa investor visa lawyer. The EB-5 program is complex and the investor will have to supply extensive paperwork and evidence regarding the investment. Mistakes made in the process can potentially jeopardize the immigration benefit. The attorneys of Colombo & Hurd are dedicated to guiding immigrant investors through the EB-5 process. To schedule a confidential consultation at our Orlando or Miami law offices or online, call us at 1-800-549-5523 today.

Colombo Hurd, PL

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