Articles Posted in EB-5 Financing

Published on:

08 August 2016

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A primer on EB-5 and key issues in its renewal

 

What is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program?

The EB-5 immigrant investment visa program provides a “fast track” to obtain permanent U.S. residency (a “green card”) to qualified foreign investors who satisfy specified requirements, including investing at least $500,000 in a U.S. enterprise or project that creates at least 10 new permanent jobs for U.S. citizens, and otherwise comply with the immigration visa process.

The regional center pilot program

In addition to the basic permanent EB-5 legislation, a “pilot program” regarding Regional Centers (or RCs) was adopted in 1992. Although it has never lapsed, the Regional Center provisions have typically been renewed for relatively short periods (e.g. 1 to 5 years). The current authorizing legislation for this Regional Center aspect of the program is set to expire or “sunset” September 30, 2016.

Before the Regional Center pilot program expired last year in September, a bi-partisan effort in both houses of Congress worked with industry leaders to propose legislation with a broad consensus of stakeholders that would have addressed a full range of issues concerning the EB-5 program. But at the proverbial 11th hour, Congress dropped the comprehensive reform and decided to renew the existing law (without change) for 12 months (expiring September 30, 2016).

Now that the sunset date is approaching again, many stakeholders in the EB-5 process are working with Congress for a better and longer-lasting resolution of the EB-5 issues.

none of the experts we talk to believe that the EB-5 program will be allowed to lapse

Some of the proposals to revise EB-5

Although a review of last year’s drafts of legislation may be helpful in understanding the “big picture issues,” the political environment is different this year, particularly with election-year dynamics. It is too early to predict what approaches and proposals will succeed, but there is almost universal belief that a workable resolution will be achieved for all legitimate stakeholders. Some of the major proposals are listed below.

JMBM’s EB-5 Financing team follows these developments closely, and you should talk with us to get the latest update.

  • How long should the re-authorization last? After almost 25 years, hasn’t the Pilot Program shown results justifying making it permanent or doing away with it? Why is it permitted to become a political football every year or two? Why does it need to come up for renewal?
  • What is the required investment for an EB-5 visa applicant? Currently the minimum investment is $500,000, and more than 90% of all EB-5 visa immigrants have qualified for this amount. Only 10% have used the $1 million investment level. Should one or both investment levels be raised (e.g. to $800,000 and $1.2 million)? Should there just be one level of investment? Should the difference between the lowest and highest investment requirements be reduced?
  • What does it take to qualify for the lowest investment requirement? Currently, only projects in Targeted Employment Areas or “TEAs” (rural locations or areas with high unemployment equal to 150% or more of national unemployment levels) qualify for the lower investment of $500,000. Should rural areas be more strictly defined? Should national standards be imposed to replace the current state-by-state approach to TEA designation based on unemployment? What should those standards be?
  • How do you calculate job creation? To obtain an EB-5 visa, each investor must invest the required minimum and that investment must create at least 10 new permanent jobs. Certainly it is easy to calculate the number of direct employees — those with W-2s, but what else counts? Construction jobs? Indirect and induced jobs (not direct or W-2 employees but workers servicing the project such as an outside laundry service for a hotel, the window washers for the building, the workers in the restaurants and retailers who reside in the project). Currently, indirect and induced jobs can be included in the job count when calculated by one of the four established USCIS-approved formulas – should this approach be changed? Should the job count requirement be changed?
  • How many visas should the program permit and how do you count them? Is the current 10,000 EB-5 visas per year the right amount or should it be increased? Should any of those visas be set aside or earmarked for certain projects such as projects in rural areas of public infrastructure? Should the permitted number of visas (10,000 or whatever it may be changed to) count only the EB-5 investors, or should it include the investor’s spouse and minor children? Should unused EB-5 visa allocations accumulate from year to year or be spread amongst all employment based immigration programs?
  • Should something be done about the “aging out” problem? Is it appropriate to exclude minor children from the benefits of EB-5 when they exceed the age of minority because of long delays — up to several years — by the U.S. immigration service in processing the visas?
  • Should Regional Centers be charged an annual fee? Should there be an annual fee for a Regional Center to retain its designation? Should that be $25,000, $50,000 or some other number? Do we want to discourage inactive RCs and those who just “bought a charter” for speculation with no intention to use it for the intended purpose? What should these fees, if any, pay for?
  • Should there be more Federal oversight? Proposals in this area have included greater reporting, oversight and involvement by a host of federal government agencies such as the SEC, FBI, NSA, and Homeland Security. Such proposals also generally include civil and criminal penalties for noncompliance. Nobody in the EB-5 industry favors fraud or terrorism, but is there really enough of a problem to warrant this attention? Aren’t current laws adequate? Could this be over-regulation?

These 8 broad areas of inquiry about the EB-5 program are worth discussing and, in fact, have been discussed at length for some time. (See our December 8, 2015 blog for changes that almost went into effect in 2016.)

Time to evaluate the right EB-5 strategy for you?

We have a lot of practical experience in helping our developer clients raise EB-5 funding. If you would like some help to evaluate whether EB-5 could work for you, or what strategy is best for you, then give us a call. There is no cost for an initial discussion.

Jim Butler, +1-310-201-3526 or jbutler@jmbm.com

David Sudeck, +1-310-201-3518 or dsudeck@jmbm.com

 

Other articles on EB-5 Financing

To access our rich library of articles on EB-5 financing, go to www.HotelLawyer.com, scroll down the right-hand side under LEARN MORE ABOUT and click on “EB-5 Financing.” For your convenience, here are a few popular EB-5 articles that may be of interest:

EB-5 funding for new development: JMBM has closed more than $1.5 billion of EB-5 financing.

EB-5 extended without change: President Donald Trump signs bill

What’s happening with EB-5 financing for new development projects? Is it still available?

JMBM’s “preferred” EB-5 construction financing program for top developers and projects.

FAQs about EB-5 project financing for new hotel development

Hotel development & EB-5 financing: Why you don’t want to form your own regional center

Financing hotel development today: The 5 questions every hotel developer is asking about EB-5 financing

Picture of Jim Butler
This is Jim Butler, author of
www.HotelLawBlog.com and hotel lawyer. We represent hotel owners, developers and investors. We have helped our clients find business and legal solutions for more than $71 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 3,800 hotels. As of January 31, 2017, we have closed more than $1.5 billion of EB-5 financing for our clients’ projects, and sourced most of that. I invite you to contact me to explore how our experience and resources might help you accomplish your goals. 310.201-3526 or jbutler@jmbm.com
Published on:

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Patrick Hogan, CEO of CMB Regional Centers, speaks with David Sudeck, senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® at JMBM’s 2016 Meet the Money® – the national hotel finance and investment conference. They discuss the evolution of the EB-5 Immigrant Investment Visa Program, indirect jobs, completion guarantees, and taking care of the investor.

A transcript follows the video. See other videos in this series on the Jeffer Mangels YouTube channel.

David Sudeck: Hi, I’m David Sudeck, I’m here at the 26th annual Meet the Money® Conference with Pat Hogan, CEO of CMB Regional Centers. Welcome Pat. And thanks again for participating this year. You were on stage earlier on the CEO panel and you did a fantastic job.

Patrick Hogan: Well thank you, I’m pretty excited to be here. It’s an interesting group of people.

David Sudeck: EB-5 is hot right now. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the roots of CMB, how things have changed from the 1990s to today, and what you see as your current platform.

Patrick Hogan: We started in 1994, before regional centers were ever involved.

The EB-5 program is actually a permanent program. Most people don’t know that because everybody does business with the regional center. But I started in 1997, getting my first regional center, and we actually got an approval in the year 2000. But as you know, fraud crept into that particular program and I just couldn’t take it anymore. It wasn’t really a business at that point in time. So I just said, “Okay, I quit, and until Congress can put some reforms through, I don’t want to do it anymore.”

David Sudeck: So you were pushing for regulation?

Patrick Hogan: Yes, even back then. So, fast forward to today – and we’ve been rocked with all kinds of scandals and things like that within EB-5 – which you would expect. Because if you go back to 2007 there were eleven regional centers, and maybe five of us doing something. And then to go to today where you have 800 regional centers – there’s bound to be some individuals that don’t have a clue.

David Sudeck: Do you have any sense as to how many of those 800 actually do business of any kind? CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

17 July 2016

New York EB-5 Investment Immigration Convention

More than 700 people are gathering the next two days in New York City for one of the largest EB-5 financing conferences in the country. We are proud to be a platinum sponsor of this program, and I am looking forward to my panel on how to finance hotel construction and development with EB-5.

Hosted by EB-5 Investors Magazine, this event will be held July 17-18, 2016 at the Sheraton Hotel in Times Square. The first day is comprised of three tracks of workshops and Monday is a full day of panels on EB-5 topics of current interest.

Dr. Arthur B. Laffer of Laffer Associates, and Mr. Charles Qi of the Beijing Entry and Exit Immigration Service Association will deliver keynote speeches, and attendees will benefit from timely legislative analysis on the EB-5 Regional Center Program extension. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

08 February 2016

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Hotel Lawyer in Los Angeles at the latest EB-5 Summit

If you have been thinking about tapping into EB-5 financing for your development project, this is the time to make your decision and act quickly. If you need background on what the EB-5 program is about, how it has gone mainstream with institutional investors for several years, and is now providing a steady stream of reliable capital, please see the articles referenced at the bottom.

We think that JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® EB-5 financing team has a pretty good perspective on the opportunity, the risks, and how to get clean execution. We have closed more than $1.5 billion of EB-5 financing and sourced more than half of that for our clients.

If you have missed our reporting of key events affecting the availability of EB-5 financing here, you need to know that the EB-5 program was extended for another year through September 30, 2016 without any changes. But just as the maximum number of visas has been reached in each of the past two years, the experts expect that we will “cap out” at the maximum 10,000 visas even earlier in 2016 – possibly as early as May or June.

And the “reformers” are still out there, with proposals to revise the EB-5 program the next time it comes up for renewal. So this is a great time to move into action while EB-5 financing continues to be accessible for top developers with great projects and a strong track record.

We are confident that most people who delay will wish they had started earlier and gotten in on this great source of relatively inexpensive financing early in the game. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

18 December 2015

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Hotel lawyer with great news for developers: the EB-5 immigrant visa financing program has been renewed — approved by Congress and signed by the President. It is being continued without change through September 30, 2016.

JMBM’s team has closed more than $1.5 billion of EB-5 financing and sourced more than half of that for our clients

A funny thing happened on the way to the 2016 Federal budget approval last week. One of the “riders” to the omnibus appropriations bill was the EB-5 legislation sponsored by Senators Leahy and Grassley. For months preceding the scheduled Congressional action, many stakeholders in the EB-5 industry spent untold hours in negotiating complex provisions to deal with certain concerns regarding the program. These negotiations resulted in multiple drafts of the proposed legislation being exchanged between Congressional staff and industry leaders, with the “final” draft receiving the unanimous approval of the trade organization for regional centers, the Invest in the USA or IIUSA. It was a good compromise on many knotty issues.

Then at the proverbial 11th hour . . . on Wednesday, December 16, the elaborate “final” compromise proposal was jettisoned in favor of a simple extension of the expiration date for the Regional Center program to September 30, 2016, without any other changes to the program.

The EB-5 regional center program is extended without any other changes.

Yes. That is right. After all the discussions and proposals, THE ONLY CHANGE IN THE LAW IS AN EXTENSION OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE FOR THE PROGRAM THROUGH NEXT YEAR.

Now, as the program has been renewed without a single change, lenders and foreign investors are now rushing to fill the pipeline again. And it is much more desirable to be at the front of the line, rather than at the back of the line.

Nothing was done about any other issues, including the following: CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

08 December 2015

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Editor’s note: The EB-5 program has been renewed! The article below describes the changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program that were ALMOST enacted in December 2015. At the eleventh hour, Congress completely shelved all the proposals discussed below, and instead decided to continue the program, without any change, through September 15, 2016. 

Hotel Lawyer preview of the new EB-5 financing rules.

Although minor tweaks and adjustments continue to be made to legislation in the final hours before Congress votes, it looks like we have a pretty good idea of what the new rules will be for EB-5 financing. Top takeaways for developers are:

  • The EB-5 regional center program will be extended for 5 years
  • Developers will be able to raise 60% more EB-5 capital on the same number of jobs
  • Minimum investment will be raised to $800,000 (not expected to deter investors)
  • TEAs will be forced into a “modified California model” of not more than 12 contiguous tracts
  • NOW is a good time to get started on EB-5 financing before the New Year rush
  • There will be much greater scrutiny and compliance required of those in the capital raising process, and there may be a trickle-down effect on developers (unless they want to form and use their own regional center)

Read on for more details. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

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02 October 2015

We are pleased that the Continuing Resolution passed by Congress yesterday includes a temporary extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Program. This extension allows the program to continue generating foreign direct investment and creating U.S. jobs through December 11, 2015.

In addition to extending the current program to December 11, this will also provide additional time for Congress to consider a long-term reauthorization bill that would include reform measures to strengthen federal oversight and the integrity of the program. Members of Congress from both parties and both the House and Senate are negotiating in good faith.

This week, two Senate bills were introduced that propose revisions to the EB-5 program.

Last week, our team closed $350 million in EB-5 financing for our developer clients. We have closed more than $1.5 billion of EB-5 financing and sourced more than half of that for our clients and believe the EB-5 program will continue to be an important source of funding for qualified projects.

We will continue to report on EB-5 developments as they unfold. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

21 September 2015

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The Global Hospitality Group® is best known for its expertise in connection with hotels and resorts. We also have an active restaurant practice, and like a hotel, a restaurant is an operating business integrally intertwined with special purpose real estate. We frequently advise restaurant owners and operators on labor and employment, ADA, management, and finance and licensing issues, and we have a particular expertise relating to celebrity chef deals.

Senior Global Hospitality Group® member David Sudeck recently participated in a roundtable discussion about the food and beverage industry in Los Angeles, published in the Los Angeles Business Journal. The following discussion about licensing issues, EB-5 and crowdfunding investment in restaurant projects, gift card and loyalty programs and tax planning strategies is based on the roundtable and includes some clarifications and updates.

 

The Food & Beverage Industry in Los Angeles: A Roundtable Discussion
Supplement to the Los Angeles Business Journal

The food and beverage industry is unique in many ways. And here in Los Angeles, where we have some of the best dining and food-for-purchase options in the nation, there may be an even more finely tuned set of rules for success. Stir in an unpredictable economy and you’ve got a sector of Southern California business that continues to evolve faster than most. To make some sense of this exciting and unpredictable realm, the Los Angeles Business Journal turned to some of the leading experts in the region – from the financial, legal and business perspectives – to get their diverse insights and assessments regarding the current state of the industry that Angelenos most certainly couldn’t live without!

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

09 September 2015

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Editor’s note: The EB-5 program has been renewed! Congress completely shelved all the proposals discussed below, and instead decided to continue the program, without any change, through September 15, 2016. 

For the current status of the EB-5 financing program, see “EB-5 Immigrant Visa program extension signed into law — without any changes. EB-5 financing continues for new development projects.

EB-5 is at a critical renewal point

The next 3 weeks are going to be crucial for the EB-5 industry as the current legislation sunsets on September 30, 2015. While the consensus is that this important program will be renewed, and perhaps made permanent, there are lots of currents circulating about possible changes in the program.

We want to share with you some keen insights we recently received.

EB-5 update and insights from an industry insider

Below is the full text of a letter recently sent to industry colleagues by Pat Hogan, President, CMB. Pat is one of the leading proponents of EB-5, and is also a founder and board member of the IIUSA (Invest In the USA) which is the national industry trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center Program.

Greetings,

I wanted to share my thoughts with you after having recently visited no less than 60 Congressional and Senatorial offices within the last 40 days. I also just attended the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) EB-5 Investors Summit this past weekend in Las Vegas.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

28 January 2015

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This article was first published by EB5Investors.com on January 28, 2015.

 

Polis Bill Reform EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

With the regional center program set to expire in September 2015, the EB-5 industry has been given new life in the form of the American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2015. The Act was introduced today by Congressmen Jared Polis (CO-02) and Mark Amodei (NV-02), and is a follow-up to last year’s bill of the same name. The bill would make the regional center program permanent and allow for continued job creation and a more reliable stream of foreign capital.

“Our nation has always been at its strongest when we attracted the best and brightest minds to help build and invest in our economy,” said Rep. Polis. “The EB-5 visa program is an important tool that brings innovation and investment to the United States, and this bipartisan bill will improve and make permanent the program so that foreign investment and talent will continue to flow into our businesses, and strengthen our economy.”

“This bi-partisan, pro-investment, pro-growth and pro-jobs bill is one piece of the legislative solution to reform legal immigration,” said Rep. Amodei. “As stated in Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 of the Constitution, ‘The Congress shall have power to… establish a uniform rule of naturalization.’ That is a responsibility we owe the country to take seriously.”

The legislation makes several much-needed improvements, most notably making the regional center program permanent. It also creates new designations for Targeted Employment Areas, and leaves those designations up to the state’s discretion. CONTINUE READING →