Monday, November 5, 2007

Got $500,000? The U.S. Awaits

by Miriam Jordan from The Wall Street Journal

An obscure immigration program is pumping millions of dollars from foreign investors into dilapidated inner cities and employment-starved rural areas across the U.S. These investors aren't focused on financial returns, however: They're in it to get green cards. In recent years, a growing list of enterprises -- in agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, education and transportation -- have benefited from a little-known federal program known as EB-5, or the immigrant-investor visa. It offers a tantalizing trade-off for foreigners who want to establish residency in the U.S.: For a $500,000 investment in a distressed area, a foreigner and his immediate family become eligible for conditional green cards ... The US program lately has become popular among investors from South Korea, China, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia desperate to bypass the uncertainty and years-long wait to gain residency through traditional means ... Around the U.S., 17 regional centers under the EB-5 program have attracted about $500 million in foreign funds. Projects include dairy farms in Iowa, nut farms in California, schools and health-care facilities in Alabama, ethanol plants in Texas, and a film and TV production studio in Pennsylvania.

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