People seeking U.S. citizenship are financing Bay Area real estate projects using an obscure federal immigration program that grants green cards in exchange for capital investment. San Jose-based Barry Swenson Builder broke ground May 15 on an $80 million two-hotel complex east of the Mineta San Jose International Airport for which 40 percent of the cost is to come from equity raised from foreign investors.
Following State Department’s recent announcement that they are on track to issue a record number of EB-5 visas this year, the EB-5 program has been getting quite a bit of press.
EB-5, or Immigrant Investor Program as it’s officially known, was created by Congress in 1990 “to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors,” according to the program’s official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Foreign citizens are investing in a visa program that allows them to gain permanent residence by investing $500,000 in a U.S. project that creates at least 10 jobs. Judith and Rene Dekker work on their dairy farm in Ubly, Mich. Originally from the Netherlands, the family moved to Michigan in 2000.
D.C. officials once borrowed freely to help finance development projects like the International Spy Museum, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Gallery Place.Those days are gone, stifled by a self-imposed cap on borrowing that has left a slew of projects in need of financing.