A large investment firm is hoping to resurrect the struggling downtown business district of Allentown, Pennsylvania by investing several hundred thousand dollars into the city, including publicly subsidized office space, retail shops and luxury apartments. All within close proximity to PPL Center, the city’s signature arena, this new project has created new jobs for residents of Allentown. It is also helping wealthy families from other countries become permanent U.S. residents.
City Center Investment Corp., the firm responsible for the city’s revitalization, has taken advantage of a unique program administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that helps secure green cards for foreign investors and their families in exchange for investing in development projects that will create jobs. According to City Center CEO, J. B. Reilly, without these foreign investors, they would not have access into Five City Center or several other projects.
Five City Center is a $225,000,000 complex that will be located on the block that is bordered by Hamilton, Walnut, Seventh and Eighth streets. It will house offices, apartments, a parking complex and a terraced public park. Reilly stated that the $20,000,000 in capital enables them to invest in this project on a level they would not have been able to otherwise. City Center’s five-year, $20 million loan is personally guaranteed by Reilly and his partner Joe Topper. Financially, it is backed by equity in the Renaissance Hotel and Three City Center.
Immigration Investor Program
Supporters for the Immigration Investor Program, known as EB-5, praise the program for encouraging foreign investors to invest in projects rather than seeking government subsidies. According to Reilly, one visa issued results in 10 permanent jobs, which justifies the intent of the program.
In order to participate in the program, a foreign investor must give a minimum of $500,000 towards a project that will create or preserve ten U.S. jobs. In exchange, the foreign investor can obtain green cards for themselves and their family. If the development succeeds, they will be given permanent resident status. For many foreign investors, one of the main incentives of the EB-5 investor visa program is for families who have small children interested in attending U.S. schools and universities.
To initiate the process, an investor must apply to Citizenship and Immigration, with the help of a sponsor company, for approval of their investment. Once approved, a visa interview is conducted. If accepted, they are allowed to enter the U.S. with a temporary green card. After two years, the investor must file a second report providing detailed information about the investment, including statistical proof of new jobs created. If the project was successful, and created the required number of jobs, their residence is made permanent and they may then apply for citizenship.
From the developer’s perspective, the program is attractive due to the low borrowing costs and largely uninvolved investors. The loans have low interest rates because the priority is achieving citizenship rather than the financial benefit of a higher interest rate.
The EB-5 program will expire in December, 2015 unless efforts to extend it are successful.
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The immigration process can be complicated under the best of circumstances. If you have questions or concerns about your immigration status, including family visas, business visas or employment/work visas, contact the Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin. We are experienced in all aspects of immigration law and will provide you with the knowledgeable legal counsel you deserve. Our offices are located in Philadelphia where we serve clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. For a confidential consultation, call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online.