The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services issued three years of EB-5 visa data this week, confirming what was already known to many in the industry: big city regional centers servicing developer clients dominate the field for investors looking to immigrate to the U.S.USIF has done two of the three money-raises for Atlantic Yards (Atlantic Yards II, $249 million; Atlantic Yards III, $100 million), as well as the one for Nassau Coliseum.
Between 2014 and 2017, USCIS approved more than 26,000 petitions for visas nationwide and rejected 3,313, its data show. The overwhelming majority of regional centers saw 100 or fewer petitions processed during the period. EB-5 visa issuance is currently capped at 10,000 new investor visas annually.
The US Immigration Fund (USIF), a Florida-based EB-5 regional center company with branches in New York City and New Jersey, accounted for more than 3,100 approved petitions, or 17 percent of all approved EB-5 visas in this period, the data show. In New York, developers like Forest City Ratner, HFZ Capital Group, the Durst Organization, Steve Witkoff and Michael Shvo tapped USIF to bring in funds for major projects, many of them luxury condos. And in New Jersey, the firm’s regional center is raising funds for two Kushner Companies residential projects, Trump Bay Street and One Journal Square. The latter project recently came under fire for making reference to Jared Kushner’s connections to the President Trump in a presentation to potential Chinese EB-5 investors.
The second biggest was the Related Companies. Other large developers with large numbers are Silverstein Properties’ Gotham Regional Center Extell Development’s New York center.
Unmentioned: they typically stretch the intent of the law by having government agencies sign off on gerrymandered Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) to create distended zones of high-unemployment, thus qualifying for a minimum $500,000 investment, rather than the supposed $1 million requirement (which almost no EB-5 investor pays).
Or that USIF's Nick Mastroianni has essentially admitted his projects don't need the money, which completely undermines the job-creation rationale of EB-5.