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The EB-5 Visa Program: Raising Capital for Florida’s Commercial Real Estate Market

Amy BalesThe Immigrant Investor Program also known as the EB-5 visa is a federal program which allows foreign nationals to secure a permanent U.S. residency in exchange for investing in job creating ventures, including commercial real estate development.The EB-5 visa was created by Congress in 1990 in an effort to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. The minimum qualifying investment is $1 million unless the investment is in a rural area or area of high unemployment in which case the minimum investment is $500,000. The capital investment must create or retain at least 10 jobs and the money is held in an escrow account until the government approves the application. The program has grown in popularity in recent years, and is being utilized by foreign nationals to invest in both commercial and residential properties throughout the nation, especially Florida. Florida cities occupy the top 5 of the ten most popular cities in which foreign investors are buying, thus many developers in Florida are looking to the EB-5 program for capital for non-traditional financing for their projects.

The attorneys at Bales & Bales, P.A. have extensive experience in successfully representing numerous foreign national investors, Florida developers and investment firms in EB-5 structured transactions for the purpose of acquiring commercial real estate in Florida. Investments in new commercial enterprises are made through capital structures such as partnerships, sole proprietorships, joint ventures, business trusts, holding companies, and other public or privately held companies. Developers in Florida are increasingly using this program to secure financing for real estate projects such as mixed use buildings, shopping centers, office buildings and hotels. One of the most advantageous features for developers is that the capital raised pursuant to the EB-5 program is not encumbered by the traditional underwriting guidelines utilized by traditional lending institutions. Properly utilized the program can provide a win-win situation for all involved.