The City of Miami is pushing for job creation and economic development through the establishment of an EB-5 immigrant investor regional center. The EB-5 program, initially created in 1990 by Congress, allows for foreign investors to invest and subsequently obtain an EB-5 visa. The visa grants 2 year resident status to qualifying investors and their families upon investment of 1 million dollars ($500,000 in a “Targeted Employment Area” – high unemployment or rural area), and creation of 10 full time jobs excluding the investor family.
In 1993, a pilot program was created that allowed for regional centers to be established and serve as third party managers thus taking on the responsibility of creating the requisite jobs. The program was scheduled to end on September 30, 2012, however Congress reauthorized the program for an additional three year period. To date there are 218 regional centers throughout the country with 20 in the State of Florida. For a center to be approved it needs to show that it would have a strong economic impact. A detailed business plan with defined project techniques would need to be submitted and if approved, the city may be subject to audits to ensure compliance with the program.
Although the program was not utilized as much as initially anticipated, in recent years the number of applicants and centers has risen. This increase in applications is primarily due to a number of changes in the application process as well as the time frame involved in processing the application and changes to the staff processing the application. In fact, just recently, the Miami Herald reported that a developer is planning to convert the former Miami National Bank building, a historic 1925 building in downtown Miami, into a boutique hotel, and is seeking investors interested in taking advantage of the EB-5 program.
According to the company’s website, eb5hotel.com, the hotel which is being marketed as The Langford, meets all the necessary requirements for job creation and economic impact required by the program. Furthermore, they have identified the hotel as being in a targeted employment area therefore only $500,000 in investment is needed. The hotel will have 130 rooms, 2 luxury suites, a special events area, restaurant and a rooftop bar. The operator is Coral Gables based operator, Trust Hospitality, and the developer is Stambul, a Venezuelan development company.
Given Miami’s geographic location, the program can assist in continuing to attract foreigners to invest not only in real estate condos for personal use but in business ventures as well.