中国EB-5投资是把双刃剑! | 美媒报道

中国投资者占据了85%以上的EB-5签证,也正因为此,EB-5签证类别在今年的5月1日起,对中国投资者开始了排期。今天来看一份美国媒体的报道,EB-5排期事宜,给美国开发商和中国投资者造成的困惑,由业内朋友义务翻译,特此感谢。

eb5移民

EB-5的需求

中国对EB-5的需求如何让令市场减速

当中国人对美国房地产投资表现出兴趣时,这其实是一把双刃剑。

好消息是,中国富人急于抓住这个只要投资100万美金到美国企业就可以买到绿卡甚至公民的机会。去年,全球一万张EB-5投资移民签证中,超过85%的投资者来自中国,远远高于其他任何国家。

从技术上讲,为了公平起见,这项计划要求每个国家通过此渠道获得绿卡的人数不超过这个类别可分配绿卡的7%,但是除中国外,没有任何一个国家接近这个比率。

有益于中国经济的增长以及加拿大投资移民的关门,中国申请人在2014年瓜分了每年1万张美国投资移民签证中的8,300多张,与10年前中国申请人仅占总申请人数的13%相比,现如今中国申请数是呈指数增长。

这些投资,将为一些大型房地产项目的融资,比如位于迈阿密市区总投资为4.3亿美金的Skyrise塔项目,其将会有2.7亿美金的外国资本投入。

但问题在于:不断涌入的申请已经阻塞了系统,加上审批时间的延迟,使得房地产商和其他美国商业企业迟迟未能获得通过EB-5融资的数十亿美金,因为这些申请人还都在等待审批。

“排期的影响之一是中国投资人可能希望延迟注资进项目的时间”,纽约Akerman公司企业实践部门的合伙人Rogelio "Roy" Carrsaquillo说道。

EB-5签证计划,可以追溯到1995年,但是直到2008年美国因为经济危机导致传统贷款收紧,才使得EB-5变成一个主流的夹层贷款融资来源。EB-5计划,允许外国贷款人(投资者)投资50万到100万美金(TEA地区与非TEA地区区别)到美国的商业企业中创造或者保留至少10个2年的全职就业。相对应的,这些投资人可以获得美国的永久居留权。

在美国国内贷款市场紧缩的情况下,EB-5计划给房地产项目带来新的希望。EB-5一共为美国南部融资了65亿美金,从2005年到2013年为美国创造了13万1千多个就业。

不过对于South Florida的开发商来说,虽然日渐依赖这种外国资金作为主要融资来源的方式,但是移民的排期可能会导致建筑工期的延迟,影响项目融资架构,因为,为了不影响项目的进展,开发商要找到一个补充的融资方案,譬如从传统贷款人处获得过桥贷款,以此来平衡移民进展缓慢对项目造成的影响。

申请人递交I-526申请是EB-5计划的第一步。截止2014年6月,将近1万零400个申请处于待审核状态,鉴于大多数申请人都会为自己的配偶和子女同时申请签证,所以实际需要的签证数量远高于这个数值。

“现在整个的问题并不是签证已经用完,目前还有很多签证,只有中国投资人面临排期的问题,”Akerman公司在迈阿密办公室的律师Scott Berttridge说到,“其他国家的投资者可以继续提交申请,不会有任何的问题。”

在距离今年财年结束还有几个月的5月份,美国政府宣布因为中国投资者所获签证已经到达上限,中国投资人签证将进入排期以便其他国家的投资人可以正常获得签证。

EB-5签证对中国申请人的正式排期是两年的时间,从2013年5月1日开始,优先日期在此截止日期之前的投资人将不受影响,今年可以继续他们的签证进程。在此日期之后的申请将可以在下一财年开始的10月1日得以重启,不过申请人还是要根据签证发放的情况进行排队。

潜在的替代方案

对于一些开发商来说,中国资金已经是他们的第二选择,riverapoint开发集团的CEO Rodrigo Azpurua就是其中之一。

Azpurua在2010年依靠中国投资者融资到了在Miramar和Doral的2个写字楼项目一半的资金。但是由于南美和欧洲对美国投资兴趣的激增,使他从中国之外为他的3个南佛罗里达州项目募集了6千5百万美金的资金,而最初的募集目标只是1千5百万美金到2千5百万美金之间。

不考虑投资者的国籍,EB-5真的是一个相对便宜的融资渠道,一般的银行贷款以及私募基本都会要求至少10%的年回报,而EB-5资金的利息只是这些的三分之一不到,一般是1%-3%。

对于开发商来说这是一个很划算的事情,这也说明大多数申请者觉得可以获得绿卡就是他们投资的公平回报。

大多数的中国富人申请移民的主要动力,是为了子女今后可以在美国知名高校接受教育,鉴于此他们已经找到一种策略来对付签证的排期。

“大多数申请者直接让他们的子女作为主申请人,”Azpurua 说。“以前他们会等到孩子19岁,但是他们现在在孩子17岁时就会让他们做主申请人。”

对于开发商来说,他们可以继续通过EB-5来融资,但是他们要把目标放在那些愿意耐心等待排期,且不会被相似投资移民项目(比如澳洲投资移民)吸引的投资者。

“你一定认为排期会产生影响,但是我的理解是,现在排期还没有成为中国市场的主要影响因素,”Arnstein & Lehr的合伙人Ronald Fieldstone说到。“中国市场还是很有生机的。我想现在大家的心理主要还是观望为主。”

今年5月,当Fieldstone来中国的时候,他发现投资者对于一条可以让投资者跳过临时绿卡直接获得永久绿卡的提案十分兴奋。

在现有的EB-5方案下,申请人将先获得一张有效期为2年的绿卡以便他们可以尽快移民美国。如果2年之后他们的项目可以创造出足够的就业以及满足其他的一些必要条件,他们就可以申请调整身份变为永久居民。但是新的提案可能会允许投资者在满足条件的情况下直接变为永久居民,如果是这样,即便现在有排期,投资者也会在和原方案差不多的时间变为永久居民。

这项由Patrick Leahy和Charles Grassley,两党参议员共同提出的提案表示允许那些已经通过I-526的申请人,在满足成为永久居民的条件后可以跳过临时居留的部分直接申请成为永久居民,就算因为排期使得投资人前两年不能申请临时居留也不会影响他获得永久居留的时间。

“这是一个明显针对排期而提出的一个很意思的妥协,“Fieldstone说到。“但是对于投资者来说,尽早投资、尽快排队,才是最重要的。

原文来源:dailybusinessreview.com。

How Chinese Demand for EB-5 Visas Has Slowed Things Down
Samantha Joseph, Daily Business Review

There's good news and bad when it comes to Chinese interest in U.S. real estate investing.

The good news is that wealthy Chinese have jumped at the chance to pump up to $1 million into U.S. businesses if it'll buy them a visa and a chance at U.S. citizenship. They've far outpaced every other nationality, snagging nearly 85 percent of the 10,000 entrepreneurship visas available last year through the EB-5 program that grants green cards to investors.

Technically, program rules designed to maintain a fair distribution limit a country's allotment to 7 percent of available green cards, but no other country came close to that threshold.

Fueled by Chinese economic growth and the end of a similar investment path in Canada, Chinese applicants scooped up more than 8,300 U.S. visas in 2014, up exponentially from a decade earlier when they accounted for about 13 percent of the allotment.

The money will help finance major real estate projects such as downtown Miami's proposed $430 million Skyrise tower, earmarked for $270 million in foreign capital.

But here's the rub: The steady influx has clogged the system, delaying processing and putting in limbo billions of dollars earmarked for real estate and other U.S. ventures as immigrant financiers await answers on pending applications.

"One of the effects of retrogression is that Chinese investors might want later release of their money," said Rogelio "Roy" Carrasquillo, a partner in Akerman's corporate practice group in New York.

The EB-5 visa program dates back to 1995 but didn't become a mainstream source of mezzanine financing until the 2008 recession, when traditional lenders tightened their purse strings. It allows foreign lenders to invest $500,000 to $1 million in U.S. businesses that create or save at least 10 full-time jobs over a two-year period. In exchange, investors get a path to permanent U.S. residency.

The program gave new hope to real estate and other sectors constrained by a tight domestic lending market. It raised north of $6.5 billion nationwide and supported more than 131,000 U.S. jobs from 2005 to 2013.

But for South Florida developers increasingly dependent on foreign capital as an important source of financing, the backlog could slow construction deadlines, impact deal structures and create a need for supplemental financing—like bridge loans from traditional lenders—to float projects as immigration processing hobbles along.

Applicants file I-526 entrepreneur petitions as the first step in the EB-5 visa program. By June 2014, nearly 10,400 petitions were pending—thousands more than the number of visas available for entrepreneurs since investors typically also file for spouses and children.

"The whole issue right now is not that there has been any cap that has been reached. There are plenty of visas, but the slowdown is with Chinese investors," said Scott Bettridge, a labor and employment attorney in Akerman's Miami office. "Other nationalities may continue to process without any issues."

In May, months before the end of the fiscal year, the U.S. State Department announced it had reached the maximum number of approvals and would slow China's dominance of the visa program to allow other nationalities to make a stronger showing.

Officials retrogressed the EB-5 China immigrant visa category for two years, setting May 1, 2013, as the cutoff date for applications set to be processed this year. They'll likely start reviewing applications received after that date in the next fiscal year starting Oct. 1 and continue on a rolling schedule depending on visa availability.

Potential Back door

For some developers, like Riviera Point Development Group CEO Rodrigo Azpurua, Chinese capital is already a secondary choice.

Azpurua relied on Chinese investors in 2010 to fund half of two office projects in Miramar and Doral. But after a surge in interest from South America and Europe, he looked outside China for more than $65 million to finance three South Florida projects with offerings ranging from $15 million to $25 million.

Regardless of the source's nationality, capital raised through EB-5 is relatively cheap, offered at nominal interest rates of 1 percent to 3 percent—about one third of the rates offered by conventional lenders and private equity partners who generally require a 10 percent annual return.

It's a bargain for developers and a sign that most visa applicants see a green card as a fair return on their investment.

Most of the wealthy Chinese investors, motivated by a desire to educate their children at top U.S. universities, have already found a strategy to beat the visa processing delay.

"The majority are applying for the second generation," Azpurua said. "Instead of waiting to apply when the kid is 19 years old, they're applying when he's 17."

As for developers, they could continue to raise EB-5 capital, but they'll need to target potential investors willing to wait out the delay instead of investing in other countries, like Australia, with similar programs.

"You have to believe it's going to have some effect, but I understand today the retrogression hasn't had a significant effect in China," said Ronald Fieldstone, a partner at Arnstein & Lehr. "The Chinese market is still very vibrant. I think the philosophy right now is wait and see."

When Fieldstone visited China in May, he found investors excited about a proposed U.S. law that would create a back door to citizenship by allowing entrepreneurs to skip the temporary green card and apply directly for permanence residency.

Under the EB-5 program, applicants typically get a temporary green card valid for two years that allows them to migrate to the U.S. They can then apply to adjust their status to permanent residency two years later if they fulfill the job creation and other criteria set out in the program. But proposed legislation might allow investors to become permanent residents on the same timetable even with the backlog.

The bipartisan bill by U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, would allow applicants with approved I-526 petitions to skip temporary residency status and go straight for permanent residency once they qualify, even if retrogression prevented them for continuing the application during the first two years of investment.

"It's an interesting compromise to the obvious issues with retrogression," Fieldstone said. "There's an advantage to investing early and getting their name in the queue."

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