CNN:中国富人买美国绿卡恐更难 | 热点解读

EB-5一直会有些或大或小的热文,今天又来了传出来一篇刷屏的文章,源自10月11日的CNN Monday的文章,题为:It may get harder for rich Chinese to buy green cards的文章,然后经过侨报网翻译转载后(EB-5政策调整 中国富人获美国绿卡恐更难),昨天开始传上国内的大小媒体。有朋友说来辟下谣吧,找了CNN原文和侨报的翻译报道,认真读了下,倒还真没啥大的问题。当然,媒体的特性还是,多少会有些耸人听闻,与事实理解起来有些偏差。

美国绿卡

今天,EB5Sir就依据侨报的翻译,略作调整,原文奉上CNN的报道,再做解释。

中国富人买美国绿卡恐更难,买绿卡将变得更加困难

对于在美国的外国人来说,至少投资50万美元用于创业才能拿到永居权,这项备受争议的移民政策就是在中国富人圈中很受欢迎的EB-5移民签证。然而美国会议员正在考虑对该政策进行调整,想要拿到绿卡将变得更加困难。

现行政策的支持者表示, 外国投资者提供了一个重要的替代性资金来源,使大型房地产投资从中受益,比如布鲁克林的大西洋广场,和一些小的项目,诸如生产食品可降解容器的北达科他州的工厂。

然而批评家指出,这成为了全球精英阶层购买美国公民身份的一种方式。其不仅是一项繁文缛节的政策,同时在欺诈问题上也疏于管理。

目前,国会已提出一系列改革建议,其中包括最新发布的一项临时应急措施,将保证该政策运行至12月初。

EB5Sir注:这里指,我们说的EB-5区域中心计划,随着9月30日临时决议案的通过,而被临时延期到了12月11日。

该政策可能在以下四方面发生变化:

1. 购买绿卡将变得更为昂贵

EB-5计划,当前要求外国投资者依据投资项目,投入50至100万美元的资金,并保证该项目将为美国提供就业岗位。而一项改革建议,则将投资金额提高至80至120万美元,同时保证原有的就业要求。该政策自1990年颁布以来,对于投资金额的调整已经延迟了很久,尽管更高的资金要求不太可能“减少投资移民的人数”,麦楷博平会计师事务所办理EB-5业务的David Appel表示。

然而,这的确意味着对于中国富人来说,想要拿到美国绿卡变得更加严格了。中国实行十分严格的资本管理制度,其限制个人出境所携带的资金数额。更高的资金标准意味着,申请者需要进一步计划如何将资金提前转移出中国。

不过,尽管金额有所提高,但美国的这项投资移民计划,仍比其他国家的同类型移民计划要便宜很多。

EB5Sir注:这点没错,这里指的是6月4日的参议院提案,涨价到80万基本是共识,是否会因为涨价而减少申请人数,个人感觉一定会的。老美感觉太好,如果单看投资额,确实EB-5最便宜,但是EB-5不是旱涝保收的投资,和欧洲买房移民等不具有可比性。

2. 需披露更多的财务信息

寻求EB-5投资的项目,要求申请者在如何支配投资资金方面披露更多的信息。更为严格的审查制度,同样要求项目方 - 诸如房产开发商 - 没有犯罪记录。

“这笔投资将支付哪些人的收入,以及这笔资金将用于做什么,等更为详细的投资证明将被要求提供,政府可以此判断这其中是否存在欺诈行为。”移民律师Ron Klasko说,“这是对投资者的保护。”

与此同时,投资者将可能接受针对其资金来源更为彻底的审查。他们必须证明这项资金是合法收入,同时合法转移至美国。

一些国会提案甚至禁止由朋友赠与的大额资金来源。EB-5签证一直以来都是企业和投资个人进行欺诈行为的重灾区。据美国司法部消息,今年早些时候,中国官员前妻赵世兰就因洗钱和移民欺诈等罪名在华盛顿州被捕,赵世兰和前夫乔建军被控通过EB-5非法获得美国签证。

EB5Sir注:这里指的也是参议院6月4日的提案,涉及两点。其一,对于项目方和区域中心加强监管,对投资者是好事。其二,对于资金来源,将要求更为严格,不过该提案在这点要求过于苛刻,不知道是否能够真正落地。赵世兰的案子,之前也报道过,她通过EB-5进入美国,并且当时已经同他的贪官丈夫离婚了,但是还做假的婚姻证明,将前夫作为配偶带人美国,因此涉嫌移民欺诈。

3. 投资者将不得不向他们从未听说的村镇进行投资

议员们就EB-5是否应该集中于城市或乡镇展开了激烈的讨论。现行的政策包括着两个区域,然而更多的投资集中于纽约或洛杉矶等大城市。

一些人表示,在富裕的城市地区进行的投资对于增加该区域的就业十分有效,因为这些城市通常被低就业率的地区所包围。例如正在曼哈顿修建的摩天大楼为那些生活在其周边却不能支付城市生活的低收入人群提供了就业机会。

另一些人则表示,该投资计划应该锁定那些乡村地区,因为那里有更多需要工作的人。

问题是“中国投资者对乡下并不感兴趣”,移民律师Bernard Wolfsdorf表示,他们把钱投到自己熟悉的地方会感到更加安全,例如旧金山而不是爱荷华州的某个小镇。

专家表示,这一特殊问题反映了一场独特的政治斗争,国会议员们都在为各自的州和地区争取利益,该议题将如何解决还有待观察。

EB5Sir注:这就是我们最近一直在谈的TEA认定的问题,这是国会当前争议最为激烈的。而戏称的爱荷华州,正是参议院大佬Grassley的选区。当然,TEA定义的改革,尚未有定论,只能说也许将不得不投资到乡村。

4. 变革将可能回溯

对于这些政策调整,政策执行者将决定它们将何时生效。他们将决定该法案立即执行,或是在未来生效。他们同时可以选择将有效期提前,这意味着那些早期申请EB-5计划的投资者,将依据新的高投资金额和要求重新提交相关信息,并遵守新的办理流程要求。

EB5Sir注:这点是指,最近我们一直在谈的法案悬而未决的另一大问题,祖父条款。法案何时生效,是否有追溯力,生效之后投资的项目和投资者能否继续适用老法案的问题,都还是个未知数。但是,如果新法案要追溯到老的投资者的话,可能性应该微乎其微,除非美国移民局做好了充分的准备,被告上法庭那是肯定的。

最后,法案究竟会是怎样,我们都还不知道,但是从现有消息而言,大致能对上文做个分析:

1. 第一点,涨价,应该是国会共识;

2. 第二点,第一部分,加强项目方和区域中心监管也是共识;第二部分,是否会严格按照6月4日参议院的提案,严格资金来源证明到苛刻的地方,尚不得知。不过,严格资金来源证明一定是趋势,单从移民局最近的做法而言,我们就已经能看出来。

3. 第三点,TEA定义的争议,是所有争议中最大的,而且是所谓的意识形态的争议,究竟鹿死谁手,不得而知,希望双方能拿出个中庸的方案。

4. 第四点,祖父条款,按照CNN所谓的回溯回去的可能性,个人认为非常小,难点在于新法案生效后,如果对老项目的新投资者如何有个宽限期的问题。

总之,CNN Money的报道,与实际情况只是略有出入,就是几个标题有些吓人。最后,再强调一点,在所有都未有定论的当下,刚忙过9.30,继续忙12.11才是正事。

原文作者:Sophia Yan,原文来源:CNN Money,翻译:侨报。

It may get harder for rich Chinese to buy green cards
By Sophia Yan

It's about to get a lot harder to buy a green card.

The U.S. government runs a program that grants permanent residency to foreigners who sink at least $500,000 into a job-creating investment. The controversial immigrant investor program, known as EB-5, has been hugely popular with rich Chinese, but lawmakers are considering changes that could make getting a green card a bit tougher.

Supporters of the program say foreign investors have provided an important alternative source of financing, benefiting major real estate investments, such as Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards and smaller projects, like a North Dakota factory that makes biodegradable food containers.

But critics argue that it's a way for the global elite to buy U.S. citizenship. They say the scheme has too much red tape and parts of it are mismanaged to the point of fraud.

A number of reform proposals have been floated in Congress, which recently issued a temporary stopgap measure that will keep the current program running past its original expiration date until early December.

Here are four ways the program is likely to change:

1) It's going to get more expensive

The EB-5 program currently requires foreign investors to invest at least $500,000 or $1 million depending on the project, and prove those funds helped to create jobs. One of the legislative proposals on the table now would raise those amounts to $800,000 to $1.2 million, while keeping the job-creation provisions.

The program, which has been around since 1990, is long overdue for an investment amount adjustment, though the higher rate is unlikely to "decrease the number of people investing in the program," said Marcum's David Appel, an accountant who works on EB-5 issues.

It does, however, mean it will be tougher for wealthy Chinese to participate. China has strict capital controls, which restrict the amount of cash that individuals can take out of the country. A higher investment amount will mean that interested applicants will have to plan further in advance to move the funds out of China.

Still, even at an increased rate, the U.S. program remains cheaper than similar programs in other countries.

Related: U.S. runs out of investor visas again as Chinese flood program

2) Increased financial disclosures

Projects seeking EB-5 funding will likely be required to provide more information about how investor money is being spent. Increased scrutiny is also expected to show that parties working on the investments -- such as real estate developers -- don't have a criminal history.

"There will be more disclosure of who is getting paid with their money, what use is being made of their money ... so the government can see if there is any fraud going on," said Ron Klasko, an immigration lawyer. "These are really protections for the investors."

At the same time, investors will probably also be subject to a more thorough review of where exactly their investment funds came from. They'll have to be able to prove that it was legally earned and transferred to the U.S.

Some proposals in Congress would even prohibit some funding sources, such as a large monetary gift from a friend.

The EB-5 program has been a target for fraud, from both businesses and investors.

Earlier this year, Shilan Zhao, the ex-wife of a former Chinese official, was arrested in Washington state on charges of money laundering and immigration fraud, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Zhao and her ex-husband, Jianjun Qiao, were charged with fraudulently obtaining visas through the EB-5 program.

3) Investors may have to invest in rural towns they've never heard of

Lawmakers are locked in a battle over whether EB-5 projects should be focused on rural or urban areas. Current projects are in both, with many in big cities, such as New York or Los Angeles.

Some say investments in affluent urban areas are effective in adding jobs to a community, as they're often surrounded by low employment areas. A major skyscraper being built in Manhattan, for example, is likely to create jobs for people who live in the surrounding area, who can't afford to live in the city, Klasko said.

Others, however, say the program should be focused on sending funds to rural areas where more people are seeking work.

The problem is that "Chinese investors are less interested in rural areas," said immigration attorney Bernard Wolfsdorf. They feel more secure sinking their money into places they're familiar with, such as San Francisco, rather than a small town in Iowa.

Experts say this particular point is a typical political battle -- members of Congress seeking investments for their home states and districts -- and it remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved.

4) The changes could be retroactive

With these changes, lawmakers can choose when they'll be effective. They could decide to allow them to kick in immediately, or in the future, but they could also choose roll back the effective date. That means applicants who had applied previously to the program could all of a sudden be subject to new requirements and a higher investment amount.

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