David North, a fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that examines immigration policies, said the foreign investors in the EB-5 program are primarily motivated by a desire to get green cards for them and their families, not to find lucrative propositions.
“So this EB-5 program by its very nature is often linked to second- and third-class investments,” he said.
Under the EB-5 visa program, foreigners can invest $500,000 or $1 million in American business ventures depending on the location of the project. In GreenTech’s case, the program called for $500,000 investments.
Under the rules of the program, each EB-5 investment must create at least 10 jobs. In exchange, the foreign investors get to stay in the United States for up to two years and can then apply for full citizenship, a speedier process than afforded to most other immigrants who must wait five years after establishing residency before being eligible for citizenship.
The federal U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Immigrant Investor Program also designates so-called “regional centers,” companies that have authorization to handle the company’s EB-5 investments – and can collect thousands of dollars in fees from foreign investors to process their visa applications.
In this case, Gulf Coast Funds Management – a company headed by Tony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – is the designated “regional center” and has raised 45.5 million from foreign investors for GreenTech, according to an internal USCIS document obtained by The Associated Press that outlines background information about the firm. Rodham has not responded to phone messages at Gulf Coast Funds or a message sent to an email address listed in government reports submitted to the government.
Hybrid Kinetic Motors, a predecessor to GreenTech, paid Gulf Coast $250,000 for assistance in setting the EB-5 program, according to a lawsuit between Wang and his former partner. Regional centers collect additional fees for processing the investments.<< previous 1 2 3 4 5 next >>