-by Jack Minor – -
A Colorado organization is recruiting foreign investors using a government visa program that critics say amounts to selling U.S. citizenship.
The Colorado Regional Center is promoting the program, stating that the investor, “has an opportunity to obtain permanent residency in the United States for the investor and his or her spouse and unmarried dependent children under the age of 21.”
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program provides a way for families to obtain a fast track to citizenship after only five years if they are willing to make an investment of at least $500,000 in a qualifying project in the United States.
The CRC is operated by Waveland Ventures which has received over $185 million in tax credits since 2005 to invest in various business and commercial real estate projects across the country. The company founded the CRS in May of 2010.
The cost varies depending on where the project is located. If an investor builds the project in an area with high unemployment, called a Targeted Employment Area, or in a town or city having a population of less than 20,000, the cost is only $500,000. If the project is located elsewhere, the cost of the investment jumps to $ 1 million.
The EB-5 program was established by Congress to stimulate immigration by providing an incentive for foreigners to invest and create jobs in America. One of the main requirements apart from the cost of the investment is that the project must create at least 10 new jobs. If the project is located within the area of a regional center, “indirect jobs” such as increased workers at a new fast food restaurant or similar business are also counted as jobs created.
For foreigners desiring entry into America, the program offers several advantages. The investor does not have to be sponsored, can qualify for residency benefits for dependents when attending college or a university and have the opportunity to become a citizen after only five years.
Under the program multiple partners can pool their resources, so that instead of a single investor spending an amount of say $3 million, the amount can be spread out over six investors. Those qualifying for the program are not required to live where the project is built, but instead can live anywhere in the country.
In a letter to interested investors, Don Marostica, a very moderate former R. rep, Director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development said “Under the EB-5 Regional Center Program, you can invest in a qualified project and receive green cards for you, your spouse and your dependent children. This entitles you and your family to residency in the United States.”
The program is already being used in Maryland. Promoters of a casino called Maryland Live! travelled to Shanghai and convinced 50 Chinese to each invest $500,000 in the project. Under the terms of the program, the investment can be withdrawn after only two years.
While supporters of the program decry it as a way to help create jobs, critics say the program amounts to nothing more than selling U.S. citizenship for the right price.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Maryland Senate Minority Leader, Nancy Jacobs is said to be considering legislation barring the use of investor visas for state projects. “That just sounds like we’re selling citizenship,” Jacobs said. “It doesn’t pass the smell test. It seems like we’re turning the country over to the Chinese.”
The Chinese are also attempting to use the visa program to build a 10,000 to 30,000 acre “technology zone near the Boise, Id. airport. The project will have a manufacturing and warehouse zone tied to the airport. The Chinese would also have full landing rights to the Boise airport.