The city of Oakland may be able to attract foreign investment for a new major sports arena with the help of the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
The original plans for a new Oakland A’s Victory Court ballpark were squashed when state lawmakers were enabled to seize money that had been slated for redevelopment efforts. Now Oakland city officials are looking immigration programs that allow foreigners to obtain their green cards by investing in the United States. Utilizing this new source of funding may transform the hopes of building the new stadium into a reality.
The EB-5 immigration program helps spur U.S. job growth and development by giving foreign investors the chance to come to the United States by making a sizeable capital investment. The investment amount is typically between $500,000 and $1 million dollars. Once the immigrant investors have successfully completed the program they are permanent residency and are even able to obtain permanent green cards for their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 25.
The recently completed development of Oakland’s Tribute Tower, which was completed in December of 2011, was also financed with EB-5 program funding. Now Oakland’s mayor Jean Quan has been heavily appealing to Chinese investors in order to attract funding to a host of new Oakland development projects. These new projects include the development of the new ballpark, shops, a convention center, and other professional sports facilities. However, many of these developments turned out to be too large-scale to rely solely on foreign investment money.
EB-5 funding has been utilized for other development projects across the San Francisco Bay Area. For instance, former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown looked to the program and EB-5 money also helped the developers of Jack London Square.
The number of immigrants entering the United States through the EB-5 immigration program has been on the rise in recent years. A record number of EB-5 applications were approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2011. In fact, 3,858 investors applied for the program and 1,403 were approved; both of these figures are record numbers. Aside from EB-5 participation from the Chinese, many investors from Russia, India, and Venezuela also show interest in the program.
Participation in the EB-5 visa program has also been on the rise due to an increasing number of EB-5 Regional Centers. Regional Centers administer investments for EB-5 program participants. There are several Regional Centers throughout the bay area, such as the San Francisco Regional Center, which have helped pump EB-5 investment money around the Bay Area.
The EB-5 visa program is seen as a win-win by many immigration experts. Although this path to U.S. citizenship isn’t a traditional one, it can greatly benefit both foreign immigrants and the United States economy. The program isn’t as simple as simply purchasing a green card. For example, the EB-5 investments must lead to the creation of 10 American jobs over a 2 year period.
But the program is not without its pitfalls. If the immigrants cannot meet certain EB-5 requirements within the allotted 2 year period then they do not get a green card, nor do they get their money back.