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Florida starting new immigration program for investors

Miami is on the verge of offering permanent residence to foreign nationals as part of its plan to motivate economic development in Southern Florida. The new program promises employment visas in exchange for investments in the area.

Miami's mayor announced the program on Aug. 7 at City Hall. The city formed a new agency in order to oversee the EB-5 visa regional center. The center is the first of its kind to actually be run by a city. This program matches up area projects with investors by acting as an intermediary between local companies and the investors who are willing to back them. Applicants will be able to submit their business plan to the city. Approved plans will be included as part of a portfolio that will then be marketed to investors who are interested in acquiring a visa to the United States.

In order to qualify for the program, investors must invest at least $1 million for regular projects or $500,000 for those projects that are in an area of high unemployment. The city will control the funds. Then, the investors receive a 2-year green card for the investors and the investor's immediate family. If the project is successful and creates at least 10 jobs in the United States, the investor can receive permanent residency and dividends on their investment. However, if the investment fails, the investor will lose green card status. The city benefits by getting the revenue from application fees and a portion of the secured financing. According to officials, the Department of Homeland Security will look into the background of the investors to take care of any safety concerns. The portfolio may begin as early as September 2014.

Individuals who are interested in investing in the city project or who would otherwise be interested in acquiring a visa may decide to discuss this information with an immigration attorney. An immigration lawyer may be able to inform a client of possibilities for visa acquisition.

Source: Miami Herald, "City of Miami unveils new agency to swap visas for foreign investment", David Smiley, August 07, 2014

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