A Manhattan-based immigration lawyer and real estate broker wants to connect wealthy Chinese investors looking for green cards with small developers and nonprofits to build affordable housing, recreation centers, assisted living facilities and other projects across the city.
Min Chan hopes to tap the controversial federal immigration program known as EB-5, which grants visas to foreigners who invest $500,000 in U.S. projects that create 10 full-time jobs within 2 years. The program also gives visas to their families and children.
Roughly 85 percent of applicants last year were from China, thanks to the county's soaring number of millionaires in recent years, according to a report from commercial real estate firm Savills Studley. The State Department announced this month that the U.S. already reached its quota for its 10,000 EB-5 visas to be given out this fiscal year because of demand from China — marking the second year in a row the program hit its limit.
The program, which enables developers to tap low-interest funding, is intended to be a job-generator for high-poverty and high-unemployment areas.
In reality, EB-5 is helping fund some of the city's swankiest projects from some of the top developers like Silverstein Properties' towering, ultra-luxurious Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown rising at 30 Park Place, the Durst Organization's Danish-desinged glassy pyramid-shaped high-end rental rising on West 57th Street and Kushner Real Estate Group's NoMad tower at 281 Fifth Ave.
The EB-5 program — which is up for review in Congress this September — has come under fire for lax regulations that have led to shadowy transactions and scams. Some watchdogs have raised national security concerns since the fast-tracked EB-5 visas aren't required to have the same background checks as other visa applicants.