Updates from IIUSA with Bob Kraft – Episode 107
What is the state of EB-5 during this global pandemic and how is IIUSA performing in the midst of the new regulations and the state of the world? On this episode, Mona and Mark are joined by Bob Kraft to discuss what is happening with Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the national trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center Program. Listen in to understand what is happening with the EB-5 Program during the COVID-19 pandemic and what the future holds for investors and projects alike.
The coronavirus has spread across the world over the past few months, leading many to question the preparedness of governments to handle pandemics and the resilience of the global economy in such a crisis. In this episode, we address swirling rumors regarding EB-5 and economic stimulation, as well as concerns over the future of the EB-5 Program under the new regulations released in November 2019.
Robert W. Kraft pairs 40 years of experience as an international business executive, entrepreneur, and consultant to help drive economic growth and job creation in southeastern Wisconsin and the Midwest. As chairman, president, and CEO of FirstPathway Partners (FPP), Mr. Kraft has helped hundreds of investors move through the Department of Homeland Security’s EB-5 Regional Center Program. Kraft also serves as president of the board of directors for IIUSA (Invest in the USA), the national trade association for the federal program. He provides ongoing support to EB-5 industry-related organizations, presenting globally on a number of topics, and has appeared as an expert source in media outlets around the world.
The State of the World with Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Over the past few weeks COVID-19 has spread across different continents and has been declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
- A rumor was circulated recently, stating that significant EB-5 measures would be included in the US’s $2 trillion stimulus package – including a decrease in the minimum investment amount to $450,000 and an increase in the total visas available under the EB-5 Program to 75,000.
- Bob Kraft confirms that IIUSA made a worldwide press release refuting the rumors. The rumor was also denied by Lindsay Graham in an interview on Fox News last week.
IIUSA on the Hill
- The EB-5 industry is still in very good shape despite the challenges of these uncertain and ever-changing times. To this end, IIUSA is actively engaged in lobbying members of Congress and inspiring ongoing dialogue with members of the judiciary and their staff.
- IIUSA is using its position on the Hill to encourage consideration of the EB-5 Program for stimulus package add-ons expected in the coming months. It would not be the first time the EB-5 Program was used to spur economic stimulation in a time of market downturn.
- IIUSA continues to be the most consistent voice on the Hill advocating for the EB-5 program and its reform and are hopeful that EB-5 will continue to significantly assist the US economy.
EB-5 and the US Economy
- During the US Recession of 2008, the EB-5 program became increasingly popular as a method of increasing foreign direct investments (FDI), stimulating the economy and promoting job creation across the country. The Regional Center program was created as a method to encourage EB-5 investments and development projects, which allows indirect and induced jobs to count toward the job creation requirements.
- Some projections say COVID-19 may impact the US economy far more than the 2008 crisis, causing some to urge the government to consider how the EB-5 program may again be of value to the economy.
- IIUSA hopes to encourage positive legislative reforms to the program, including altering the derivative interpretation and reducing backlogs to encourage investors from retrogressed countries.
- Currently, there is widespread support for the program on both sides of the aisle, particularly in the midst of the current economic climate and the program’s responsibility for significant economic growth after 2008.
Investor Responses to the Increased Minimum Investment
- The $900,000 minimum investment amount is not shocking when compared to that of several other countries, and the investors seem to recognize that. The increase was expected in light of the fact that the minimum amount had not been altered due to inflation since the 1990s.
- In the wake of the current pandemic, many people are actively spending time online to explore their options and their ability to use EB-5 as a vehicle to facilitate their move to the US.
- Although the US was initially slow to respond to the pandemic, it has since enacted very strong measures to deal with the situation and subsequently, mortality rates in the US are significantly lower than several other countries. Some investors believe that the US economy will be one of few that will be able to successfully and rapidly recover in the pandemic’s wake.
FirstPathway Partners (FPP)
- First Pathway as one of the oldest regional centers and has offices around the world, having raised EB-5 capital from 44 different countries. They have also started an E-2 franchise providing appropriate offerings for investors considering an alternate route to stay in the US.
- Consulates often give investors difficulty with E-2 franchises, as they suspect that the investor is not in control as required by the regulations. First Pathway, however, has not run into this issue because of the unique way they have structured their franchises and time spent educating consulate officers on the structure to avoid misunderstandings.
Why Join IIUSA?
- IIUSA provides the most up-to-date information on the EB-5 program and community through its online blog, magazine and conferences and events hosted worldwide. These events provide excellent opportunities to meet investors, agents and regional centers.
- IIUSA has specialized committees, such as the leadership committee and public policy committee, which MSA Global has been involved with for years.
- IIUSA is not only beneficial for regional centers and attorneys, but also provides benefits for stakeholders in the EB-5 community including projects, rentable regional centers, municipal economic development groups, private equity groups, accountants, developers, etc.