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Charter schools benefit from EB-5 investment visa program

The EB-5 investor's visa program has received a fair amount of interest in recent years. Developers turned to the program as a source of financing when the U.S. economy went into doldrums. Not long ago, this blog reported that Congress extended the program, shortly before the law was set to sunset.

The EB-5 investor's visa program allows foreign nationals to invest in businesses that will create new jobs for the U.S. economy. Developments in Florida have relied on funding from the program to move forward. Nationwide, the business visa program has provided funds for commercial real estate projects, hotels and a variety of recreational projects such as ski resorts.

Some cities have looked to the program as a potential source of funding for professional sports stadiums. But an interesting idea has been catching on in Florida, and across the nation. The EB-5 program is being used as a source of funding in the world of education.

Charter schools have been the beneficiary of EB-5 visa investments in several parts of the country. Foreign investors have provided funding for the basic infrastructures of new schools--the brick and mortar, class rooms, athletic facilities and science labs. A 19th century orphanage was renovated in one state-making the structure into a modern charter school-using investments from foreign nationals.

In Florida, the idea reportedly is on fire, with state officials indicating that foreign investment in charter schools to reach $90 million.

Generally, the investor's visa program allows foreign nationals to obtain conditional residency in the United States for investing in a new business enterprise that creates jobs. If the business is successful in creating the jobs within two years, the investor can obtain permanent residency in the U.S.

Investments of $1 million are generally required, with a minimum investment of $500,000 in targeted areas that have high unemployment or are located in rural areas, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Source: Reuters, "The new U.S. visa rush: Build a charter school, get a green card," Stephanie Simon, Oct. 12, 2012

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