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Entrepreneurial opportunities for immigrants

Florida could be a destination for immigrants who invest at least $500,000 in order to take part in the EB-5 investor visa program. Through this program, immigrants have the opportunity to set up businesses that create at least 10 jobs in economically struggling areas. They will be granted conditional permanent residency status and can bring immediate family members with them.

The program has been in existence since 1990 but has been underused. While it could be an excellent opportunity for cities in need of jobs and revitalization, both urban and rural areas have been slow to promote it. However, a change could be underway as recognition of the benefits of this program seems to be growing. A total of around 16,000 applicants have been approved, and 4,000 of those were in 2012.

However, individuals who want to take advantage of the program will still face some bureaucratic hurdles. Approval can take up to two years. Furthermore, there is a significant backlog of roughly 6,000 investors waiting for approval, and they have no guarantee of a positive outcome.

Regional centers run the program, and though their numbers have increased a great deal in recent years, most still have a challenge in recruiting investors. Most of these centers are private although a few are publicly run.

Immigration can be complex whether or not an individual is seeking an EB-5 visa. Individuals may qualify through other means, and an immigration attorney might be able to assist in reviewing those options, including opportunities to immigrate due to certain skills or abilities. Attorneys may also be of help in exploring business opportunities for qualified individuals.

Source: Citylab, "America's Booming Pay-to-Stay Visa Program Still Has Tons of Room to Grow", Kriston Capps, July 28, 2014

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