The Real Deal Miami

U.S. slows visa program that keys South Florida development

February 27, 2012 03:45PM

The U.S. government appears to be putting the brakes on a visa program that’s been critical to South Florida’s real estate and construction industries, Fox News reported.

The program, EB-5, offers visas to foreigners who invest between $500,000 and $1 million in job creating ventures. Developers have become dependent on the program as a source of financing for projects, especially in South Florida where interest from Latin American investors is high, because of  tight lending standards. As a result, the U.S. had set aside 219 zones of high unemployment where EB-5 participants can obtain visas for a reduced development. Twenty of those zones are in Florida, second only to California’s 58.

But the government has denied applications for 61 percent of all applications for new high-unemployment zones thus far in fiscal year 2012, compared to 39 percent during the prior year. Further, Fox News said the government has also begun demanding more evidence of direct job creation in EB-5 investment cases. [Fox News]