EB-5 Visa Program Gaining Popularity

Florida’s EB-5 Visa program, which allows foreigners to gain permanent residency in the state by way of investing in property, has attracted a great deal of attention from …

Florida’s EB-5 Visa program, which allows foreigners to gain permanent residency in the state by way of investing in property, has attracted a great deal of attention from and participation by foreign buyers; however, Florida is not the only one with the same idea. The Bahamas, Spain, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and many other countries are doing it, too. Many of these countries are motivated in much the same way as Florida, too – they are trying novel approaches to bring money into their economies because they are struggling with national debt or other fiscal problems. For more on this continue reading the following article from JDSupra.

The growing popularity of EB-5 Visas with foreign investors is exciting to see for those of us watching the Florida economy, particularly Miami. Our past couple of posts have discussed aspects of this new “buy a home, get a visa” incentive to foreigners to bring their investments here to our shores, and the EB-5 Visa seems to be catching on with people with money to invest that live in any number of countries around the world.

But we’re not the only country that is offering this type of incentive. Nope, the United States is only one of several nations that are promoting a type of residency visa to foreigners who will buy real estate in their country.

According to a recent article originally published in The Atlantic Cities, and now popping up on several sites (such as Quartz), “Buy a House, Get a Visa: Coming Soon Everywhere?” more and more countries are putting together these sorts of packages. From the article, we learn of EB-5 type visas (residency visas for real estate buyers) in:

  • Spain
  • Ireland and
  • Portugal.

From their research, these countries appear to be offering residency visas as part of larger campaigns to get their national economies out of crisis situations. Spain, for example, has approximately $200,000,000,000 euros in bad mortgages (today’s currency exchange rate is 1 Euro = 1.30 U.S. Dollars, so you do the math).

Which means Spain is offering residency to those who buy a home in Spain for a price that exceeds the mean home price of 160,000 Euros. Similarly, Portugal offers residency to foreign buyers of Portugese property valued at 400,000 Euros or higher and Ireland, the same but the minimum is 500,000 Euros.

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That’s just Europe.

From The Address magazine, we’ve got another list of countries (other than the United States) that are offering residency for real estate:

  • Malaysia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • Bahamas
  • Seychelles
  • Mauritius.

In these countries, buying real estate automatically brings with it residency status. For example, you buy land in Malaysia, and Malaysian residency is like a freebie: you have to do nothing more: no forms, nothing.

However, the country may have some laws in place on what real estate purchases apply here. In Malaysia, for example, to get the automatic residency all foreigners must spend the legal minimum on the purchase price of the property, currently set at 124,500 Euros. Foreigners are not allowed to purchase real estate at any price lower than this minimum amount.

Which means all these economies are competing with Florida, right?

Perhaps in some way, these residency for real estate (buy a house, get a visa) campaigns are all competing with each other for the same investors. However, Florida need not worry too much about buyers opting for land in the United Arab Emirates over a Miami offering, for example, because some places are more appreciated than others in the international investor community.

Numbers aren’t clear on which “buy a house, get a visa” campaign is the most successful, world-wide. However, Florida is beloved by many and should be ranking high in the global competition.

Consider, after all, how Florida ranks within the United States. According to Inman News, within the United States, Florida is overwhelmingly the most popular location for foreign investment, the following list in order of popularity in 2011:

  • Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida
  • North Point-Bradenton-Sarasota, Florida
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Arizona
  • New York County, N.Y. (Manhattan)
  • Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida
  • Las Vegas-Paradise, Nevada

And, according to the National Association of Realtors, foreign investors were putting their money in the following investments:

This article was republished with permission from JDSupra.


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