US Green Cards available for Myanmar’s rich

A scheme allowing affluent foreigners to invest in the United States in return for permanent residency has reached Myanmar.

The US government’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, gives wealthy people the chance to obtain a Green Card in return for investing in construction projects in the US.

It was launched in 1990, to “stimulate the US economy by creating jobs and capital investment”, according to the program’s website. In return for investing US$500,000 into a government-approved project, foreigners and their families can live and work in the US for life.

Historically undersubscribed, the scheme gathered steam in 2006, with numbers rising by 1400 percent over the following six years. Most applications come from China, but the program is becoming increasingly popular in India, Iran, Pakistan and Russia, according to the EB-5 website.

It has now reached Myanmar. New York-based developer Related Companies has partnered with local firm Golden Development Group to market a megaproject in New York.

Hudson Yards is a $20 billion mixed-use development on Manhattan Island which already has more than 2000 EB-5 program participants, according to a brochure distributed at a marketing event in Yangon.

The project includes office towers, retail, residential and entertainment space. The centrepiece is a giant 92-storey, 329-meter office and retail high-rise called Manhattan Tower.

Daw Golden Goldene, managing director of Golden Development Group, said the program offers an alternative choice to businesspeople. “America is one of the best countries in the world for education and business,” she said.

“The US government hands out investment-related Green Cards to 10,000 families every year,” Aymeric Fraise, managing director for Asia at Related Regional Centres, told prospective investors in Yangon.

“While the EB-5 program is popular in other countries, very few people know about it here. We intend to make this more popular among businesspeople from Myanmar,” he said.

The EB-5 website promotes the scheme as financially safe, and an easier option than opening a business in the US.

However, it comes with risks. As with most investments, there are no guarantees the project will be completed and investors will receive their money back, said Joanna Rose, senior vice president at Related Companies.

In addition to $500,000, investors must pay a syndication fee of $50,000 to cover administration expenses, and must create at least 10 full-time US jobs through the project.

They must also be willing to stay in the US for six months a year, and have no criminal record. Spouses and children are also eligible for permanent residence in the US, but children must be younger than 21 at the time of application.

Participants will also be screened for whether the money they want to invest has been properly sourced, taxed and earned legally.

“We cannot ensure that all investors will get a Green Card. But our experience across the globe shows that 99 percent of applications will be successful,” said Daw Golden Goldene.

Source: Myanmar Times

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