The city council of Tampa, Florida met on March 7th
to vote on a proposal by Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin to create an EB-5
Regional Center in the city to attract foreign investment from EB-5 investors. Foreign
capital would create more jobs without cost to U.S. taxpayers.

EB-5 investors are attracted by the promise of U.S.
residency. If they invest into an EB-5 Regional Center, United States Citizenship
and Immigration Services will grant green cards to the investor, their spouse and
children under the age of 21. For some investors, this is the only option for
permanent residence in the United States. The majority of EB-5 investors are
from China, but the program continually grows more popular all over the world
in countries such as Taiwan, the Middle East and Latin America.

An EB-5 Regional Center is specifically designated by USCIS
to manage EB-5 projects. Regional Centers have existed since 1992 when they
were approved by Congress under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program. A
Regional Center may be a private or public body and may receive various
investments for multiple projects at once as long as each investment creates 10
American jobs.

The Tampa city council approved Capin's proposal by a vote
of 4-3. The matter is now in the hands of the city's mayor, Bob Buckhorn, who
is hesitant about creating an EB-5 center in the city. Many cities and
potential investors have become concerned about fraud since the Securities and
Exchange Commission charged Intercontinental Regional Center Trust of Chicago (IRCTC)
with fraud in February of this year for misrepresentation and defrauding 250
EB-5 investors of $145 million and $11 million (for administrative fees).

Mayor Buckhorn is understandably concerned; however, this
case should not reflect negatively on all Regional Centers (of which there are
over 220 across the country). Capin believes that, if administrated carefully,
an EB-5 center could be greatly beneficial to the city of Tampa. She has been pushing
the proposal for months.

Some of Capin's colleagues disagree. Some of them feel that
Tampa businesses should continue receiving EB-5 capital without an established
Regional Center. For example, the 1912 federal courthouse in Tampa's downtown
is currently being renovated into a hotel with the use of EB-5 investments. Others,
such as Council Chairman Charlie Miranda, do not condone the EB-5 Program all
together, arguing that it is immoral for the United States to deem wealthy
investors worthy of entry into the country while other would-be immigrants wait
years before being granted a green card.

Despite this opposition, Capin has support from within the
community and some of her colleagues. Councilwoman Mary Mulhern agreed that Tampa
should be focused on the creation more jobs. Meanwhile, the University of South
Florida, the Tampa International Airport SEO Joe Lopano and Congresswoman Katy
Castor were supportive of the creation of an EB-5 center in Tampa.

Whether or not Mayor Buckhorn will approve the proposal is
yet to be seen. Overall, many believe that a Regional Center would bring
economic growth to the city and foster development with no cost to U.S.
taxpayers in a way that would be beneficial for years to come.

For more information on the EB-5 visa, please visit