EB-5 Falsehoods and Failures: Regional Centers and Hudson Yards

By David North on February 8, 2021

If one googles "How many EB-5 regional centers are there?" one sees:


The first block is hopelessly out of date and highly misleading, notably in the statement about "more being approved regularly" when the population of these entities fell by more than 100 (from 792 to 673) in the period of a year. The government's statement appears to be correct.

Regional centers are the U.S.-based middleman agencies that manage EB-5 investments. That program, which grants a family-sized set of immigrant visas to alien investors who put $900,000 (formerly $500,000) into a DHS-approved, but not guaranteed, investment, usually in urban real estate, is in a steady state of decline, as we have noted earlier. Until recently, there were backlogs for these visas in China, India, and Vietnam because of country-of-origin ceilings; now, the waiting lists for India and Vietnam have disappeared.

A third indicator of the decline in the program made the front page of the New York Times on February 6, in a long piece about a very expensive real estate development in Manhattan's Far West Side, Hudson Yards, which involved, among other investments, some $1.2 billion from the EB-5 program.

Calling the project a "Shining Pandemic Ghost Town", the Times reported on two groups of EB-5 investors, both from China, suing the developers. It said that its main tenant, Neiman Marcus, had closed its store and gone out of business, and that Covid-19 had discouraged sales of its ultra-luxurious condos.

A fourth, and telling, indicator is the falling number of applications (the I-526) by EB-5 investors; in FY 2017, for instance, they were running about 3,000 a quarter. In the second quarter of FY 2020 there were 21 of them, and in the third quarter, 40.

Does all this mean that we will be receiving fewer EB-5 immigrants this year? Not likely, as there is a considerable backlog of approved visas for the Chinese that will take years to fulfill.