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如何用50万美元投资房地产换美国绿卡

更新时间:2015-5-25 8:58:40 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Want a Green Card? Invest in Real Estate
如何用50万美元投资房地产换美国绿卡

Like many of her fellow classmates at New York University, Yanchu Zhao has a busy schedule. A college junior, she has a double major in economics and journalism, and juggles classes, an internship and life with roommates in a rental near Herald Square.

和纽约大学的大多数同学一样,赵言初(音译)每天都非常忙碌。她是大三学生,主修经济和新闻两个专业,在教室、实习地点,以及与室友在哈罗德广场合租的住处之间忙得不亦乐乎。

But unlike many of her fellow classmates, Ms. Zhao came to the United States on a student visa. “A lot of students talked about how hard it was to get a job in New York and in the United States,” she said. “My parents heard that if I can get a green card, it would be easier for me to succeed.”

但和同学们不一样的是,赵女士是国际学生,拿的是学生签证。“很多学生都说在纽约,在美国很难找到工作,”她说,“父母听说如果我能拿到绿卡,成功的机会就大很多。”

Yi Lin and his wife, Molly Xi, in their new home in Manhattan. Under a federal program known as EB-5, they received green cards in exchange for their investment in a Miami real estate project.
林毅和妻子莫莉·习在曼哈顿的新家,在名为EB-5的联邦法案之下,他们通过投资迈阿密的一项房地产计划获得了绿卡。

So two years ago, Ms. Zhao’s parents invested $500,000 in a hotel project on Bryant Park, knowing that their investment could be parlayed into green cards for the family. Three months ago, their paperwork came through and the Zhaos became permanent residents of the United States.

于是两年前,赵女士的父母为布莱恩特公园的一个酒店项目投资了50万美元,因为这笔投资会为这个家庭带来绿卡这项附加价值。三个月后,他们的书面文件通过了,赵家成了美国永久居民。

While Ms. Zhao’s father has remained in Beijing, her mother joined her in the United States and is now renting a studio on Roosevelt Island and studying English. Investing in real estate projects in exchange for legal immigration status has become big business in New York City. Through a federal visa program known as EB-5, foreigners, more than 80 percent of them from China, are investing billions of dollars in hotels, condominiums, office towers and public/private works in the hope it will result in green cards. Twelve-hundred foreigners have poured $600 million into projects at Hudson Yards; 1,154 have invested $577 million in Pacific Park Brooklyn, the development formerly known as Atlantic Yards; and 500 have put $250 million into the Four Seasons hotel and condominium in the financial district. The list of projects involving EB-5 investments also includes the International Gem Tower on West 47th Street and the New York Wheel on Staten Island.

赵女士的父亲留在北京,母亲来美国找她,在罗斯福岛租下一个一室公寓,开始学习英文。投资房地产换取合法移民身份成了纽约城的一项大买卖。渴望拿到绿卡的外国人(其中80%来自中国)通过这项被称为EB-5的联邦签证方案,已经在美国投入了数以十亿计的美元,建造酒店、公寓、办公楼和其他公共/私人建筑。其中1200多名外国人为哈德逊园区投资6亿美元、1154名外国人为布鲁克林太平洋花园投资5.77亿美元(该开发项目原本名为大西洋园区)、500名外国人为金融区内的四季酒店和公寓投资2.5亿美元。与EB-5投资相关的项目还包括47街的国际宝石大厦,以及史丹顿岛上的纽约之轮。

Under the federal program, a foreigner who invests $500,000 — and in some instances, $1 million — in a project that will create at least 10 jobs can apply for a green card. It generally takes from 22 to 26 months to obtain legal residency through the program, as opposed to several years for other visa programs.

根据这项联邦方案,一名外国人只需投资50万美元(在某些情况下需要100万美元)给某一至少能够产生10个工作机会的项目,便可申请绿卡。在这一计划之下,一般需要22个月至26个月,即可获得合法居住权,其他签证申请方案则需数年之久。

While the EB-5 program has been around since 1990, it was only in the wake of the recession, when securing loans from traditional lenders became difficult, that companies began using it in earnest to raise money for projects. Any company is eligible as long as it hires 10 people per foreign investor. So, for example, a fast-food franchise can raise $1 million from two investors if it hires 20 employees.

EB-5方案是从1990年开始的,当时美国正处于经济衰退之初,从传统贷方处获取贷款变得困难,美国公司开始积极使用这一方案为项目筹款。只要每得到一位外国投资人便雇佣10名员工,任何公司都有资格参与这一方案。比如说,一家快餐特许连锁公司如果雇佣20名员工,便可从两名投资者处募集100万美元。

“Two or three years ago, the government created a structure that made it much easier for us,” said David Finkelstein, the chief operating officer of the American Immigration Group, which advises developers on the visa program. “Now we can use our construction costs and certain soft costs, like architectural costs, to determine how many jobs we will create, and therefore, how much we can raise from investors.”

“两三年前,政府创立了一个流程,让我们能够更加方便地利用这个方案,”美国移民集团的首席执行官大卫·芬克尔斯坦(David Finkelstein)说,该集团就这项移民方案向投资者提供建议。“现在我们可以根据建造成本和其他软性成本,比如与建筑有关的成本,确定某个项目能够创造多少就业机会,从而决定我们可以从投资者那里募集多少钱。”

In the last four years, the program’s popularity has surged. In fiscal year 2010, 1,885 visas were issued. But by fiscal year 2013 that figure jumped 354 percent to 8,564, according to government data. Last year, the entire annual allotment of 10,000 visas had been claimed by August — before the end of the fiscal year in October.

在过去四年里,这个方案越来越受欢迎。在2010财政年度,该方案产生了1885个签证。而在2013财政年度,根据政府数据,该方案产生的签证数一跃而为8564个,一举增长了354%。去年,不到财政年度结束的10月,全年的一万个签证定额到8月就满额了。

This year the quota was reached even earlier, on May 1. Under the program, the family of the investor, including any dependent under 21, can apply for a green card, and each family member is counted toward the quota. As most investors apply as a couple or a family, the supply is used up quickly.

今年这个定量满额的时间更早——五月一日便满额了。根据这个方案,投资者全家,包括任何21岁以下的受抚养者,均可申请绿卡,每个家庭成员都被计算在定额之中。大多数投资者是为夫妻或全家申请绿卡,所以配额用得非常快。

Numbers are hard to come by, but in fiscal year 2013, the most recent year available, investment through the visa program totaled $379 million in New York State, according to data from Invest in the USA, an industry trade organization for the EB-5 program. That is 19 percent of the total investment in the program, second only to California, which makes up 22 percent. This is a major increase from previous years. Investment in New York State for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 combined only came to $327 million. These numbers are low because the data lags, and do not include some of the more recent large-scale projects, like Hudson Yards.

具体数字很难统计,2013财政年度是距目前最近的统计数据,根据特为EB-5方案而成立的工商机构“投资在美国”(Invest in the USA)统计,在该年度里,这项签证方案共为纽约州募集3.79亿美元投资,占据该方案全部投资的19%,仅次于加利福尼亚州的22%。这比前几年有了显著的增加。在2010财政年度和2011财政年度,对纽约州的投资加起来也只有3.27亿美元。这个数字较低主要是因为数据滞后,并且没有把哈德逊园区等最近的几个大型项目包括进来。

For foreign investors who have the money, the program can be an easy way to gain legal residency in the United States.

对于有钱的外国投资者来说,这个方案为他们提供了获取美国合法居留权的方便途径。

In 2009, Yi Lin, 47, was working as a media executive in Shanghai when he began thinking of applying for a green card through the program. He spent two years researching developments, “looking from east to west and north to south,” before he settled on investing $500,000 in a mixed-use project in Miami.

2009年,47岁的林毅(Lin Yi,音译)在上海担任一家媒体的执行官,他开始考虑通过这个方案来申请绿卡。他花费了两年时间研究开发项目,“从东找到西,从北找到南,”最后他为迈阿密一个混合使用型项目投资了50万美元。

“You have to be very clear about the process and the project and how it is financed,” Mr. Lin said. “Unfortunately, many Chinese are clear about the immigration process, but are not familiar with the project they are investing in.” It is important, he said, because if a project fails, foreigners can lose both their investment and the opportunity to secure a green card.

“你得非常清楚这个过程,以及投资项目和它的财务状况,”林先生说。“糟糕的是,很多中国人清楚移民手续,但是不熟悉自己投资的项目。”他说,了解项目也非常重要,如果项目失败,外国人就会损失自己的投资,也失去了获得绿卡的机会。

Mr. Lin’s project in Miami went without a hitch and six months ago, he and his wife, Molly Xi, received green cards. Now, the couple are living in a luxury apartment in Chelsea and Mr. Lin is working as a media consultant. “I stayed in Shanghai for almost 45 years and I want to feel a different life in a different city,” he said. “In terms of worldwide international cities, New York City is the best.”

林在迈阿密投资的项目于六个月前顺利完工,他和妻子莫莉·习(Molly Xi,音译)也得到了绿卡。夫妻二人住在切尔西的豪宅,林先生目前做媒体咨询的工作。“我在上海呆了将近45年,想在另一个城市感受一种不同的生活,”他说。“在全世界的国际化大城市中,纽约市是最好的。”

For Gary Lai, the program is about his children. Mr. Lai, who manufactures women’s apparel, has no plans to leave Taiwan, where he lives. But he wanted to obtain green cards for his son, who is in his third year at the University of California, Irvine, and his teenage daughter, who is in boarding school in California.

加里·赖(Gary Lai,音译)申请这个方案则是为了孩子们。赖先生是女装生产商,本来没打算离开家乡台湾。但他希望为正在加州大学欧文分校读大三的儿子,以及在加州读寄宿中学的女儿取得绿卡。

“My wife comes every few months to see the children, but the green card will make it easier,” Mr. Lai said. “It will also help my son when he graduates to find a job.” After considering several projects, Mr. Lai invested $500,000 in One Fulton Square, a mixed-use project in Flushing, Queens.

“我妻子每过几个月就来看望孩子们,有了绿卡会方便很多,”赖先生说。“而且有了绿卡,我儿子毕业以后也方便找工作。”考虑过几个项目之后,赖先生把50万美元投进了皇后区法拉盛的混合使用型项目富顿广场一号(One Fulton Square)。

Mr. Lin and Mr. Lai are typical of the investors in this program, said Daniel Chang, the head of the Asia desk for the Nikki Field team at Sotheby’s International Realty. “It is really for middle-class and upper-middle-class Chinese, and many are doing it for their children,” Mr. Chang said. “This program is not for the very rich in China, because the superwealthy do not want to pay U.S. taxes.” Instead, he said, the wealthiest Chinese prefer to have their legal residences in low tax jurisdictions like Hong Kong or Singapore, and then take advantage of 10-year tourist visas to the United States.

苏富比国际地产尼基·菲尔德(Nikki Field)团队亚洲部门的负责人丹尼尔·张(Daniel Chang)说,林先生与赖先生是这个方案中的典型投资者。“中产阶级与中上层阶级的中国人已经做好了准备,很多人是为子女而申请的,”张先生说。“这个方案不是为非常富有的中国人准备的,因为非常富有的人不想在美国纳税。”他说,最富的中国人更愿意在香港和新加坡等税收较低的地方取得合法居留权,并且尽量利用美国的10年期旅游签证。

For developers, finding middle-class investors who can prove that their $500,000 investment comes from legitimate endeavors, and who will pass muster with immigration officials, can be tricky.

对于开发商来说,找到可以证明自己的50万美元投资属于合法所得,并符合移民官要求的中产阶级投资者,有时也很棘手。

“The hardest part was showing proof of funds,” Mr. Lai said. As a manufacturer, he received money from several different sources, he said, and “proving that it was all legitimate and giving the right kind of records was challenging.”

“最困难的是证明资金来源,”赖先生说。作为制造商,他从若干不同来源获得收入,“证明这些钱都是合法的,并且提供合适的纪录,还挺麻烦的。”

Identifying investors is a competitive business. Often, developers hire so-called immigration agents in China who use their networks to find investors.

寻找投资者是一项竞争激烈的生意。开发者通常会雇佣中国的所谓移民中介,利用他们的关系网来寻觅投资者。

Developers also take the search for investors in their projects on the road, primarily to China. These presentations can be sedate or flashy affairs. “We had one where they started off with a dance program and a light show,” said Gary M. Rosenberg, a partner of the law firm Rosenberg & Estis, which represents the Durst Organization.

为了寻找投资者,开发商也会去做巡回宣传,主要是去中国。他们的展示有的沉闷,有的花哨。“有一场展示是用跳舞表演和灯光秀开场的,”罗森伯格与艾斯蒂斯(Rosenberg & Estis)法律事务所的合伙人加里·M·罗森伯格(Gary M. Rosenberg)说,该事务所代表的是德斯特集团(Durst Organization)。

Foreign investors put $200 million into Via, a rental building Durst is developing on West 57th Street, and $80 million into Durst’s mixed-use project at 855 Avenue of the Americas; the financing represents about 25 percent of the total cost of the two projects. Mr. Rosenberg said the roadshow for these projects included an M.C., trivia games and prizes. “The first 100 people who signed up to make a $500,000 commitment that day were given iPads,” he said.

德斯特公司目前正在纽约西57街开发一栋名为Via的租赁建筑,资金中的二亿美元来自外国投资者;德斯特在Americas大道855街开发的混合型项目也获得了外国投资者的8000万美元;两个项目中的外国投资约占全部成本的25%。罗森伯格说,为这些项目所做的巡回宣传中也包括主持人互动小游戏和奖品。“前100个签名承诺投资50万美元的人可以获得iPad作为奖品,”他说。

Developers are eager to access the visa program because it is cheaper than many other financing sources. This is in large part because the participants are focused on securing green cards and are therefore willing to take smaller returns on their investment, typically earning less than 1 percent.

开发商对签证方案态度十分积极,因为它比许多其他融资渠道更便宜。很大一部分原因是,参与者更关注获得绿卡,因此愿意接收更少的投资回报,一般来说回报低于1%。

“It is a good financing vehicle,” said Asaf Shuster, the vice president for business development of the Victor Group, which is raising $90 million from 180 foreign investors for a 60-story condominium at 281 Fifth Avenue. The project’s total budget is roughly $400 million, and “in order to build such a big project, you need a lot of equity and a big stack of financing,” Mr. Shuster said.

“这是一种很好的融资机制,”维克托集团(Victor Group)商业开发部副总裁阿萨夫·舒斯特(Asaf Shuster)说,该集团从180名外国投资者手上募集了9000万美元,用于兴建第五大道281号,这是一栋60层的公寓楼。这个项目的总预算大约在4亿美元,“为了兴建这样大的项目,需要大量资产与大量融资,”舒斯特说。

Before the advent of the visa program, the company would have taken out a loan and paid around 12 percent in interest, “but EB-5 money can be as low as 5 percent,” he said. Developers pay the costly immigration agents, as well as legal fees and other expenses, said Mr. Finkelstein, who is advising the Victor Group on 281 Fifth Avenue.

之前没有这个签证方案的时候,公司会申请贷款,付12%左右的利息,“但是EB-5方案的利息只有5%,”他说。此外开发商要向索费颇高的移民中介支付费用,还要支付法律费用等其他款项,芬克尔斯坦说,他为维克托集团在第五大街281号的项目提供咨询。

But while the program can make sense for foreigners and developers, several well-documented cases of fraud have occurred, primarily involving developers who misrepresented themselves to investors and then failed to deliver a completed project. And while a traditional commercial bank pays close attention to construction schedules and dispenses funds as the project proceeds, EB-5 investors deliver lump sums, so a developer could spend the money before the project is complete and wind up with a funding shortfall.

这个方案对外国投资者和开发商来说都是明智的,但也确实发生了几起详细记录在案的造假案,主要是开发商对投资者进行虚假宣传,最后没能完成项目。传统商业银行会密切关注建设计划,随着项目的进行陆续发放资金,而EB-5的投资者要一次性付出资金,所以开发商可以在项目完成之前就花掉这些钱,最后可能以亏空告终。

So far, New York City has yet to have a major problem with EB-5, but it may be only a matter of time. “It usually takes about five years, and a lot of these projects were started in 2011, so it is too early to know which ones will fail,” said Mr. Chang of Sotheby’s. “But in my mind, I see some red flags and projects that are not in good shape.”

目前,纽约市的EB-5方案还没有发生过一起重大问题,但这仅仅是时间问题而已。“项目完成通常需要五年,很多项目都是从2011年开始的,所以现在预测哪些项目会失败还为时过早,”苏富比的张先生说。“但我目前觉得有些项目很危险,有些项目状态并不好。”

Another criticism of the program is its lack of transparency and oversight. Even the program’s proponents have called for improvements.

另外有人批评这个方案缺乏透明度和远见。甚至方案的支持者们也在呼吁对之进行改进。

“We would like to see enhanced interagency collaboration,” said Peter D. Joseph, the executive director of Invest in the USA. For instance, the group hopes for more cooperation between the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the arm of the Department of Homeland Security, that runs the program, and other government commissions and departments. The trade group also backs enhanced authority for Citizenship and Immigration Services to reject investors, and supports more site visits by regulators to projects.

“我们希望进一步增进跨部门合作,”“投资在美国”的执行主管彼得·D·约瑟夫(Peter D. Joseph)说。举例来说,该公司希望国土安全部下属的美国公民及移民服务局,也就是运行这项方案的机构,能够与其他政府委员会和部门加强合作。商务公司也希望能够加大美国公民及移民服务局驳回投资者的权限,希望项目的监管者能够支持投资者进行更多考察。

“It takes a lot of work to make a transparent market and we are continuing to work to improve this,” Mr. Joseph said.

“建造透明的市场还有很多工作要做,我们会继续努力进行改善,”约瑟夫说。

One aspect that has come under scrutiny is location. Projects are supposed to be in areas of high unemployment, yet are in prosperous neighborhoods like Midtown, Chelsea and TriBeCa. This is because developers are allowed to incorporate contiguous census tracts in their calculations. Pacific Park Brooklyn, for example, is on the border of wealthy brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods, yet relied on high unemployment figures from areas of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant to make its case.

目前地点问题是重点关注的对象。接受该方案投资的项目本来应当建立在失业率高的地方,但目前却主要建立在中城、切尔西和翠贝卡等繁华地带。因为该方案允许开发商把该项目附近的人口情况也包括进去。举例来说,布鲁克林太平园花园位于富裕的布鲁克林上流社会住宅区边界,但它之所以能够被允许得到该方案的投资,主要是由于附近王冠高地和贝德福德-史岱文森的大量失业人口。

Parts of the visa program are up for renewal in September, and Congress is likely to address some concerns; the rapidly snapped-up 10,000-visa allotment may be among them. “It is going to be fixed and they will reshuffle the number of visas to make more available,” said Mona Shah, an immigration lawyer who specializes in the visa program.

今年9月,这项签证方案将作出部分修订,议会将处理其中的部分问题,一万张签证限额的迅速满额问题也在其中。“这个问题会得到解决,它们会同其他签证方案配额进行重组,让人们更方便地得到签证,”专门处理签证问题的律师莫娜·沙(Mona Shah)说。

There is also a good chance that the $500,000 investment threshold will be raised, an effort that Invest in the USA supports, and the practice of using contiguous census tracts may be curtailed. Ending such gerrymandering could have major ramifications in New York, as there are few areas of Manhattan, for example, that have high enough unemployment rates to qualify.

此外这也是抬高50万美元投资的门槛的良机,“投资在美国”支持这一举措,此外也支持限制开发商使用临近地区的人口数据。停止这一不公正的地区划分会对纽约产生重大影响,比如曼哈顿就没有什么地方能够凑到满足该方案所需的足够多的失业人口。

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