The top originating nations of the EB-5 program are Guam’s neighbors, and this proximity could be an advantage to spur foreign investment on island, according to John Ryan, manager of Guam EB-5.

Ryan spoke last week at a luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club of Guam at the Pacific Star Resort and Spa. Ryan provided an assessment-overview of the opportunities and hurdles facing investors on Guam in the competitive EB-5 global marketplace.

The top EB-5 participating nations include China, South Korea and Vietnam. According to Ryan, Guam’s story has been spread and it resonates among potential investors. 

The EB-5 investor visa, a federal initiative created under the Immigration Act of 1990, allows qualified foreign nationals to obtain lawful permanent resident status through investment in a U.S. enterprise.

Program requirements

According to information posted by the Guam Economic Development Authority, the program requires the applicant to commit a minimum investment of $1 million in any of the 50 United States or U.S. territories including Guam.

While the program can be a venue for selling the Guam brand to potential investors, Ryan said there are safeguards in place against citizenship for sale.

For one, potential investors who are eyeing participation in the program are required to develop a business plan. According to Ryan, the plan should reflect community-based project ideas.

Moreover, the proposed business should also facilitate job creation on island since employment creation is a critical component of the program.

According to information posted on the GEDA website, employment must be created within a two-year time frame and the enterprise should create at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, exclusive of the investor’s spouse and children.

Hundreds of centers

Ryan said there are hundreds of EB-5 centers all over the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services posted that as of July 5, it had approved 847 regional centers.

According to Ryan, these companies designated as regional centers by the U.S. government take on the role of matchmaker, connecting investors with projects seeking funds. These projects include charter schools, hotels, resorts and assisted living facilities.

He said the EB-5 program facilitates financing for development projects but does not provide a total funding solution. However, it provides a service to investors by letting them deal with just the EB-5 center instead of multiple entities.