After a contentious and in many ways unprecedented election season, one question looms in the minds of many: What next? What will President Trump do and how will his actions shape the future of the EB-5 Program? Much of Donald Trump’s platform relied on tough talk, particularly toward immigration, and as a result, many immigration attorneys have been left wondering what this election means for their clients. What does a Trump presidency mean for those interested in EB-5 investment? What does it mean for those who’ve already made EB-5 investments?
Without any specific comment regarding the EB-5 Program from the president-elect or his transition team, it is impossible to know exactly what a Trump presidency means for EB-5 stakeholders. Many in the EB-5 industry, however, are optimistic that despite any changes to the United States’ immigration policies—changes that would probably result in stricter security screening and greater scrutiny of investor finances—the Trump administration is likely to view the EB-5 Program favorably since much of the Trump campaign focused on creating American jobs and investing in the U.S., two foundational elements of the EB-5 Program.
If his actions as president are in keeping with what he has said on the campaign trail, Donald Trump is likely to support the EB-5 Program since it has a proven track record of job creation and economic stimulation. According to IIUSA, the national trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center Program, from 2010 to 2013, EB-5 investments resulted in the creation of 19,395 jobs in California and 17,161 jobs in New York State. Across the U.S., during that period, foreign investment through the EB-5 Program generated an average of more than 29,000 jobs per year.
Furthermore, the role that the EB-5 Program played in real estate development during the recent recession is not likely lost on President-elect Trump. While traditional financing was harder to come by, the EB-5 Program helped keep projects alive through its alternative source of affordable capital.
In addition to the fact that the EB-5 Program aligns with the president-elect’s stated agenda for his administration, as a businessman, Trump has connections to EB-5. His name and brand have been licensed for use by several EB-5 projects—a Trump-brand golf course in Jupiter, Florida; a luxury hotel and condominium development in Austin, Texas; and the Trump Bay Street in New York City, which is being developed by Trump’s son-in-law’s real estate organization, Kushner Companies. Although the president-elect is not directly partnering with or financing any of these projects, he seems to have no qualms licensing his name to them, which may suggest some level of acceptance toward the use of EB-5 capital.
In general, President-elect Trump has indicated he intends to create a business environment marked by lower taxes that will be favorable for foreign investors. If such an environment is created and the demand for foreign investment rises—and assuming the immigration reform on the Trump agenda is manageable—the EB-5 Program could be poised to flourish in the coming years.