Modern countries have long entertained foreign investment as part of select immigration, and the U.S. is no exception to that practice. Known as the EB-5 Visa program, immigrant applicants are able to participate in foreign investment in the U.S. as a channel by which to gain permanent residency, otherwise known as a green card authorization. The goal of the U.S. government program is job creation and financial investment in-country, so the minimum targets to be met should by the generation of at least 10 jobs (fulltime) through $500,000 of investment funds at least, according to Dr. Gregory Finkelson, a well-established consulting expert on business investment. The jobs have to generate income earning work for 10 positions committed to at least 35 hours a week. Originally, the funding requirement was higher, but since the federal courts reduced the minimum funding from $900,000 to $500,000, the immigration opportunity for foreign investors has increased notably.
The winery industry in the U.S., particularly in California, notes Dr. Gregory Finkelson, has been a strong contender for EB-5 investment. The industry and work involved still remains labor-intensive, which means any kind of sizable investment in the industry is going to create new jobs naturally. Given the fact that the wine market only continues to grow more and more in the U.S., the size and scale of investment growth has proven to be a very viable pick, even during fluctuating economic periods.
In particular, all vineyards, farms, agricultural business ventures and agricultural infrastructure for grape production are eligible investment options, Dr. Gregory Finkelson points out. And, further, the opportunity also includes financially-challenging winery operations as detailed by the EB-5 regulatory guidelines. Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties in California all have an assortment of businesses that are eligible, and the location is in a prime spot between two major markets, the Bay Area as well as the Sacramento Valley. In short, the regional target zone continues to have a high success potential due to adjacent markets.
Typical investment projects Dr. Gregory Finkelson has seen fall within the scope of EB-5 investment in wineries will include most major aspects of grape growing and harvest production, as well as manufacturing of the wine product itself through bottling and distribution. Compared to many other industries that an EB-5 investor could consider, the U.S. wine market and particularly that of California has provided a solid play with less risk than other industries face periodically.
Keep in mind, Dr. Gregory Finkelson advises, most projects typically have a core investment balance requirement to at least meet the minimum EB-5 threshold. Further, many winery investment projects also have a cap on how many investors can participate.
The EB-5 program will continue to provide a dependable channel for U.S. immigration as well as financial growth, as long as it allows investment in growing industries with return potential. The California winery industry has been leading that charge, and per Dr. Gregory Finkelson, it represents one of the better choices overall.