Good Morning, Vietnam: Country is becoming a large EB-5 participant

This article originally appeared in The Real Deal on March 5, 2019.

Vietnam is boosting its presence in the EB-5 program, now trailing only China and India as the most active participant.

About 20 percent of EB-5 investment in American real estate now comes from Vietnam, putting it behind just India’s 25 percent and China’s 30 percent, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing statistics from the U.S. Immigration Fund. Vietnamese nationals received 693 EB-5 visas last fiscal year, an increase from 471 in 2017. The country made up barely 1 percent of all EB-5 visas four years ago.

Developers advertising their projects to Vietnamese investors include Related Companies, which is looking for $380 million for the third phase of its Hudson Yards development, and Extell Development, which is seeking investors for its Times Square Hard Rock Hotel project.

Vietnam’s increased interest in EB-5 comes as China has been pulling back from it. The country dominated the program for years but has become less interested as the wait time for a visa ballooned from months to years.

However, despite Vietnam’s growing interest in EB-5, overall investment volume has still dropped significantly, and the country’s estimated wait time of more than seven years for a visa could eventually become a problem.

For now, though, Vietnam is proving to be a solid player in the EB-5 market.

“In the past, any large-scale capital raise, anything over $50 million or $100 million, particularly in New York, you had to go to China,” immigration attorney Phuong Lee told the Journal, adding that “most of the big New York real estate developers who were in China before are certainly all in Vietnam now.” [WSJ] – Eddie Small

Matthew Callahan