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EB-5 Investors Face Deportation If New York Wheel Project Remains Stuck

EB-5 Investors Face Deportation If New York Wheel Project Remains Stuck
A rendering of New York Wheel and its view of the Manhattan skyline

The New York Wheel, the contentious project aiming to build one of the world's tallest Ferris wheels on the northern coast of Staten Island, could sweep its EB-5 foreign investors into the undertow of its misfortunes.

The Wheel, when completed, is projected to cost about $600M, $206M of which will be paid for through the EB-5 foreign investor program, which allows foreigners to invest $500K or more into job-creating projects in exchange for visas to emigrate to the U.S. If the investors' funds do not create the jobs as promised, their green cards would be revoked and they would be forced to leave the country. New York Wheel's investors, thanks to the project's delays, could soon find themselves in that situation, The Real Deal reports. The EB-5 Regional Center that coordinated the investment, Canam Enterprises, says the project should create 5,844 jobs.

"If their jobs are not created, that’s the end of the story,” Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell attorney Jim Butler, who specializes in EB-5 issues, told TRD. "Right now, the simple answer is they're screwed."  

The Wheel has been a source of funding consternation since it was announced by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but last month, the project's designer and contractor walked off the site after a dispute with the developer (also named New York Wheel) and the site has been dormant since. 

The project, which was projected to generate millions in tourism revenue and be a major draw for Staten Island, has been dormant since the dispute. It remains to be seen whether its EB-5 investors will sue, leave the country or pull their money and try to invest it elsewhere before their temporary visas expire.