Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Immigration Reform May Help Sales

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Immigration Reform May Help Sales

Article excerpt

Provisions in proposed law would allow foreign buyers visas and longer stays if they acquire U.S. real estate

A LITTLE-KNOWN COMPONENT of a U.S. immigration reform bill snaking its way through Congress could bolster foreign retirees' ability to purchase Florida homes.

Under the proposed federal reform, the stays in the U.S. of Canadian visitors and real estate buyers could be extended.

It also would grant temporary visas to foreigners from any country who pay cash for luxury real estate in the U.S.

Both provisions of the "Jobs Originating through Launching Travel Act" could further stimulate a housing recovery in Southwest Florida that's climbing to its healthiest level since the painful crash six years ago, said J. Christopher Jaensch, managing partner of the Jaensch Immigration Law Firm in Sarasota.

The measures are significant, too, because they deal with two active dynamics of the region's residential real estate market. Canadian buyers, in particular, have been among the biggest purchasers of Southwest Florida, and cash transactions now account for two-thirds of all deals regionally.

Still in its early stages, the bipartisan bill was proposed by eight U.S. senators -- including Florida's Marco Rubio -- to revamp a slew of immigration issues, especially relating to enforcement.

But several layers of the 844-page bill also deal with economic development -- from home sales to foreign buyers to visas for start- up entrepreneurs.

"There's so much talk about enforcement, we want to highlight some of the other points of the bill," Jaensch said.

"Some of these proposals create a direct economic benefit for our area."

The bill would allow foreigners who purchase $500,000 or more worth of property, maintain ownership, reside in the U.S. for more than six months a year and who are at least 55 years old to apply for a visa that would permit them to stay in the U.S. year-round.

Currently, foreign home buyers who have not obtained U.S. citizenship can only stay here for six months in any given calendar year.

Under the new proposal, foreign real estate buyers could apply to renew their temporary visa every three years.

The bill also would allow Canadian retirees to visit the U. …

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