Well-to-do immigrants seeking to come to America might soon be investing in California companies in return for a green card, thanks to a potential new Hesperia business.


Linda Chen-Liu of American Franchise Regional Center spoke to the Hesperia City Council on Tuesday, seeking the council's blessing for their venture.


Under the EB-5 visa program for immigrant investors, foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 into American businesses and create at least 10 jobs can get a green card in return. The program was created by the Immigration Act of 1990, which was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush.


AFRC would work as a clearing-house for putting investors together with businesses across Southern California.


"They want to establish the center so that they're the authority on seeking these investors," said Georgia Graham, a management analyst with the city of Hesperia. "They take this money and deal with investors. ... They're kind of a one-stop shop."


The investments would have to go to a new business or a struggling one, under the watchful eyes of the US Customs and Immigration Services.


"They have filed an application with the USCIS ... It's very involved and it takes six to nine months to get approved, and I understand that they applied in November," said Graham.


If this all sounds familiar, it's because a similar EB-5 program run by the city of Victorville was shut down by the federal government earlier this year.


"Victorville wasn't a regional center," said Graham. "They hired a person that would be the investor recruiter [on behalf of the city]."


In contrast, AFRC would be a private business unaffiliated with the city of Hesperia. The company representatives were merely seeking the support of the city council, which was given.


"They took it on themselves, they were too involved," said Graham. "We are just merely giving them approval to do whatever they will. We are not involved."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.