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EB-5 Regional Center Program Gets Temporary Extension

Posted: September 29th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas | No Comments »

On 09/27/08, the Senate passed, by a 72-12 vote, the fiscal 2009 continuing resolution (H.R. 2638) which would extend funding for all government operations through March 6, 2009.

The bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives on 09/24/08, includes an extension of the basic pilot/E-verify program (section 143) and an extension of the EB-5 regional center pilot program (section 144). Both extensions would only last through the term of the continuing resolution.

The measure now heads to the President for signature. It does not take effect until signed.

EB-5 Regional Center Program Gets Temporary Extension

Posted: September 29th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas | No Comments »

On 09/27/08, the Senate passed, by a 72-12 vote, the fiscal 2009 continuing resolution (H.R. 2638) which would extend funding for all government operations through March 6, 2009.

The bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives on 09/24/08, includes an extension of the basic pilot/E-verify program (section 143) and an extension of the EB-5 regional center pilot program (section 144). Both extensions would only last through the term of the continuing resolution.

The measure now heads to the President for signature.  It does not take effect until signed.

The WEST Program– A New Visa Opportunity for Young Koreans

Posted: September 24th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: National News | No Comments »

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan of the Republic of Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the WEST (Work, English Study, Travel) Program and expansion of other reciprocal exchange opportunities on September 22 in New York.

During their most recent summit in August 2008, President George W. Bush and President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea discussed plans to create new bilateral opportunities for young Americans and Koreans to learn about each other’s country by working, studying, and traveling abroad. The WEST Memorandum of Understanding is the result.

The WEST program is an innovative exchange program that will allow up to 5,000 qualifying university students and recent university graduates from the Republic of Korea to enter the United States for a period of 18 months on J-1 exchange visitor visas that will allow them to study English, participate in internships, and travel independently. Participants will devote at least 450 classroom hours to structured English language training and coursework focusing on American business practices and business procedures, U.S. corporate culture, and general office management issues. The program will be coordinated by the private sector under the auspices of the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. This program will be launched in 2009.

Local Speech Pathologist Helps Foreign Clients Improve Accents

Posted: September 17th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Sarasota Immigrants | No Comments »

I was recently in contact with Marcia Hoodwin, M.A., who is a Certified Speech-Language Pathologist and Corporate Speech Trainer based in Sarasota. She told me about a service that she provides to help foreign-born clients with their accents. I asked her to provide me with more information, and what she sent me is quite amusing. Take a look for yourself:

Throughout my career, I have worked with many foreign-born individuals, from all walks of life. Most of them have been hardworking, good at their careers, and ambitious. However, they were having trouble communicating effectively. This would affect their relationships with coworkers, customers, and supervisors. It would keep them from getting a job or being promoted, and would affect their self-confidence.

In general, I feel that a person having a foreign accent is a good trait. It means that the individual is at least bilingual. But if the accent is interfering with the ability to be understood, then this will create a lot of problems for the person. For example, one doctor I worked with was always afraid to ask his patient to put a sheet over him or her, because he was afraid that it would come out, like the not so nice word, “sh_t”. Or maybe you just want to ask your friend to go to the beach and it comes out like the bad word “b_tch”. One of my clients would say the word “fool” instead of “full”. You wouldn’t want to say, “You are fool”.

Most of an accent consists of pronunciation and intonation (stress) differences. For example, most languages do not have the “th” sound, so many foreign-born individuals will substitute a sound from their native language instead. They may say “tin” for “thin”. Or they may put the stress on the wrong syllable. I know from experience that this can make you unintelligible. When I was trying to speak, the little Spanish I know, in Spain, even when I was sure that my pronunciation was exact, they could not understand me. Once, I was told to just speak English.

For more information, on this topic, please call Marcia at 941-921-9533 or email her She also has a website at

Sarasota Realtors Lead the Community in International Business Marketing

Posted: September 15th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas, Sarasota Immigrants | No Comments »

Congratulations to Carla Rayman and Patricia Tan, both from Prudential Palms Realty, as well as Catherine McCaskill, from Sarasota Association of Realtors. These women were the driving force behind the just-finished Sarasota International Real Estate Congress 2008.

The congress was a three day event at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota featuring a certification program for realtors on the first day and two additional days of panel presentations covering topics such as trends in international real estate, meeting the needs of foreign investors on the Florida Gulf Coast, and planning international real estate transactions (including immigration and tax considerations).

Over 130 people attended the congress. It was a real pleasure to see so many supporters of new immigration legislation in one room! There seems to be a lot of pent up demand among realtors and their international customers for “retirement visa” or some other legal way for foreign vacation homeowners to spend more than six months at a time in Florida.

The Sarasota International Real Estate Congress is not the only way that Sarasota realtors are marketing the area to foreign investors. In fact, they are doing more to promote Sarasota internationally than any other group or industry by far.

I recently met with Carla Rayman, who serves as Director of International Business Development for Prudential Palms Realty, and she told me about all of the trips she has taken in the past few years to market the Sarasota area. She has traveled to the U.K. twice in the past 12 months and has a third trip planned soon. She went to Spain for three years in a row to attend SIMA, the Largest International 2nd Homes Expo in the World. She also has planned or is considering trips to Germany, Dubai, and Costa Rica.

Carla is also very involved in promoting international business at the regional level. She is member and/or director in the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce International Business Council, Tampa Bay World Affairs Council, and Southeastern Chapter of the Panama Business Council—just to name a few.

Other realtors have also been very active in marketing our community to prospective foreign investors. For example, Patricia Tan recently attended real estate shows in Singapore and Malaysia and met with prospective investors in China.

Most of the major real estate companies in Sarasota have realtors who have gone abroad to promote Sarasota. Michael Saunders recently made a presentation to real estate investors in Madrid, Spain, to explain why Florida real estate is a great investment opportunity for Spanish buyers.

Not including trips abroad, there are many other things that local real estate companies and individuals realtors are doing to attract foreign buyers. For example, a number of companies have established international affiliations to show Sarasota listings to buyers outside the U.S. Also, several companies and individual realtors have multilingual websites. Bill Geller, of Suncoast International Realty, has a blog that often focuses on international issues (the blog recently reported the results of a survey on international real estate purchases in the U.S. conducted by the National Association of Realtors).

There are so many businesses and organizations in the Sarasota area that benefit from international visitors. It is high time to give credit and thanks to Sarasota’s realtors who are leading the community in international marketing efforts.

Mark Wellington–An Extraordinary Athletic Performance Trainer

Posted: September 11th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Athlete & Artist Visas, Sarasota Immigrants | No Comments »

Mark Wellington is a Tennis Performance Specialist, which is a subspecialty in the field of athletic performance training.  Due to his extraordinary abilities in his field, Mark has qualified to live in the U.S. on a permanent basis.

Mark first came to the U.S. from the U.K. when he was recruited by Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida.  He was awarded a full tennis scholarship and was named an ITA Scholar Athlete All-American in 1998.

In his final year at Bethune-Cookman College, Mark served as Assistant Women’s Tennis Coach and was responsible for coaching and conditioning the women’s team.  Due to his efforts, the woman’s tennis team earned the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title and competed in the NCAA championship tournament in 2000.  The team also ended its season ranked #71—the first team in school history to finish with a national NCAA ranking.

Mr. Wellington’s success as a tennis coach and his strong interest in physical conditioning, led him to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in Health and Exercise Science in 2002.

While earning his Master’s degree at Furman University, Mr. Wellington served as Assistant Women’s Tennis Coach from 2000 to 2002.  As with his previous position, Mr. Wellington directed coaching and conditioning and achieved noteworthy success.  Each year, his teams earned Southern Conference (SC) titles and competed in the NCAA championship tournament.  The 2002 team also made it to the second round of the tournament, its best performance ever.

Mark is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and has achieved certification as a “Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist” (CSCS).  To be eligible for CSCS certification, a candidate must pass a rigorous exam, must possess at least a Bachelor’s degree, and must demonstrate the ability to design and implement safe and effective strength and conditioning programs.

In 2003, Mark Wellington joined the staff of the prestigious International Performance Institute at the world-renowned Bollettieri Tennis Academy/IMG Academies training facility in Bradenton, Florida.  At IPI, Mark worked extensively with a number of professional tennis athletes and elite-level junior athletes, including Maria Sharapova, Xavier Malisse, Max Mirnyi, Tatiana Golovin and Daniela Hantuchova.

In 2004 Mark toured the world with Maria Sharapova and played a key role in elevating her world ranking from #35 to #3.  While working with Mark, Maria remained injury free and won Wimbledon as well as the WTA Championship.

Mark left IPI/IMG in 2005 and has been working for himself since then with his athlete clients.  He often still uses the IMG facility in Bradenton and also travels with his clients to tournaments around the world.

In the past year, Mark has been working exclusively with Martin Verkerk, a Dutch tennis player who reached the French Open finals in 2003.  Martin is a former top 20 player who did not play in 2005 and 2006 due to injury.  He decided to make a comeback at the age of 29 and is relying on Mark Wellington to return him to form and help him prevent injury.

Mark has not disappointed.  With Mark’s help, Martin has improved his ranking from #670 to #260 and plans to reach the top 100 by February 2009.

Over the years, Mark has worked with athletes from virtually every major sport, but tennis remains his main focus area.  When asked about his top piece of fitness advice for tennis athletes, Mark replied that it depends on whether the athlete is at the elite level or a casual player.

For elite athletes, Mark says that the most important factor in physical training and avoiding injury is scheduling.  He says that many athletes play too much, which is a big mistake.  He points out that Pete Sampras was never ranked #1 as a junior and many #1 ranked junior players never have a professional career, because their bodies do not hold up.

For the casual player, Mark advocates “prehab” training, which involves warming up and focusing on flexibility in areas that take the most wear and tear (shoulders, knees, ankles and lower back).  Mark recommends dynamic warm ups and movement around the court and stretching to get the body ready to play.  He says that the effects may not be noticeable in the short run, but month to month it will make a big difference in the athlete’s ability to play.

Over the next few months, Mark will continue to work with Martin Verkerk out of his home base in Bradenton, Florida.  He may eventually relocate, depending on the demand for his services among top athletes.

Mark Wellington is a key individual helping to make the Sarasota-Bradenton area a major center for sports training.  He is one more reason to be proud of our international community.

Business Opportunity: and Metroya–Buy Your Own Territory

Posted: September 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas | No Comments »

Anyone who has spent time in Sarasota is probably familiar with

This is a lifestyle website & magazine for travelers and locals with information about restaurants in and around Sarasota, FL.  It has news, events, photo & video galleries, coupons and much more.

The owner of is looking to sell new territories for the site and for its sister site,  He is looking for individuals seeking to establish businesses outside the Sarasota area, preferably someone who knows adobe indesign and photoshop for publishing.

The price for a territory is a $50,000 set up fee and $10,000 per year for licensing.

For more information contact Guenther Edelsbacher at 941-925-4921.