For people pursuing the “American Dream”, as they become aware of the EB-5 visa, it has become a preferred choice to establish permanent residency in the United States. In particular, there has been a rush of demand from India this year. India, the third highest filer until last year, has now surpassed Vietnam and with more than 830 applications (January to September), has become the second highest filer. It is estimated that more than 1,100 families from India will be applying for EB-5 by the end of 2018. Even as many more Indians have become knowledgeable about the program, there are still some myths around the EB-5 visa that persist, so let’s address them.
MYTH #1: Many ill-informed people believe that through the EB-5 program, one can ‘buy a green card’.
This is a popular myth. EB-5 is an investment-linked visa where the applicant must invest $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise with the requirement that the investment creates at least ten new jobs for U.S. workers. Only after the job creation requirement is met, can the conditions be removed, and investors get permanent residency in the United States. They are then eligible to have their investment repaid.
MYTH #2: Detractors of the program have said is that the EB-5 program can easily be used by terrorists and criminals to enter the United States.
In reality, EB-5 applicants are perhaps the most screened visa recipients who enter the U.S. Not only do the source of the investor’s funds have to be proven to be legally earned, the path of the transfer of the funds to the U.S. must also be clearly documented. Investors must prove that every dollar used toward their investment was obtained and transferred to the US lawfully. This documentation can often include hundreds of pages of bank statements, tax returns, property deeds, and other important records. Then, in addition to criminal and medical screenings, applicants need to attend two in-person interviews to complete the process.
MYTH #3: The EB-5 visa is a fraud, don’t expect to get your money back!
This is definitely a myth. It is the job of a good regional center to make sure that the EB-5 investment is managed properly, and that immigration and investment goals are successfully achieved. In this regard, a regional center’s track record is extremely important. The EB-5 Program can be quite complex, and a regional center that has existed for many years will simply have more experience handling issues that come up with USCIS and/or projects. I know of several well-run Regional Centers that have repaid multiple projects, including my own firm which has repaid over $1 billion to investors across 37 different projects.
MYTH #4: Money is a propeller for a speedy visa process.
However, the truth is far from it. Every visa category has its own “waiting line” and set number of visas available for every year. For EB-5, there are 10,000 visas available annually. Until 2014, EB-5 did not reach its annual 10,000 visa limit, therefore any petitioner who had an I-526 approved would have a visa available to them and their family. Since 2014 when Mainland China-born petitions reached retrogression because they hit their 7.1% per country cap for visas, Chinese applicants are now experiencing a wait of 10-15 years to obtain their EB-5 visa. Petitioners from any other country do not have this wait, but still must go through the process of applying, awaiting adjudication and consular processing. According to the panel discussion at AILA EB-5 Industry Forum on October 30th, Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, shared his most recent analysis of current trends and future projections. Mr. Oppenheim estimated that India will retrogress in 2019 and the wait time for Indian applicants may be five to six years. The general rule of thumb is to apply early and get in the queue.
About CanAm Enterprises With three decades of experience promoting immigration-linked investments in the United States and Canada, CanAm Enterprises has a long and established track record. Based on a reputation of credibility and trust, CanAm Enterprises has financed 56 project loans and raised more than $2.8 billion in EB-5 investments. CanAm Enterprises exclusively operates several USCIS-designated regional centers that are located in the city of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the county of Los Angeles, the metropolitan region of New York, Hawaii, Florida, and Texas. For more information, please visit www.canamenterprises.com