When an investor is well educated about the complexities of the EB-5 programme they are in the best position to make informed decisions concerning their application. They are able to ask the relevant questions and ensure that they align themselves with adequate partners that will assist in the approval of their application. One of the major requirements of the EB-5 programme is having a legitimate source of funds which legitimately belong to the investor. Legitimacy of an investor's path of funds is generally proved by showing annual tax returns, among other documents. However, for regions such as the Middle East with a zero taxation policy, prospective investors would not have these and would have to submit supplementary documentation to prove the legitimacy of the funds.
Majority of EB-5 applications traditionally come from mainland China which means that their applications are submitted along with their annual tax returns, it also means that most EB-5 consultants are more knowledgeable on that region's requirements as it accounts for a large number of EB-5 applications. Therefore, when filing out of the Middle East investors must align themselves with EB-5 experts that have a wealth of experience in preparing submissions out of the Middle East region.
An experienced EB-5 consultant will be able to advise the investor on the documentation required to supplement the application in lieu of submission of tax returns. They will also be able to adjust the application so that the USCIS officer is able to understand and interpret the collated information for the best outcome of the investor.
Business owners from the Middle East have additional complexities with their application due to the structure of the region’s company formation model. Based on whether the company is formed on Dubai Mainland and regulated by Dubai Mainland laws, or in one of the Free zones, the company share structure will vary and this may affect the application. Having an experienced EB-5 specialist will provide the investor with adequate information as to how their application must be prepared and structured for the best understanding of the USCIS officer.
It is imperative that the documents provided to USCIS along with the drafted source of funds declaration is accurate and clearly explains the legitimacy of the investment so much so that the USCIS officer does not need supplementary documentation. When a USCIS officer requires supplementary documentation, they will issue a request for evidence (RFE) notice to the immigration attorney on record. This will essentially mean that there are certain aspects of the investors file that need more evidence to support the application. While an RFE does not mean rejection of an application, it does cause an extra delay in the investor getting an approval on their application.
However, one of the benefits of living in the Middle East is that banks and major corporations supply documents in English. All personal bank statements, salary certificates, or even employment contracts will be originally supplied in English and would not require any translation from the investors' part. This increases credibility for the investor when the USCIS officer is reviewing the application. Additionally, when investors are traveling to the US they can use the US Pre-clearance facility, this allows for the US customs officers to review the traveling documents while still in the UAE. This saves time and hassle of travelling all the way to the US to be turned away by the customs officer.
Once investors have received their US Green Cards they will be subject to US tax laws and will be required to pay income tax on their global income. However, if investors are not yet ready to relocate to the US and still have plans to continue earning in the Middle East or any place abroad they can apply for tax exemptions using form 2555. If eligible, investors can earn up to $200,000 tax free income per annum. This would allow the investor to proceed in working abroad while getting their family ready for the big move to the US.
Overall, it is important that investors choose the right EB-5 specialist and immigration attorney that will immerse themselves in their file and understand the aspects that differentiate their file from the rest. Shai Zamanian from the American Legal Center has been working out of the Middle East for over 10 years and is highly knowledgeable on what is needed to make sure that an application is successful. Our team hosts regular free educational seminars on the EB-5 programme in Dubai.