Like many, Mr Kadaru, a Chennai native, left India in 1992 for Dubai to pursue career prospects. After several years of building a distribution network for marketing Indian music across the Middle East, he established a distribution company to bring Asian-Indian entertainment products to North America. With that success, Mr Kadaru started to seek opportunities to obtain permanent residency in the United States so that he could continue to run his small business and bring more stability to his business and family life, especially for his children.
“When you do business in the US and you are not permanent, it is always at the back of your mind – none of the decisions you make are permanent because you are not a permanent resident here,” Mr Kadaru explains. He invested his money into an EB-5 project through CanAm Enterprises, a leading EB-5 regional center operator with a proven track record. The Kadaru family has since obtained permanent green cards as well as full principal repayment. In 2020, they were granted US citizenship and in January, were sworn in. Both children received advanced degrees from elite American universities and have been pursuing their careers of choice. And Mr Kadaru’s business has been flourishing, distributing Indian movies across North American theatres every year.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5) is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), providing qualified foreign investors with the opportunity to earn a conditional green card in return for investing $900,000 in projects located in high unemployment areas that create at least ten permanent full-time jobs for US workers.
For many residents and expatriates in the Middle East, the EB-5 Visa is one of the easiest options to obtain US green cards for their entire family. Compared to other popular immigrant investment programs, the US EB-5 Visa provides more flexibility:
• EB-5 Visa does not require an offer of employment or family sponsorship.
• Spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can be included in one petition.
• There are no educational, business background, or language requirements for EB-5 investors or their qualifying dependents.
• Adult child can self-petition for an EB-5 Visa with funds given by his/her parents.
EB-5 investors and their qualifying dependents who become green card holders may enjoy the same benefits as US lawful permanent residents:
• Eligible to receive free public education from kindergarten to high school.
• Eligible to pay lower college tuition fees than international students.
• Eligible to receive federal loans for education, which charge much lower interest rates than loans from private banks, but are not available to foreign students.
• Eligible to receive social security benefits upon retiring.
• Eligible to sponsor other relatives for permanent residence (upon obtaining US citizenship).
• May visit Canada and Mexico without a visa or consular stamp.
• Better employment and business opportunities without employer sponsorships
• Unlike employees with temporary work visas (such as H-1B), EB-5 investors can own and operate their own start-ups and manage employees.
More importantly, as the US government continues to clamp down on work visas and even temporarily suspending immigration categories earlier this year, the EB-5 Program remained open and continues to see increasing demand. A total of 10,000 visas are up for grabs every year with no country allowed more than seven per cent of all visas, or 700 slots, in the first instance. For the fourth quarter of 2019, 4,264 investors applied for an EB-5 Visa, more than the whole fiscal year 2019 (USCIS Fiscal Year is October to September).
We’ve seen applications from the Middle East pick up dramatically since last year and it’s set to grow exponentially.
“We’ve seen applications from the Middle East pick up dramatically since last year and it’s set to grow exponentially,” said Jeff DeCicco, CEO of CanAm Investor Services, a US-registered broker-dealer and investment facilitation firm. In fiscal year 2019 along, more than 150 families from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria have been issued EB-5 Visa. It is estimated that a significant increase of applicants from the Middle East will apply for the EB-5 Visa in 2020.
“Once you check the box ‘permanent resident’, things started to move forward,” Mr Kadaru added.
Like any other investment tool, an EB-5 Visa investment is subject to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Interested investors should consult with licensed financial and immigration consultants.