What is the US EB-5 program?
The US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a US government program that allows applicants to invest a refundable amount of $800,000 in approved EB-5 projects spanning across the US. In exchange, the investor, the investor’s spouse, and any children under the age of 21 may obtain a US green card and permanent residency, which eventually leads to a US passport.
Today, the EB-5 program remains the fastest and easiest immigration route for those looking to obtain a US green card and citizenship when compared to other potential US migration routes.
Green Card vs. H1-B and L-1 Visas
Common employment visa categories like the L-1 and H1-B visas, present challenges for applicants as these require employer sponsorship, while the EB-5 visa does not. US employers are required to show why hiring a foreigner over a US citizen is necessary while filling positions and are also required to complete tedious sponsorship paperwork when hiring a foreign national. Therefore, US employers often prefer to hire those who can already legally work in the US.
Since so many foreign individuals have migrated via the H1-B visa in recent years, this category has become oversaturated, particularly for specific groups like Indian nationals. As a result, the H1-B visa category has become a lottery draw even for those who are able to secure a willing sponsor. For those who are lucky enough to be drawn for an H1-B visa, the wait to obtain a green card can be up to 10 years or more. Until that time, the H1-B holder is tied to their employer sponsor.
Those on L-1 visas are also slowly beginning to experience the same challenges as H1-B holders. L-1 visas themselves, are not a direct route to a green card. Those on an L-1 who want US permanent residency must apply through a separate process, such as the EB1-C. Recently, this category has also shown to be backlogged, creating longer waiting times for the US green card. Since L-1 visas can only be renewed for up to seven years, an L-1 visa holder must find a way to obtain a green card before the expiry of the L-1 if they desire to continue living and working in the US.
The H1-B and L-1 status present another challenge that is often not advised upon. It is important to note that a child can only remain a dependant until the age of 21, after which they must find their own route to migration. If the parent does not gain permanent status before a child turns 21, the child will age out and will no longer be eligible for a status in the US tied to their parents.
Over the past year, there has now been a trend of H1-B and L-1 visa holders applying through the EB-5 Program in order to ensure US permanent residency quickly and efficiently. The green card offers more certainty for the whole family in terms of status, and ensures an individual does not have to tie themselves to any one employer.
Green Card vs. F1 Student Visa
With the US having the largest number of top universities in the world, the benefits unlocked by a green card for children are abundant. Holding a green card considerably increases the chances of acceptance in competitive programs, as domestic students are not restricted by international admissions quotas.
In addition, domestic students can avail resident tuition rates, which at times are one-fourth that of international tuition rates. For one child in a four-year bachelor program, a family may save $130,000 or more on tuition rates. This benefit is especially helpful for families who choose to send multiple children to the US for post-secondary education or for multiple degrees. US green card holders are also eligible for an array of scholarships and government grants, which are unavailable to international students.
Most importantly and often overlooked, those students with a green card will be able to obtain the best employment opportunities to gain experience both during their schooling and post-graduation. F1 visa holders have limited employment allowances on a student visa. As a result, international students often miss out on valuable practical experiences that their US peers can take advantage of. After the child graduates, they may also wish to stay in the US to work. The child will then have to go through the same tedious process outlined above via the H1-B lottery system, resulting in disappointment and frustration for many who are not selected and must leave the US after several years of study.
Although many parents may realise this desperate position after a child graduates. Since the green card takes time to process, the best strategy is to plan ahead so that by the time a child enters university in the US, they can be considered a US person, which enables them to flourish and succeed.
Green Card vs E-2 Investor Visa
The E-2 investor visa allows foreign investors only from specific Treaty Countries, to invest in a business in the US and through this investment, live and work in the business legally in the US. Many individuals from Treaty countries have utilized this visa to access the US due to its shorter processing times. With the influx of citizenship by investment programs in various countries, those who are not from Treaty Countries, like Indian or Chinese nationals, have been investing in third-party countries, which fall under the Treaty (namely Turkey and Grenada) to obtain citizenship and then utilizing the passport to apply for the E-2 investor visa in order to access the US.
In recent changes made to US regulation, the government looks to crack down on this practice. Now, an individual holding a passport from a Treaty Country must actually have been domiciled there for three years before being eligible for the E-2 investor visa. Therefore, it is no longer enough to simply hold a passport. One must move to countries like Turkey and Grenada to show a three-year residency to be able to access the US.
Immediate access to the US
As of March 15, 2022, the US government also introduced the concept of Adjustment of Status (AOS) concurrent filing for EB-5 applicants. This means that those already in the US on any legal visa status can apply to adjust their status from within the US while waiting for their EB-5 application to be processed. Earlier, an EB-5 applicant would have to wait for their application approval before being able to legally access and live in the US.
Along with the AOS submission, the applicant can request an Employment Authorization Card and Travel Document. Within months, the applicant will have the ability to legally live and work in the US without employer sponsorship while they wait for their EB-5 green card application to process and their green card to be obtained. Although a concurrent filing does not allow an applicant to receive the green card faster, any delay in processing timelines will not affect the applicant’s ability to take advantage of living and working in the US immediately.
Those H1-B, L-1, and F-1 visa holders who want quicker access to the US, which allows the freedom of a permanent status, have been submitting an AOS concurrent filing while waiting for their green card to process through their EB-5 Program application.
About Step Global
Step Global is a leading immigration firm in the UAE and the MENA, headed by its Managing Director, Preeya Malik. Herself an award-winning US immigration lawyer, Malik is a renowned expert in the EB-5 program. Malik was one of the first EB-5 experts to enter the region 10 years ago and has greatly contributed over the last decade in bringing attention to the EB-5 program and its benefits across the GCC, Middle East, India, and Africa. Step Global, along with her legal team have helped thousands of applicants and their families to migrate to the US under the EB-5 program with one of the highest track records of approvals in this region.
The seasoned team at Step Global represents and safeguards clients’ interests throughout the entire process. Over the years the firm has built a strong network of world-renowned EB-5 attorneys and experts in order to deliver the highest levels of client service while following top industry standards. They offer exclusive residential, hospitality, energy, and infrastructure projects by partnering with the EB-5 industry’s best Regional Centers, which also has a strong track record of green card approvals and full repayment of funds to their past investors over a series of years.
First steps on the EB-5 journey
Come meet the Step Global licensed lawyers for an exclusive seminar on Sunday, January 15, 2023, at 4pm at JW Marriott Business Bay in Dubai. The seminar will be hosted by Step Global in partnership with one of the leading Regional Centers in the EB-5 industry, which has a 100 per cent track record of green card approvals and repayment.
During this session, our immigration lawyers will take attendees through the process of the US EB-5 Residency & Passport Program and answer all questions.
The Regional Center will discuss their latest projects in the Set Aside and Reserved categories, which already have completed substantial construction and therefore have job creation in place, offering additional security for EB-5 applicants. Click the link to register: https://bit.ly/3WSEFd1