The US EB-5 Program has quickly become the fastest and easiest immigration route to a US green card and citizenship. Because of its ease, it has also become increasingly popular over the past several years with UAE residents, including those of Indian nationality.

Brief background of the EB-5 Program

The EB-5 Program allows foreign individuals or non-US persons to invest $800,000 in a US EB-5 approved project to obtain a green card for the investor, the investor’s spouse, and any children under the age of 21 at the time the application is submitted. This means that even if the child’s age goes over 21 during the application processing period, they will still be included along with the family for a green card and eventual citizenship.

For those who have children over the age of 21 already, there are other ways to sponsor spouses and unmarried children after the green card is received. Therefore, the opportunities for migration are flexible for full families under the EB-5 Investment Immigration scheme.

Benefits of obtaining a US Green Card

Indian investors have seen the US green card program as a route to a future for their children and for themselves that offers more certainty than other potential migration routes. For those with business and employment prospects in the US, the EB-5 program allows them to gain employment in the US without the restrictions of employer sponsorship which are usually experienced through L1 and H1B visas. However, more importantly are the myriad of benefits that children will be able to take advantage of via an EB-5 application for a US green card.

The US is home to some of the most well reputed educational institutions in the world including the likes of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Berkley, MIT and more. Through obtaining a US green card, students can avail educational benefits including less competition for coveted acceptance positions in top universities, more employment prospects both during studies and after graduation, and resident tuition rates which are almost one third as compared to international tuition rates in public universities. They will also have access to grants and scholarships which are not available to international students and are only open to US residents and citizens.

Outside of financial benefits, it is important to note that US employers prefer US permanent residents (green card holders) and citizens when offering jobs as there are no government checks and sponsorships required for US persons. In addition, the government has encouraged employers to provide jobs to the US population. As a result, even H1B and L1 processes have become increasingly difficult with the H1B application process becoming a lottery system, and the L1 process coming under great scrutiny. Therefore, whether a child is applying for an internship during studies or for a job post-graduation, having a US green card has become more and more important.

“Many of our clients are families whose children have completed their degree in the US and now would like to stay in the US but are unable to find employment due to being an international person without a valid US work visa,” explains Preeya Malik, US licensed lawyer and Managing Director of a leading EB-5 consulting firm in the GCC and India, Step Global.

Early access to the US

In addition to these high points, those who apply for a green card through the EB-5 Program can now obtain early access to the US through a new process called Adjustment of Status (AOS) concurrent filing. Through this process, applicants who have a valid visa to the US can now submit an application simultaneously with their EB-5 application, which provides them with employment authorization and a travel document called Advance Parole. This allows the applicant to live and work legally in the US during the length of time that the EB-5 application for green card approval is pending. This option has been particularly popular with those already in the US like those on H1B visas, or students who have an F1 visa.

“We encourage applicants who are interested in early access to the US to speak with us in order to strategize for eligibility for the AOS concurrent filing, and how we can obtain the fastest route to the US for the applicant,” Malik states.

How to avoid the EB-5 Backlog

As Indian nationals in the UAE rush to take advantage of this program to secure their futures, the October and November US visa bulletins are evidence of this showing backlogs for those born in India. These backlogs are referred to as “retrogression.” It is important to note that this backlog only applies to those applicants born inside India rather than those who simply hold an Indian passport.

However, even in the midst of a recent backlog, there are several strategies Indian born nationals can use to avoid retrogression.

First, Indian born nationals can access the US quickly through the AOS process explained above, but there are also other important options to note which could assist Indian born nationals overcome a backlog and experience faster processing times.

“Many of our clients in the UAE will choose to put the application in their child’s name as many children here were born within the UAE, and the backlog only applies to those born in India. This also allows a child with an immediate need for the green card to obtain it,” Malik explains as a top strategy.

For those who wish to include the whole family in the application, there are further strategies. Reserved visa categories including rural, targeted employment areas, and infrastructure, have just been recently released. Since these categories are new (only accepting applicants as of September of this year 2022), until date there are fewer applicants in these new as compared to the unreserved category.

The unreserved category has the longest line for applicants as it includes all applications which were made prior to March 2022 when the EB-5 Program was reauthorized with numerous changes including introduction of new categories. The reserved categories will individually be processed in separate lines than the unreserved category which indicates that the processing times may be faster. Through investment in one of these newly reserved categories, Indian born nationals can avoid the backlog currently present in the unreserved category.

This is exciting news for any nationalities who are currently experiencing a backlog including Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese. However, these options are also open to all other nationalities and Step Global is currently placing clients from all over the world in these reserved categories.

Why apply through a leading GCC EB-5 firm

Step Global has over 12 years of experience in investment immigration, and specifically the EB-5 Program. Our team consists of US lawyers on the ground in our Dubai headquarters as well as some of the most well reputed and experienced EB-5 lawyers in the industry, contributing to our 100 per cent track record of approvals across all applications.

“The importance of working with an experienced firm is paramount. The EB-5 process can stretch many years and it is important to have professionals in your corner who can troubleshoot to provide the best outcome on your application. It is also important to work with a team who is current on EB-5 industry news,” explains Malik, who is also part of the leading US membership based not for profit industry trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center Program.

As a result, Step Global can always provide the best strategies for clients utilizing the most current and up to date industry news. Through the Step Global network, EB-5 applicants will also have access to the best projects and Regional Centers in the US with long histories of success and repayment to investors.

Should you wish to learn more about faster approval times on your EB-5 application, please contact Step Global to explore various opportunities in all the reserved project categories currently available. Our US lawyers will offer free consultations and multiple small group informational sessions on Tuesday, November 22 and Wednesday, November 23 in their Dubai offices. Feel free to contact us to register your interest. ●