Step Global Feb 15 2023 for web
Step Global holds exclusive EB-5 Seminars across the GCC

The grand old investment immigration scheme of the United States known as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has been in existence now for over three decades. It is a direct route to permanent residency (Green Card) in the US. The program was enacted in 1990 by the US Congress and is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The program has undergone a series of adaptive changes during these foundation years, sometimes for the benefit of the government and sometimes for the general sake of investors. However, the cardinal rule is the same since the inception of the program and that is attracting foreign investments in the US economy for the purpose of infrastructure or business development and generation of mass employment for the people of the US.

This program is immensely popular amongst people from this region due to the wide array of benefits it offers to the primary applicant and their immediate family members. The individuals obtaining a green card under this program are entitled to numerous benefits like the ability to live, work, study, or retire in the US. Unlike most of the Golden Visa programs of other countries which offer temporary residency, the US EB-5 program offers direct permanent residency to the investor, the investor’s spouse, and any children under the age of 21, which can eventually lead to US passports after 5 years.

In order to apply under this program, the applicant must invest a refundable amount of $800,000 USD in one of the approved EB-5 projects spanning across the United States.

US Green Card for students

With the US having the largest number of top universities in the world, it is undoubtedly one of the most preferred destinations for students from across the world to pursue their studies. In that case, becoming a US green card holder is something that could be of interest — not just because it will allow these students to live permanently in the United States after graduation, but also because it provides real, tangible benefits not available to international students.

As a result, in recent years there is a growing trend where individuals are applying for a green card through the EB-5 Program specifically with the goal to secure the future of their children who may be already in school in the US or are preparing to attend school in the US. Many times, parents make their child the primary applicant so that the child can avail all the benefits of a green card in case the rest of the family members are not thinking to obtain a green card. In this sense, it is better to be proactive rather than reactionary, recognizing that children who attend University in the US may want to stay in the US post-graduation and such students shall have a real plan to achieve this goal.

F-1 and H1-B limitations

Most international students apply for an F-1 visa which allows entry as a full-time student at an accredited US university. By holding an F-1 visa, students are allowed to travel visa-free to the US while pursuing their studies, and after completing their academic programs, they will enjoy the prestige and pride of being a graduate or trainee of an American university.

However, students on this visa face certain employment limitations. International students on F-1 visas are not allowed to work off-campus and are limited to working part-time. They may accept on-campus employment but even these jobs are subject to certain conditions and restrictions. As a result, international students often miss out on valuable practical experiences with top US companies that their US peers can take advantage of.

It is also difficult during summers when the majority of other US students are able to secure paid internships. This is especially important in educational streams like law, medicine, finance, and engineering. F-1 students may not get the same opportunities and therefore may fall behind their peers in terms of CV building during their study years.

After graduation, it is observed that most children desire to live and work permanently in the US. This is especially true for those who are able to secure a good job opportunity with a leading US company. Post-graduation, international students have the opportunity to attain the OPT (Optional Practical Training) Status but this is also attached to a condition.

The student must secure a job position within 60 days after graduating or otherwise must leave the country. In addition, the OPT grants only temporary residency status of one to three years for STEM programs. After this, a change of visa is necessary should the graduate wish to continue living and working in the US. In most cases, the child will need to apply for an H-1B visa – which is the employment category visa in the US.

As more and more foreign individuals have migrated via the H1-B visa over the years, this category has become oversaturated, thus leading to backlogs. Due to this, the employment visas are allotted on the basis of a lottery draw in a given year and hence, the allotment is not guaranteed to everyone. This means that even those who have a job offer under their belt or work experience during their OPT status, are not guaranteed a visa to continue their career in the US. This leads to utter disappointment and frustration for many who are not selected and are compelled to leave the US after several years of study and work.

For those who are lucky enough to be drawn for an H1-B visa in a lottery, the wait times to obtain a green card can be up to 10 years or more. Until that time, an H1-B visa holder is tied to their employer sponsor. For an individual who does not have a concrete job offer, the first obstacle to overcome is to find a willing sponsor and this is often stressful and uncertain.

Moreover, US employers are required to show why hiring a foreign person over a US person is necessary. In addition, they must complete tedious sponsorship paperwork when hiring a foreign national. Therefore, due to this daunting process, US employers often prefer to hire those who can already legally work in the United States.

Although the EB-5 Program requires a large sum of investment, for those who can afford, it is a more secure and certain way for acquiring permanent resident status for staying and working in the US, thereby allowing them to enjoy all the benefits and compete at a fair level with other US individuals for coveted positions in the fields of education and employment.

Green Card benefits

With a green card, the student is considered domestic, and therefore is not restricted by international admission quotas in competitive US programs and schools. In other terms, holding a green card considerably increases the child’s chances of acceptance into coveted programs as compared to international students on an F-1 Student Visa.

A domestic student will also be eligible for 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 USD or more on tuition rates. This benefit is more lucrative and helpful for families with more than one child who may want to go to the US for post-secondary education or for multiple degrees. On top of that, the child can avail a vast array of scholarships and government grants.

The child also has higher chances to be hired in the US after graduation as described above without being tied to an employer.

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. While the applicant is studying in the United States, he/she can apply for permanent resident status through Adjustment of Status (AOS). This means that those already in the US on any legal visa status such as F-1 or H1-B visas can apply to adjust their status from within the US while waiting for their EB-5 application to be processed without having to return to their home country to complete visa processing.

Before March 2022, an EB-5 applicant would have to wait for their initial EB-5 application approval before being able to legally access benefits and live in the United States.

Along with the AOS submission, the applicant can request an Employment Authorization Card and Travel Document (Advance Parole). 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 be processed. Although this 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 United States immediately.

Plan ahead

Many parents realize 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 will be very helpful in achieving long-term career and settlement objectives. “Often times clients reach out to us because they are looking for a permanent solution for their children to stay in the US. Unfortunately, many of them got to know about the EB-5 visa too late, when they’ve already missed out on all the benefits they could have taken advantage of while their children were studying.

Since the EB-5 process takes time to process it is necessary to plan ahead for the future of the children through this route which remains the fastest and safest option for a green card. This is the reason why with my team, we strive to raise awareness about this program so families are equipped with as much knowledge as possible to take the right decision for the future of the family,” states Preeya Malik, US Licensed Lawyer and Managing Director of Step Global.

Attend a Step Global seminar

Come meet the Step Global licensed lawyers for an exclusive seminar on Sunday, February 19, 2023, at 4 PM (Dubai) at JW Marriott Hotel, Business Bay, Dubai, UAE to get more information on the US EB-5 Program. The seminar will be hosted by Step Global in association with one of the leading Regional Centers in the EB-5 industry which has a robust track record of green card approvals and repayment. During this session, our immigration lawyers will take attendees through the entire 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.

About Step Global

Step Global is a leading immigration firm in the UAE and the MENA region, headed by Managing Director Preeya Malik, who herself is an award-winning US immigration lawyer and renowned expert in the EB-5 program. Preeya 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 its legal team have helped hundreds 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 level of services to their clients while following top industry standards. They offer exclusive residential, hospitality, energy, rural, and infrastructure projects by partnering with the EB-5 industry’s best Regional Centers which also have a strong track record of green card approvals and full repayment of funds to their past investors over a series of years.