H-1B Visa to EB-5 Visa: Permanent Residency in the United States

Why are an increasing number of people are looking to the EB-5 Investor Visa after or instead of the H-1B Visa?

Next week our Managing Partner Mark Davies is leading a webinar on the subject of H-1B to EB-5. It will be worth listening in as industry experts will be explaining the relative merits of the two visa categories and how to transition between them. It will be of interest to anyone already in the United States on H-1B and anyone considering an H-1B application in future.

Sign up for the webinar by clicking here.

The future of H-1B

The H-1B visa has been under increasing scrutiny for some years now. The H-1B visa had its heyday during the dotcom boom of the early 2000s – with many tech workers moving to the United States in pursuit of good jobs and a bright future. But since then, the H-1B visa has faced a mounting image problem caused by instances of fraud and the perception that H-1B adversely affects the American workforce.

Both main political parties have overseen some form of restriction on H-1B. This process culminated in President Trump suspending the H-1B visa from June last year. Ostensibly this was because of Covid-19, but Trump never shied away from his declaring his opposition before the pandemic began.

President Biden has promised to target more highly skilled STEM graduates in the same breath as saying there is a need to protect American workers first. It is unclear how he will choose to balance these two often-competing aims – much will depend on the economic recovery from Covid – but a telltale sign came when Biden pointedly did not overturn Trump’s suspension of the H-1B Visa (preferring to let it lapse naturally at the end of March 2021).

The Future of EB-5

The future looks bright for the EB-5 Program if it gets through the June 2021 Regional Center reauthorization process as expected. The program brings in millions of dollars and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs at no cost to the taxpayer. So it comes as no surprise that the EB-5 program garners bipartisan support.

Direct EB-5 – where the investor makes and manages the investment themselves – is not up for reauthorization and will continue regardless of what happens in Congress next month. The majority of investors, usually upwards of 90%, opt to invest under the Regional Center program because of challenges with compliance. Each EB-5 investment needs to create and sustain ten American jobs, which can be tricky for a new business. Unlike direct EB-5 investors, Regional Centers are able to count “indirect jobs” and tend to use the funds for job-hungry projects like hotel builds.

Nevertheless, it is vital to do due diligence on the Regional Center and its project to identify any risks to your Green Card or the return of your capital. With background in both real estate and immigration law, our managing partner Mark Davies is able to assist clients with due diligence on their chosen project.

H-1B Visa India

While H-1B recipients come from all over the world, there is no denying that Indians are the overwhelming beneficiaries. Around three quarters of all H-1B visa holders are from India. It is for this reason that our upcoming webinar is being hosted by TiE Bangalore. TiE Global fosters entrepreneurship around the world and the Bangalore chapter is particularly active in this regard. Nevertheless, the information in the webinar will be relevant to people from all over the world.

H-1B Visa and EB-5 Visa Calendars

The H-1B visa lottery opens to applicants in April each year and places fill up very fast. Anyone who is unsuccessful needs to wait another year before applying. The EB-5 Investor Visa has no such calendar and applications are open throughout the year. There are just over 700 EB-5 visas available to each country each year. Very few countries come close to this limit, but a tiny minority of countries exceed it. When this happens, a calendar does come into play for EB-5. The visa year resets in October at which point the next tranche of circa 700 visas become available – but other factors also influence timings, e.g. processing efficiency at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Currently only citizens of China and Vietnam face EB-5 delays, but demand has skyrocketed in India in recent years and the number of visa issuances often gets close to or just passes the annual cap.

H-1B, EB-5 and Time Limits

The H-1B visa is valid for up to six years at which point a person has to find an alternative visa solution or return home. The natural next step is often the EB-3 Visa: Permanent Residency for Highly Skilled Migrants, but for citizens of India and China there are delays to the EB-3 route because demand has been so high for so long.

In fact for Indians EB-3 delays are extremely long – the authorities are currently just getting around to applications submitted by Indians in 2011! This is one of the reasons why the EB-5 Investor Visa is emerging as an attractive alternative for many H-1B visa holders. EB-5 currently has no wait list for Indians, although the release of pent up demand after Covid could change this. So interested EB-5 applicants from India should apply as soon as possible. EB-5 offers permanent residency (Green Card) for a $900,000 investment per qualifying family unit. This means that unlike H-1B you can stay in America forever provided you do not do anything to jeopardize your status. Green Card holders can convert to citizenship provided physical presence conditions are met.

H-1B, EB-5 and Work

With the H-1B visa, applicants are tied to their employer and it is difficult (but not impossible) to change jobs. This puts the employee at a relative disadvantage when it comes to salary and other negotiations with an employer. It also means that the H-1B holder would have to return home if they lose their job and cannot find another. The EB-5 Visa offers a Green Card and with it the complete freedom to work anywhere in the United States (or not to work). It is possible to be retired, a student or unemployed. There is no connection between your employment status and your immigration status under the EB-5 Visa Program.

H-1B to EB-5 the Process

Our attorneys can guide you through the application process. If you are switching from H-1B to EB-5 you need to go through an adjustment of status and file Form I-485. There are some benefits to this over other EB-5 applicants as you may be granted employment rights in the US while you are waiting for the USCIS to process your application provided you apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Anyone outside the US considering EB-5 Visa as an alternative to the H-1B visa needs to enlist an attorney to prepare and submit an I-526 form. Either way, every EB-5 visa applicant must be able to document the source of the funds used to pay for your investment and prove that they came from legitimate sources. Contact our team to arrange a free consultation.

Read more about the EB-5 Investor Visa Program

Sign up for the webinar by clicking here.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


L-1 Visa information

L-1 Visa: Are Managers of Small Businesses Eligible?

In our latest video, our Senior Immigration Attorney Verdie Atienza dispels the myth that managers and executives or small businesses are not eligible for the L-1 Visa. The L-1 Visa allows for the transfer of management-level employees from the overseas office to the US office of the same company.

D&A Immigration Lawyer Verdie Atienza discusses L-1 Visas for Small Businesses

There is a widely held preconception that only big multinational firms are eligible for this visa because many of the recipients of L-1 visa work for large multinational companies. But that does not mean small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are not eligible. In fact, you do not yet need to have established the US entity in order to pursue the L-1 route.

Davies & Associates helps a growing number of businesses pursuing the New Office L-1 route. This is where our team of corporate lawyers assist you with setting up the US office and then our immigration attorneys assist you with the employee transfer under L-1 Visa category.

As Verdie explains in the video, the company must have a relevant relationship with the new US office. That could be parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch. The important thing to look for in a law practice is one where the corporate and immigration teams work closely together because it is vital to ensure the US office is structured in a way that complies with the immigration regulations.

The L-1A Visa targets managers and executives and is valid for up to seven years. The L-1B targets employees in the company that hold specialized knowledge and is valid for upto five years. The initial validity period of an L-1 Visa (i.e. before renewal is required) depends on your country of origin and can be found in the State Department’s Reciprocity Schedule. New Office L-1 Visas are initially granted for one year so the authorities can check on the progress of the business sooner.

Contact Verdie to discuss your specific interests and circumstances. In addition to L-1 Visa, Verdie also manages our firm’s E-2 Treaty Investor Visa practice.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Investor Visa Application

EB-5 Investor Visa for Graduating Students

Although studying and working in America is a dream that many parents have for their children, the pathway to achieving this has never looked more challenging. There is, however, one route that removes all the hurdles at a single stroke: the EB-5 Investor Visa.

Fast Route to a Green Card

The EB-5 visa is one of the fastest routes to a Green Card (US permanent residency). A green card removes the need for students to jump through the hoops of F-1 student visas, Optional Practical Training (OPT), and the much-maligned H-1B visa. 

Permanent residency allows your children complete freedom to study or work anywhere in the United States and gives them time to find suitable employment. They may even qualify for in-state tuition fee rates.

OPT and the H-1B visa binds a student to a particular employer putting them in a weaker negotiating position when it comes to monetary compensation and benefits. It is harder to move jobs or, therefore, to leverage another offer to extract more concessions or a promotion. 

The EB-5 visa dispenses with these issues as your child’s presence in the US is not directly tied to their employment and there is no obligation to find a job or leave the country; it provides time to find a position with the best prospects for the future.

EB-5 Requirements

The EB-5 visa requires a minimum $900,000 investment. A whole family can receive green cards from a single investment, provided the children are under the age of 21. 

The US authorities apply a slightly complex calculation around the age of children. Their age freezes at specific points of the application process and then unfreezes at other stages, which gives rise to the slightly strange situation wherein their actual age may be different than their age in the eyes of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

It is best to discuss this with an immigration attorney since long-term forward planning is always recommended. There is a maximum of just over 700 visas available to each country each year, which means that countries face a waiting list if this number is exceeded. This could cause delays and push a child over the age of 21. If this happens, the child would require an EB-5 investment separate from the rest of the family.

EB-5 Visa Source of Funds Requirements

The money used to fund the EB-5 investment must come from acceptable sources, and the USCIS requires you to document and explain the source of your funds. Source of funds can be Sale of property, investments, gifts, etc. This can be a time consuming process depending on the complexity of the movement of funds and therefore, planning before your child reaches 21 years is vital if you intend to file a family application. Proper planning is advised for all remittances.

The EB-5 investment must be made in a new commercial enterprise and must create ten (10) jobs. Failure to comply could put the Green Card at risk. So, while there are few takers who decide to make and manage the investment themselves via Direct EB5 route, most people choose to invest with a government-approved Regional Center. 

There are many Regional Centers of varying quality; hence it is crucial to conduct due diligence on the Regional Center and its project to reduce any risks to the return of your $900,000 investment. 

EB-5 may just be the ultimate graduation present for your child, however it would be too late if you start intend to move forward with it just before graduation. Even though the process may take considerable time, the rewards of working in the US without hindrance are very enticing for any student or their parents.

By Girish Mohile, Connect with Girish.

EB-5 Process & Timeline

EB5 Process
Details of the Process & Timeline for an EB-5 Visa Application

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


L-1 Visa information

International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) Program: What you need to know

The Biden Administration has relaunched the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) Program this week. The International Entrepreneur Parole program allows the owners and managers of promising startups to temporarily reside in the United States to grow businesses that have strong economic and job-creation potential.

Who is Eligible for the International Entrepreneur Parole Program?

As the name suggests the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is open to global entrepreneurs, but ultimately eligibility will be determined by the Department for Homeland Security (DHS) on a case-by-case basis.

Basic eligibility requirements include:

  • The business must be a startup, created within the past five year within the United States
  • The applicant must hold “Substantial Ownership” in the startup business
  • The applicant must play an active role in the business
  • The business must have secured credible funding or other demonstrable support from private US investors, or federal, state & local entities.

How long is the International Entrepreneur Parole Program Valid for?

The International Entrepreneur Parole Program is valid for up to 30 months initially. This can be extended by another 30 months provided the business is able to demonstrate that it has grown and created jobs. However, parole is not a visa and people wanting to stay in the United States for longer will need to carefully plan their options. Anyone from an E-2 Treaty Country could potentially transition to an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. If the underlying business becomes large enough or the entrepreneur privately has enough funds, then the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa offers a relatively fast route to a Green Card for a $900,000 investment. A Green Card is the name for US permanent residency, which offers the freedom to live and work anywhere in the United States.

Can my spouse and children accompany me to the United States under the International Entrepreneur Parole Program?

Yes. Spouses (husbands and wives) and children can accompany the primary applicant to the United States under the International Entrepreneur Program. Spouses can apply for work authorization. The primary applicant can only work for the startup and is not eligible to work elsewhere in the United States.

How many entrepreneurs can be granted International Entrepreneur Parole under this Program?

The maximum number of entrepreneurs per startup business is three (3).

Is the International Entrepreneur Parole Program only for Hi-Tech Startups?

No. The International Entrepreneur Parole Program is for any startup business in any industry sector. Provided it meets the key criteria and can prove that it offers strong growth and job creation potential for the United States.

Which countries are eligible for the International Entrepreneur Parole Program?

The International Entrepreneur Parole Program is open to people from all countries unless there are specific sanctions or restrictions that impacts all form of immigration between your country and the United States. This means that the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is more wide reaching that the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, which has more advantages but is limited to people from Treaty Countries.

How does the International Entrepreneur Parole Program Compare with the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows an applicant to invest in and run a business in the United States. One of its main advantages over the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is the length of time you can remain in the United States. While the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is limited to 30 months with an additional 30 months for entrepreneurs who can demonstrate growth, the E-2 Visa is renewable forever provided the E-2 business continues to operate successfully. Like the IEP program, the E-2 Visa needs to be renewed and reviewed, but entrepreneurs usually have a little longer. This actual validity of your initial E-2 Visa does depend on where you are from – each country has its own validity period detailed in the State Department’s reciprocity schedules.

The advantage the IEP program has over the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is that the E-2 visa is only available to people from E-2 Treaty Countries. The International Entrepreneur Parole Program could be an alternative if you are not from an E-2 Treaty County. However, there is also another solution: E-2 Visa eligibility is determined by citizenship, so it is possible to obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty Country and become eligible for the visa. The fastest and most cost-effective ways to become a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country is the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme and the Turkey Citizenship by Investment Program.

How does the International Entrepreneur Parole Program Compare with the L-1 Visa?

Another alternative to the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is the L-1 Visa. The L-1 Visa permits the transfer of employees within the same company, the L-1A is for for International Managers & Executives and the L-1B is for highly skilled employees with specialized knowledge. Our firm specializes in New Office L-1 Visas, where you set up a new US office of your company and transfer an employee to the US to oversee the startup and growth of that company.

Unlike E-2, there are no nationality requirements for the L-1 Visa. The L-1A Visa can last up to seven years and the L-1B can be renewed up to a maximum of five years, both of which are longer than the IEP program. However, new office L-1 visas need to be reviewed and renewed after one year – which is earlier than the IEP program, but the progress requirements are usually less stringent. L-1 Visa holders who wish to remain in the United States permanently have a clear cut route to a Green Card through the EB-1c visa option.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Italy Reopens to Travel – What are the Options for Immigration?

The Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has just announced that Italy is to reopen its borders from the middle of May as it seeks to welcome back people who have been vaccinated or can produce a negative Covid-19 test. The main aim is to welcome back tourists ahead of the summer season, but it is also good news for anyone seeking a move to the country.

So what are the options for your Italian dream?

Italian Residency Options

Our firm’s most popular Italian visa is the Elective Residency Visa. This offers Italian residency to anyone who can prove they have a minimum of €32,000/year earned outside Italy to live on, and who can also find qualifying accommodation. The visa route was temporarily shut as a result of Covid, but it is now reopen and Italian embassies and consulates are welcoming applications once again.

In order to attract more people to its shores, Italy also offers an advantageous tax residency program. Pensioners are eligible for a flat tax of 7% on their overseas income (e.g. their pensions), high-net-worth individuals can avail themselves of a flat tax of €100,000 per annum, and certain workers can reduce their tax burden by 70% for the first five years they work in Italy. Conditions inevitably apply, please view our Italian Tax Residency page for more details.

Another way to quickly obtain Italian residency is through investment. The Italian government offers various cost-effective investment pathways. This includes and investment in a start-up, government bonds, or philanthropic donations. The starting investment requirement is just €250,000 and increases to a maximum of €2 million depending on the type of investment.

Italian Citizenship

It is possible to naturalize as an Italian citizen by virtue of ancestry or residency. Anyone who can document an appropriate Italian ancestor can apply for Italian citizenship. There are millions people in Brazil, Argentina, Venezeula, Mexico and the United States who are eligible for this visa.

Alternatively, if you establish your residence in Italy, for example through the Elective Residency Visa or the Investor Visa, it is possible to eventually become a citizen of Italy. European Union citizens only require two years’ residency in Italy before being eligible for citizens, for people from the rest of the world, you must wait ten years. The situation for British citizens is more complicated because of Brexit. We advise you to speak to our team for clarification on this.

Italian Property

Buying property in Italy can be complicated by bureacracy. Our Italy team can help you navigate each step of the process providing a reliable, bilingual partner to make sure you make the best decisions. Watch the webinar we hosted on the One Euro home program. We gathered key experts on Italy’s €1 Home to provide rounded advice to people thinking of taking advantage of the program.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.