A Fast-Growing Market for the EB-5 “Green Card” Visa

Duncan Hill is marketing director at Davies & Associates LLC. Duncan is not a lawyer and nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice.

 

 

D&A’s global chairman, Mark Davies, will be visiting South Africa next week to meet with existing and prospective clients and to present at the Global Investment Immigration Summit 2019.

South Africa has become an increasingly important market for our firm. The country has a strong business and entrepreneurial spirit coupled with a growing tradition for global mobility. South Africa has more high-net-worth individuals than anywhere else in Africa, and a recent survey by FNB Estate Agents found that 18% of property sales by this group were prompted by the owners’ plans to move overseas.

Although South Africans have traditionally been attracted to the UK, Europe and Mauritius, we are seeing a growing interest in the United States. US student visas are up by a third over five years as more South Africans opt to study at American universities, and issuances of the H-1B visa for highly-skilled workers has registered a 50% increase over the same period.

Yet it is the EB-5 Investor Visa that has experienced the sharpest growth of any visa category among South Africans. There has been a six-fold increase in the number of EB-5 visas issued to South Africans since 2014. This visa is the fastest route to a US Green Card for individuals or families that are able to make a $500,000 investment. A Green Card offers a whole range of benefits, including the freedom to live, work, retire or study anywhere in the United States.

There has also been growth in the number of L visas issued to South Africans, albeit at a slower rate than EB-5. The L1 visa allows for the intracompany transfer of employees between the South African office and an American office of the same company. Davies & Associates specializes in helping companies set-up a new American office for the purposes of transferring employees on an L1 visa.

We are also seeing increasing number of inquiries from South Africans seeking a second passport to allow them to travel more seamlessly around the world. One popular option is the Grenada passport, which allows for visa-free travel to 50% more countries than the South African passport, including to the UK, the EU, Hong Kong, Singapore and the People’s Republic of China.

The Grenada passport also makes South Africans eligible for the United States E-2 Visa, which allows the holder to live in the United States for the purpose of owning and operating a business.

Mark Davies is a leading US immigration attorney with experience of successfully filing hundreds of EB-5 applications for our clients around the world. Please contact me to schedule a free consultation with Mark to determine the best immigration solution for you.

Mark will be in Johannesburg from June 20th – June 23rd and in Cape Town on June 24th. If you cannot make these dates or cities, please contact us to set up a telephone consultation with a view to meeting on his next visit.


Direct EB-5 Visas – The Criteria

If you are an investor and looking to expand your business to the United States, then the EB-5 visa program allows you to set up a commercial entity within the territory of the United States, subject to the fulfillment of its various criteria. More than 90% of EB-5 investments are made through EB 5 Regional Centers, and as a result, very few law firms have experience with the alternative: the so-called “Direct” EB-5 applications.

A Direct EB-5 application is one where an investor opens, expands or acquires EB-5 qualifying businesses in multiple and varied industries across the United States. Davies & Associates has a successful history of representing clients from all around the world start and invest in businesses in the United States. This includes clients from India, Russia, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Egypt and many more countries. In this blog today we will discuss the criteria for getting a direct EB-5 Visa to the USA.

  • Capital Requirements: A Foreign company run by a foreign individual is required to make a minimum investment of 1 Million dollars for fulfilling the first requirement of EB-5. This amount is brought down to $ 500.000 if the investment is in a TEA region or a targeted employment region, which refers to mostly underdeveloped areas with high levels of unemployment. This requirement is statutory and this capital does not include costs incurred in processing and legal fees. It’s important to note that these criteria cannot be fulfilled with financed money, for example if you have borrowed from a bank and should come from the existing profits of a company.
  • Non-Profit Entities: Non-profit entities are ineligible for the EB-5 visa subject to certain exceptions. If you are looking to set up an NGO or any other organization on a non-profit model, then you would have to look for other avenues.
  • United States Commercial Entity: This one’s pretty basic, and requires the commercial entity to be registered in the territory of the United States and subject to federal and state laws. If your country has an investment treaty with the United States you can also look at the E2 visa which is by far the fastest way to get into the country. In case of an E2 visa, you can hire yourself and be your own sponsor for your immigration to the country.
  • Employment Generation: Other criteria of the EB-5 visa is an undertaking to create at least 10 full time jobs for US citizens. It’s important to keep this in mind if you are planning to get the workforce from another country.

We have told you briefly, about the criteria for getting an investor visa for the United States of America. We at Davies and Associates LLC have helped hundreds of corporations, successfully set up their businesses in the country, and we would love to hear from you in case you have any further questions.


Seven Ways for Indians to Visit, Work, or Live in the United States

The United States of America is a nation that welcomes people from all over the world to be part of their coexistent culture. However, it can be confusing to understand the process of migrating to the country. While traveling abroad can be a great adventure in itself, it takes a great deal of preparation, planning, and form-filling before you can actually leave for the country. Here are seven ways Indians can visit, work, or even live in the US:

Apply for a US Visa and an EAD

You should have a US visa and a work permit aka Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to be employed in the States. As you delve further into the process, you’ll know that such visas have been classified into seasonal work visas, temporary work visas, exchange work visas, or even permanent work visas. You can obtain a US Visa from the US Consulate in your country.

Employment-based immigration

If you’re planning to study in the United States, apply for an F1 student visa. You should be enrolled as a full-time student at a language-training programme or an academic institute in the United States, prove your financial stability to finance your studies, and that you will maintain your identity as a foreign resident.

Apply for a green card

Formally called the United States Lawful Permanent Residency, a green card authorizes a non-immigrant to study, work, and live permanently in the States. Permanent residency becomes easier if you have a family member or are employed full-time in a company in the States. The family or employment agency in concern would be thus called your sponsor. For more information, check the USCIS website if you want to apply for an ‘adjustment of status’ if you belong to the categories mentioned.

Apply for an EB-5 visa

If you want to invest in the States, apply for an EB-5 visa to invest in a commercial project as a foreign investor. Begin by investing $50,000 in a commercial project based in the States for a duration of five years. In 18 months, you shall acquire conditional green cards that permit you and your family to study, work and live in the States. The project in question must have 10 or more American employees for a period of two years, after which you can acquire permanent resident green cards. You will get back your investment after five years from your first day in the United States.

Apply for an E-2 work visa

An E-2 work visa enables a resident from a treaty country to work in the United States; in other words, they sponsor themselves into the country. Though you invest an amount according to the company and industry, rates usually stay somewhere between $75,000 to $200,000. Moreover, spouses are permitted to work in the United States as well. Such visas can be extended for up to five years and be renewed for an indefinite number of times. If you’re lucky, you might just move forward in line for an EB-5 direct green card as well. Indians are not currently eligible for E-2 visas, but it is possible to first become a citizen of a country that is eligible. This includes Grenada in the West Indies, which is an E-2 Treaty nation to the United States.

Fiancé/Fiancée visa

The non-US fiancé/fiancée in question must apply for a K-1 non-immigrant visa to travel to the United States and marry their partner, who acts as their sponsor as well. However, the couple must get married within 90 days of arrival.

Become a lawful permanent resident

You can become a permanent US citizen only after continuously living in the States for a period of five years. Though you can make short trips overseas, you require a minimum of 30 months of continuous residency. The period will be reduced to three years instead of five if you’re in the military, or are married to a US citizen. As expected, you are required to follow the rules of the state.

These are the seven ways Indians can start a new life in the United States. If you want more information regarding the same, contact us at www.usimmigrationadvisor.com.


5 Advantages of Taking EB-5 Visa Through Regional Center

The EB-5 visa is usually the quickest, most straightforward way to a Green Card to the United States. Applicants are able to secure a Green Card for themselves, their spouses and any children under the age of 21 within an average of around 18 months. There are two different routes to a Green Card. One is an investment of $1 million or $500,000 in setting up a new commercial enterprise. This is called the Direct EB-5 route and D&A is one of the few law firms with significant experience of this. The other, and by far the most popular option, is by investing with a Regional Center.

Why is the Regional Center route so popular?

  1. Compliance: It is important to remain compliant with EB-5 regulations so that there are no threats to the Green Card. One important requirement is that each EB-5 investment should create and sustain ten full-time American jobs. This can be a challenge to investors setting up their own business and non-compliance can put the investment and Green Card at risk. The Regional Centers are allowed a more complex calculation for job creation and, while there are never any guarantees, a good Regional Center can be expected to comply with the regulations on your behalf.
  2. Less work: EB-5 Investors simply need to place the requisite funds with the Regional Center and they do all the rest of the work for you. Setting up your own business comes with addition work, but of course, this can also be exciting and Davies & Associates Corporate Team is able to assist you every step of the way. Many of our clients decided to go the Regional Center route and then establish their own business when they have their Green Card. This means their business is not tied to EB-5 regulations and there is more leeway to grow the business in the most appropriate way.
  3. Lower investment: Regional centers usually locate their projects in so-called “Targeted Employment Areas” (TEAs), these are areas of high unemployment and rural areas. The EB-5 investment is actually set at $1 million, but this is halved to $500,000 if the investment is made in a TEA. People pursuing the Direct EB-5 route need to ensure that they establish their business in a TEA if they wish to make the lower investment. Davies & Associates is able to provide advice on this.
  4. Interesting Projects: Regional Centers invest in some truly exciting projects, from Golf Courses in Florida to hotels in Hollywood, California where all the A-list celebrities hang out. There are so many different projects with different business cases, it can be exciting selecting which project to invest in.
  5. Maximum flexibility: Investing in an EB5 regional center will give you utmost flexibility, in terms of not having to micro manage your investment. You are not required to live near the area where you have invested and you can travel and reside anywhere in the territory of the United States.

With over 800 Regional Centers of varying quality across the United States, it is vital to conduct due diligence on your chosen projects. Davies & Associates is uniquely positioned in that we have attorneys experienced in financial real estate who can provide advice on your chosen Regional Center and project.


EB-5: The Best Route for Russians Seeking a U.S. Education for their Children

Irina Lust

Irina Lust, Head of Russia Practice Group, Davies & Associates LLC
Irina Lust heads up our Russia Practice & East European Practice Group at D&A. She has been featured in multiple newspapers, tv shows, and print media publications for her opinion on US business immigration as it pertains to the Russian speaking world. Having immigrated to the United States from Siberia, Irina is a native Russian speaker.

 

Most of the Russians I speak to are reluctant to emigrate. They are proud of their country and those who choose to move overseas are often motivated by their children’s education. Since America has some of the best universities in the world, it is understandable that many Russians wish to send their children here. 

Almost 5,000 U.S. student visas were issued to Russian nationals last year – more than Great Britain and almost as many as France and Germany. These F-1 student visas are classified as non-immigrant visas and students must return to their country of origin after graduation, or in some cases, after the completion of an extra training period. 

This is not always enough. Many parents want to ensure their children can stay on after completion of studies. Working in the United States offers lots of professional and personal advantages, many of which can be brought back to Russia in the future. 

For those who can afford it, the EB-5 visa is the best solution to this. This visa allows the applicant, a spouse, and dependants under the age of 21 to live, work and study in the United States. It is the fastest route to a green card currently available to Russian nationals.

The EB-5 program requires an investment of $500,000 in an area of high unemployment or a $1 million investment in other parts of the United States. There are two routes open to investors: to make a direct investment in a new commercial enterprise, or to make an indirect investment through a government-approved “Regional Center” fund.

Regional Centers compete for investment from EB-5 applicants for a range of commercial real estate projects. This is usually the most straightforward route because the Regional Center ensures compliance on behalf of the applicant. For example, there is a requirement that each EB-5 investment should create and sustain ten full-time American jobs. There are over 800 Regional Centers of varying quality across the United States. Our team analyse Regional Center projects from a real-estate finance perspective and help clients identify any risks associated with these projects. 

While the overwhelming majority of clients opt for the Regional Center route, the Direct EB-5 route offers entrepreneurs exciting business opportunities in the United States. We are one of the few U.S. immigration firms with significant experience of this pathway, and both our immigration and corporate legal teams are able to offer end-to-end solutions for our clients. 

We have helped a number of Russian clients secure EB-5 visas over the years. As a Russian immigrant to the United States myself, I understand the joys and the challenges of this whole process. It has been my pleasure to build personal, as well as professional relationships with my clients, even, in some cases, touring university campuses so that they can realise their dream of an American education for their children. 


EB-5 Visas as an Alternative to the H1-B Visa

Mark Davies

Mark Davies,Mark Davies is Chairman and Managing Partner of Davies & Associates. Dual qualified as a lawyer in the U.S. and the UK, Mark chairs our Global Business and Investor Team

 

Most highly skilled Indians looking to move to the United States are familiar with the H1-B visa for specialty workers. Yet fewer know about another more reliable and less time-consuming pathway: the EB-5 Investor Visa program.

Nearly three quarters of all the H1-B visas set aside for highly-skilled migrants are awarded to people from India. But this most sought-after route to working in the United States has never faced more uncertainty. 

The H1-B visa is a lottery-based, non-immigrant visa that requires sponsorship from an applicant’s employer. Approval rates are subject to the inconsistent and ever-changing immigration landscape in the United States where immigration is a contentious political issue. 

Only about one in three applicants are successful in their quest for an H1-B visa. And even when work-visa petitions are approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there is still a considerable amount of uncertainty that can discourage the sponsoring employer.  

The EB-5 visa offers a way to sidestep all this uncertainty. This program allows foreign immigrants to invest a minimum amount of $500,000 in the US economy and acquire a Green Card for their immediate family and themselves within a span of 18 – 20 months.

The applicant can choose to invest their money in a so-called Regional Center fund, which uses the money to build anything from hotels to golf courses across the United States. The Regional Center takes away all the burdens of reporting compliance to USCIS. For example, the Regional Center will prove that the investment is being used to create ten American jobs per applicant, which is a requirement of the EB-5 program. 

Since there are almost 1,000 Regional Centers of varying quality across the United States, it is vital that that an applicant selects an attorney who is not only experienced in EB-5 visas, but who also has business acumen. This will help them navigate this web of opportunities so as to maximize the chances of the investment capital being repaid and ensuring there are no risks to the green card.  

The EB-5 has grown steadily in popularity in the last two years and there is a chance that USCIS may start operating a waiting list for Indian nationals from 2019. Yet, for those who want to acquire the ability to work in the United States sooner, other options are available.

 

One possibility is the E-2 visa, which allows a person to live in the United States for the purpose of owning and running a qualifying business or enterprise. Such visas can initially be granted for any period up to five years, during which time the visa holder can travel freely into and out of the United States. E-2 visas can be renewed indefinitely, so long as there is still a need to manage and direct the underlying business. 

However, Indian nationals are not currently eligible for E-2 visas. Only countries with trade and commerce treaties with the United States can pursue this option and India and the United States do not currently have such a treaty in place. Nevertheless, the two countries have a long history of close economic ties, and the United States has just granted India Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) status. This has eased controls on India’s defense and high technology exports. It is therefore possible that the two countries could negotiate an E-2 treaty in future, under which Americans would need to be grated reciprocal access to India. 

In the meantime, we have still managed to help our Indian clients secure E-2 visas. An increasing number of Indians are interested in “citizenship by investment” schemes operated by a range of countries around the world. For example, Davies & Associates has a well-established presence in Grenada, which offers a whole range of benefits, including a stable investment environment and a passport that has visa free access to 127 nations worldwide. Grenadian citizens are also eligible for E-2 visas, and we have assisted a number of clients with securing E-2 visas after they have become citizens of Grenada. 

The E-2 visa is cheaper than the EB-5 with shorter processing times, which means that many clients choose to combine an EB-5 with an E-2 visa. E-2 processing times can be as little as one month and can cost around $100,000.00 depending on the business being developed. Pursuing an E-2 visa allows clients to live and work in the United States whilst their EB-5 application is being processed. The Grenadian authorities are also very efficient and the processing time for the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme is less than three months. This programme requires a $150,000 donation to Grenada’s National Transformation Fund or a $350,000 investment in real estate offers the possibility of Grenadian citizenship. 

Another possibility is the L-1 visa, which allows an Indian investor to expand their existing business into the United States. If a person has owned a business that they have worked at for more than one year, they may be able to obtain an L-1 non-immigrant visa by opening a branch in the United States. It is vital to have a carefully prepared business plan and to have an understanding of the complex tax and other reporting requirements. Indian consultants and advisors are not authorized by the United States government to give immigration advice. It is vital that clients engage a licensed US immigration lawyer to increase their chances of submitting a successful application. After one year, an L-1 visa-holder may be able to apply for a green card as an international manager or executive through the EB1-C program.

 

So the high-rejection rate and uncertainty surrounding the H1-B visa program need not spell the end of an applicant’s American dream. The key is to find a competent and experienced immigration attorney who will work closely with an applicant to find the most appropriate solution to keep their dream alive. 


Why the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is the Next Best Thing to a Green Card

Verdie Atienza

By Verdie Atienza,Head of E-2 visas & Philippines Practice Group, Davies & Associates LLC,
Verdie Atienza leads the L1/E2 team at Davies & Associates. He is dual qualified to practice law in Philippines and the United States. As an immigrant to the United States, Verdie handled his own adjustment of status application and retains a strong interest in all kinds of immigration issues.

 

The E-2 nonimmigrant classification permits a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.

You may follow the link below to check the list of the treaty countries:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/fees/treaty.html

To qualify for E-2 classification, the treaty investor must:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

Below are the specific reasons why the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa may be the next best thing to a green card:

1.Quick Processing Times

If one already in the U.S. on another lawful non-immigrant status, there is an option to apply to change status to E-2. The Treaty Investor applicant may choose premium processing by paying an additional fee of $1,410. With premium processing, USCIS will adjudicate the application within 15 days.

On the other hand, if one is outside the U.S., consular processing is the way to go. Processing time varies with every Embassy or Consulate. It usually takes the E-2 Consular Section around two weeks to a little over a month to review the E-2 visa application before they schedule the appointment for interview. 

2.Relatively Less Capital Investment Needed

There is no minimum capital investment required but the investment amount must be logical and reasonable in relation to the nature of the business. In general, we recommend an investment of at least $100,000. The investment amount varies depending on the nature of the business. A service-oriented business like a consulting company will require less capitalization as compared to a full-service real estate company which will require more than $100,000. 

3.Funds to be Invested may come from various sources

The funds to be invested should be the personal funds of the applicant. The funds may come from employment or business income or from the sale of property. The funds may also be from a loan provided it is not secured by the E-2 enterprise or its assets. 

Interestingly, the funds may also be gifted to the applicant. If the applicant, does not have enough personal funds, relatives and even friends may gift additional funds to the applicant.

4.Control of Investment Funds and the Treaty Enterprise

The treaty investor applicant will come to the US to develop and direct the enterprise. Essentially, the applicant has discretion as to how he wants to spend start-up funds or working capital for the success of the enterprise. The applicant is responsible for making all business decisions to ensure that the enterprise will be a success.

5.You may opt for a franchise

It can be challenging to make start-up company a success. With the franchise option, the applicant has all kinds of support from the franchisor to make sure that the E-2 enterprise will meet its targets and generate revenues and employment. There are numerous franchise opportunities in the US that are suitable for the E-2 visa that do not cost a fortune.

6.Dependents are entitled to E-2 derivative visas

The spouse and dependent children of the treaty investor applicant qualify for E-2 derivative visas should the application be approved. With the derivative visa, the spouse may apply for Employment Authorization Document and work for any employer in the US while the children are permitted to study in American public schools.

7.Flexibility with Travel

Since the E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa, there is no requirement to establish residence or domicile in the US. The applicant is free to travel for as long as the E-2 visa is valid. This is an important advantage especially for individuals who have businesses in various parts of the world.

8.Potential Tax Advantages 

Depending on the duration of stay in the US, the treaty investor applicant may potentially be classified as a non-resident and therefore not be liable for tax on worldwide income. Consultation and tax planning is highly recommended especially for high net worth individuals who choose to apply for the E-2 visa.

9.Relatively Low Legal Cost

The legal and filing fees to obtain an E-2 visa are significantly less than legal and filing fees for other visa categories like the EB-5 visa or the Immigrant Investor Program. Our firm offers a fixed fee so the applicant has the assurance that he or she will not pay exorbitant legal fees.


5 Non-Immigrant Visas for the USA

There are many different type of non-immigrant visas for people wishing to work, study or do business in the USA. If you select the wrong visa, you may be denied entry at the United States border, or in the worst case, you might face a ban on entering the country. It is important to be aware of the different types of visa,


1. Business Visa: The B1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for the USA for people wishing to visit America to conduct business. It is for people who want to attend a conference or a business meeting in the United States. Importantly, this american business visa does not allow a person to set up a new business in the USA. You must apply at least 60 days before the date you want to travel. Avoid buying air tickets in advance if you have not received your visa yet.


2. Work Visa: There are various categories for this type of visas like H, L, O, P and Q. Which one you need depends on the type of your work for which you are going the USA. These types of visas are also temporary and holders of these visas cannot stay in the USA for a lifetime. Once your visa expires you will have to return to your country of origin. You can not get the visa until USCIS approves your petition.

3. Student Visa: People who want to study in any school or college in the USA have to apply for student visa. You may be asked to pass a certain language test for eligibility. By this test, they see how efficiently you can read, write, listen and speak that particular language. Most of them ask for an English language test. When you are on a student visa you can not take a break for more than 5 months or you may lose your visa.

4. Artists and Athletes Visa: Professional artists like actors, singers and stage performers can apply for this visa type. It includes actors shooting a movie, stage performance and attending an awards show. Athletes can also apply for the visa if there is a tournament or match to attend.

5. Media and Journalist Visa: Journalists can apply for an I visa which allows them to travel to the United States so that they can cover American news for their domestic audiences.


6 Key Things To Know Before Applying for an L1 Visa

The L1 visa program is one of the most popular options for companies operating in the United States of America, to bring skilled workers at the executive or managerial levels, from overseas into the country. It is a non-immigrant visa, which means that it is granted to applicants who are not looking to permanently migrate to the country and hence is a short-term option. Every year there are millions of workers who apply for the L1 visa for USA from India, due to the vast presence of Indian companies in the country. The American L1 visa can range in duration from three months to 7 years, depending on the migrant’s country of origin. The L1 visa also allows for owners of small businesses to expand their business in the United States and transfer an executive member of staff to the United States to manage that business.

If you are looking for information about the L1 program read our guide that will tell you about 5 key things you should know before applying for one:

  1. Reciprocity schedule: The duration of validity of the L1 visa ranges from 3 months to 7 years. This is largely based on the relations of the country of origin of the worker, with the United States of America. For countries like India and Japan, the L1 visa is granted for 5 years, which can be extended for 2 years more. If you are applying for the L1 visa, please check the US government website to refer to the reciprocity schedule and check the status of your country. There are also certain exemptions granted to specific countries relating to documents and paperwork.
  2. Refusal rate: It’s also important to note that the L1 visa faces a high rate of rejection as compared to other programs. This is due to many factors which involve mistakes with paperwork, incomplete documents or exercise of discretion by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), which comes under the Department of Homeland Security. Recently, the refusal rate for the program was more than 18% so make sure you don’t go wrong with your application. Take professional help from legal firms based in the United States.
  3. Familial rights: The L1 visa is also much sought after due to its multiple familial benefits. As a spouse of an L1 visa holder you are automatically entitled to work in the United States and are granted an L-2 visa, once your employee authorization is cleared. The children of the L1 visa holder can also avail the L-2 visa (under the age of 21 years) and are eligible to apply for American schools and colleges.
  4. Permanent residency: The L-1 is also a legally compliant and valid route to permanent residency, in the form of Green card. This is due to the doctrine of dual intent, applied by US courts and immigration authorities.
  5. Application process: You can get an L-1 by directly applying to the USCIS by filling form I-129. Your company must qualify under the guidelines issued for your application to be considered valid. Again the process involves lot of intricate paperwork so it’s best to seek help. Note that ndian consultants and advisors are not licensed US Immigration lawyers and are not authorized by the US government to offer immigration advice. Be sure to get a legal advisor on your side.
  6. Business Plan: Unless you are a very established or multinational business that can produce US tax returns a properly prepared business plan is critical. At D&A, we believe that a successful business plan needs to be prepared as a collaborative effort between the client, an immigration lawyer and an immigration business plan analyst. Our specialist team that provides US business expansion services incorporates both business analysts and lawyers.

Davies & Associates has a long history of successfully helping people from all over the world get L1 and L2 visas to the United States. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you have any questions about this or any other visa.


Philippine National Seeking U.S. Visas: The Options

Verdie Atienza

By Verdie Atienza,Head of E-2 visas & Philippines Practice Group, Davies & Associates LLC,
Verdie Atienza leads the L1/E2 team at Davies & Associates. He is dual qualified to practice law in Philippines and the United States. As an immigrant to the United States, Verdie handled his own adjustment of status application and retains a strong interest in all kinds of immigration issues.

Once bound together, the Philippines and America have a unique and special relationship. After the Philippines was granted independence in 1946, the two countries established close cultural, military and economic ties, and so it is no surprise that many Filipinos want to live and work in America today.

Given the strong historic bonds between the Philippines and the United States, there are a number of options open to Filipinos seeking a working visa to the United States. At Davies & Associates, we specialize in helping businessmen, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals secure investor visas to the United States.

We have been seeing increasing demand for investor visa from across the Philippines, and from among the Filipino-Chinese community in particular. The Filipino-Chinese community has a reputation for business ownership and entrepreneurship that makes them especially eligible for several types of investor visas to the United States.

Having been born and raised in the Philippines and having practiced law there, I am always pleased to hear from Filipinos interested in investor visas for the United States. I speak Tagalog and understand the special cultural and business climate of the Philippines. I work closely with our Filipino clients to determine the best visa for their individual requirements.


E-2 visas

The E-2 visa is the most common visa solution for members of the Philippine business community seeking to set up a business in USA. The Philippines has been an E-2 Treaty country of the United States since 1955. This allows Philippine nationals to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.

A Filipino investor qualifies for E2 classification if he or she meets the following criteria:

  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

An investment is the Filippino investor’s placing of capital, including funds and/or other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails.

A substantial amount of capital is:

  • Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one.
  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise.
  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.

E-1 Visas

The E-1 non-immigrant classification allows Philippine nationals to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in substantial trade between the U.S. and the Philippines on his or her own behalf. Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to:

  • Goods
  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Technology and its transfer
  • Some news-gathering activities.

EB-5 Visas

Filipinos seeking more permanent residency in the United States can seek a green card through the EB-5 visa program. Under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card if they make a minimum 500,000 USD investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and, in doing so, create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs.

Most successful applicants to the EB-5 visa program place their investment in the Regional Center Program. EB5 Regional Centers are USCIS-approved funds who invest applicants’ money in appropriate commercial enterprises that meet the job-creation requirement.


L-1A and L-1B visas

The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated Philippines offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.

The L-1B nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated offices in the Philippines to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a Philippines company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help establish one.


H-1B Visas

Every year, the U.S. government make work visas available for specialty occupations. A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Specialty occupations include but are not limited to, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts. Considering the substantial equivalency of the college/university degrees obtained in the Philippines to that of US degrees, Filipinos are a step ahead in qualifying for visas for specialty occupations.


Specialist Visas for Medical Professionals

Filipino medical professionals are also at an advantage for obtaining professional licensure and immigration solutions for the US. In fact, Philippine-trained physicians and dentists comprise one of the largest groups in the United States. Today, the healthcare sector is one of the most critical areas of professional practice in the United States of America due to shortage of qualified professionals. Our FMP Practice Team is composed of established immigration lawyers and specialist consultants that work together to ease the burdensome barriers of entry for qualified professionals seeking to enter the United States.

Given a long and close history, there are many different options for Philippine nationals seeking to live and work in the United States. At Davies & Associates, our Tagalog-speaking team works closely with our clients to determine the best visa for their individual requirements.