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.


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.


EB-5 USA Green Card Visa – Key Features & Qualifying Criteria

If you are someone who wants to immigrate to USA for business related opportunities, then you must know about the EB-5 Visa that comes with all the essential features that you may require. The key features and qualifying criteria of the visa are as follows:

1. Investment

If you are immigrating to another country for business purpose, often the amount you are allowed to invest can get in the way. However, if you hold the EB-5 U.S.A. Green Card Visa, you can invest how much ever you want for any business. However, the minimum investment should be more than $500,000.

2. Time period

Often, other visa holders need to visit, leave and revisit the country. However, through the EB-5 visa, you needn’t leave the country after a certain term. You can manage your business there as you are holding the EB-5 visa.

3. Employment

People who hold the EB-5 visa can work the way they want. This is the significant advantage of this visa. You can run the business, invest and trade or you can also retire there. Holding this visa poses no legal problems for any position you work for.

4. Visa Denial

If you have the EB-5 green card visa, you need not worry about visa denials in future because it provides the holder with convenience whenever they want to immigrate for business. Also, another feature that comes with the green card is that the holder can and must reside in the country for 180 days per year. So, you can stay in the country without worries.

5. Eligibility

To apply for this visa, you must be financially well off to invest more than $500,000. You should also get the approval form from the “Immigration Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.” In your company at least ten U.S. employees should work within two years of investment. Also, you cannot run the business alone; you must have a business partner.

Hold the EB-5 Green Card Visa and make maximum out of its features that include holding any employment position you want, staying in the country without having to leave and starting your business with a partner. So, if you are looking for a good U.S business immigration attorney, then you must consult a US Immigration Advisor who has the best EB-5 immigration lawyers to guide you through the immigration process.


5 Tips to Consider Before Choosing an EB-5 Immigration Attorney

The EB-5 program is envisaged to give a boost to the economy of the United States by attracting investors belonging to other nationalities to make investments in US-based businesses. The minimum amount that is to be invested under the program is US $ 1,000,000 (and US $ 500,000 in targeted employment areas). The business must provide employment to 10 US citizens, apart from the business owner and family members. If the application under EB-5 is approved, then the applicant is granted a 2 years residence in the US on a conditional basis.

The process to obtain an EB 5 visa is complicated and tricky which is not possible for a layman to complete on its own. This is where the requirement of an experienced US business immigration attorney comes up. An expert EB 5 visa attorney will ensure that all the steps are duly followed, and the only accurate information is furnished to the authorities.

Being of such great importance to the prospects of one getting an EB 5 visa application approved, due diligence must be exercised while selecting an EB 5 business attorney. Here are five essential tips to be considered before choosing a US business immigration attorney: –

  1. Experience: – The attorney who is chosen to handle the EB5 visa application process, must have proper credentials and prior experience in the field. Therefore, it is recommended to conduct a background check before making a final decision.

  2. Expertise: – It needs to be ascertained as to what type of applications the attorney handles because the process for filing a Direct EB 5 application and Regional EB 5 application is entirely different as both of them require different skills set to be managed.

  3. Fees: – Although, fees should be the last issue that should affect the decision of selecting a US business immigration attorney. Though, it is recommended that the scope of services being offered must be compared with the cost being levied.

  4. Time: – In the case of EB 5 visa application, time is of the essence. It is therefore advisable that the time devoted by the attorney to understand the client business must be given careful consideration.

  5. Reputation: – Reputation also counts a lot when finalising a decision regarding an immigration attorney. It is recommended to research regarding the track record of the attorney.

Selecting a competitive Us business immigration attorney is an essential step towards realising the dream of living and working in the United States. Above mentioned tips will help anyone make a sound and informed decision.