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. 

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