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.


EB-1, E-2 Visa for NIEs during Covid

October Visa Bulletin Analysis

By Maxine Philavong

In the first Visa Bulletin of the fiscal year, October’s Visa Bulletin showed little to no movement in the family visa category, while showing movement in the employment-based category. Although this may be disappointment for affected people looking to obtain a family-based visa, this is good news for those looking to obtain an employment-based visa.

The October Visa Bulletin is perhaps the most important visa bulletin of the year. This is the first visa bulletin of the fiscal year, meaning that the State Department released its calculations for the total number of employment-based visas available for fiscal year 2021. The anticipated number of employment-based visas is 261,500, an all-time high. Current demand for visa numbers is well below the estimated annual limit of 261,500, according to the State Department, due in large part the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just as demand for visas are down due to the current pandemic, this month’s bulletin came much later than expected due to COVID-19. Moreover, the pandemic has caused many issues moving forward in all visa categories. For example, the ongoing visa and travel bans have made interviewing and acceptance much more difficult for family-based visa seekers. Similarly, the pandemic is cause for almost 100k individuals seeking family-based visas unable to reserve interviews due to embassy closures.

However, because family-based visa seekers have been paused, employment-based visas have moved forward exponentially. The following is a quick look at movement seen in the October Visa Bulletin:

FAMILY-BASED VISAS:

There was no movement for family-based visas. However, the bulletin provided some anticipated movement in the upcoming bulletins. Potential movement includes:

F-1: Potential forward movement for up to 3 weeks

F-2A: Current

F-2B: Potential forward movement for up to 3 weeks

EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISAS:

Employment-based visa applicants saw incredible movement due to family-based visas being paused.

EB-1: All countries expect for China and India remained current. China and India advanced three months to June 1, 2018.

EB-2: All countries expect for China and India remained current. China advanced six weeks to March 1, 2016, while India advanced two months to September 1, 2009.

EB-3: All countries except India and China were current in October. Cutoff dates for China advanced four and a half months to July 1, 2017, and for India advanced three and a half months to January 15, 2010.

EB-5: For the Non-Regional Center Program, India remained current, along with all other countries except for China and Vietnam. China’s cutoff date remained on August 15, 2015, and Vietnam’s cutoff date remained at August 1, 2017. The Regional Center program was extended from September 30 to December 11, 2020.

There has never been a better time to apply for an employment-based visa, especially the EB-5 visa. Davies & Associates is one of the longest-established EB-5 law firms in the industry and our team regularly contribute to the global media on the subject. We have helped hundreds of families, business owners and entrepreneurs relocate to America and have never had a case rejected on Source of Funds, which is one of the most challenging aspects of an EB-5 application. Our success comes from blending our highly qualified lawyers with an understanding of the culture, law, business practices and banking regulations in each jurisdiction we operate.

Contact D&A for a free consultation to learn more about the EB-5 Visa Program today.


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.