In 2011, expect USCIS to issue around 6,000 of the 10,000 EB-5 visas available each year.
That's according to Stephen Yale-Loehr of Miller Mayer, who participated in a recent webinar sponsored by the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL). The webinar, which featured four immigration attorneys who have made names for themselves in the EB-5 community, covered a wide array of issues in EB-5 law ? from the basics of the program to advising individual clients.
In addition to Yale-Loehr, Mark Ivener of Ivener and Fullmer and Kehrela Hodkinson of the Hodkinson Law Group joined moderator Bernard Wolfsdorf of the Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group in what has been described as an all-star panel of EB-5 attorneys.
The webinar began with Kehrela Hodkinson, who compared visa options for high net-worth clients. Focusing on the two employment-based visas most often used instead of EB-5 ? the E-2 and the L-1 ? Hodkinson's overview reminded listeners that EB-5, despite the current buzz surrounding it, is the best option for many clients, but not every client.
The L-1 visa, for example, is better for individuals who don't have $500,000 to $1 million to invest and are employed by a foreign company at the time of immigration.
17 kinds of EB-5 green card clients
While many clients' situations may be best suited for the L-1 or E-2, Mark Ivener believes attorneys should still bring up the EB-5 option.
According to Ivener, you never know when clients might be good candidates for EB-5. They could have inherited a substantial amount of money or their spouse might be in a position to give them enough money to qualify. "The money doesn't have to be yours," Ivener emphasized. You can qualify for EB-5 even if a relative gives you a million dollars.
He then outlined 17 kinds of clients for whom an EB-5 investor visa might be desirable. The following list of potential EB-5 candidates comes directly from the Powerpoint presentation that accompanied this webinar:
- Potential H-1B visa holders shut out by the quota
- H-1B visa holders nearing the six-year limit
- Investors from non-treaty countries or E-2 investors who don't qualify for the regular EB-5 or have an "aged-out" child
- Individual owners of a business outside the U.S. who don't qualify for an L-1
- Entrepreneurs who want to set up a new business in the U.S. that will not create 10 jobs
- Potential L-1 applicants who are nationals of China or Russia
- F-1 students who want to start a business
- Spouses of permanent residents
- Doctors who have not passed USMLE 1, 2 and 3
- Foreign nationals in a multiple-year immigrant quota waiting list
- CEO's or managers of companies who also are not L-1A transferees
- Parents who want their children to attend school in the U.S.
- Foreign nationals whose employer cannot or will not pay legal fees and advertising costs for a labor certification
- Graduates who cannot find a job but have money or have wealthy parents
- Nationals who need or want to leave their country
- Any foreign nationals with an urgent need or desire to become a permanent resident
Some EB-5 candidates less likely than others
Although wealthy retirees are among the more obvious clients for whom EB-5 is appropriate, several foreign nationals described in this list may seem less likely candidates for an EB-5 green card, at least at first glance.
Entrepreneurs who know that the business they wish to start in the U.S. is unlikely to create 10 jobs, for instance, still have the option of investing in a regional center. Recent college graduates with access to family money can take advantage of the regional center program as well.
As noted by Ivener, currently enrolled students could potentially invest their parents' money in a regional center and be permanent residents of the United States by the time they graduate.
The next installment of this series covers attorney commentary on the individual vs. regional center option and the importance of due diligence for the EB-5 immigrant investor. Click here to continue reading commentary from ABIL's EB-5 attorney presenters.