By: Kyle J. Barella, Esq.
Despite past scandal and a tarnished reputation among certain American politicians, the EB-5 investor visa remains an attractive and successful path for obtaining US permanent residency (Green Card).
The often negative press surrounding the EB-5 visa is underserved, as it focuses solely on corrupt project developers, greedy foreign agents, and incompetent immigration lawyers. It fails to highlight the success stories (which are many) and the contributions EB-5 investors make to US culture, and more importantly, the US economy.
The EB-5 program allows high-net-worth individuals the opportunity to obtain a Green Card in exchange for a large investment in a US business which must create (or save) ten (10) full-time jobs for US citizens (or those authorised to work in the US). The current investment is set at $1 million USD, which may be reduced to $500,000 USD for investments located in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs).
Who qualifies for the EB-5 visa program?
The advantage of the EB-5 visa scheme is that there are no educational or language requirements. One needs no familial ties in the United States and does not require a job offer from a US company. In addition to being of good moral character (clean law enforcement history), an investor must simply be able to meet the minimum investment amount.
When consulting with a potential EB-5 client, our firm performs an assessment to ensure the investor qualifies for their selected EB-5 project. In addition to our assessment, we ensure the potential client has a realistic view of the EB-5 program. We often advise that the EB-5 investment is not a ‘get rich’ type of investment. In fact, the return on investment (ROI) is usually quite low. We recommend potential investors keep in mind the three goals of the EB-5 visa program, as outlined by Barella Global.
The first goal is to obtain the Green Card (US permanent resident status).
The second goal is to recoup the initial capital contribution (i.e. $500,000 USD in the case of a Regional Center investment).
Finally, the third goal would be to make a little money off the investment if at all possible.
A successful EB-5 investment in the opinion of our firm is one where the investor obtains their Green Card and eventually recoups their initial investment. In this instance, the investor has essentially immigrated to the United States for next to nothing.
Who should avoid the EB-5 visa?
Unfortunately, the EB-5 visa is not a suitable option for everyone considering immigration to the United States. Potential EB-5 investors who would be spending a significant amount of their net-worth to fund the investment should be cautious about proceeding down the EB-5 path.
Like with any investment, there is always risk involved. In fact, one of the rules regulating the EB-5 program strictly forbids guaranteed investments.
Nevertheless, clients who will be spending a large amount of their savings to proceed with the visa can successfully obtain their Green Card if they are fully informed and knowledgable about the EB-5 program and the individual project they choose to invest in. We always advise potential investors speak with an EB-5 lawyer before reaching out to EB-5 projects or Regional Centers independently.
How much can I expect to spend?
How much money an investor typically spends depends on whether they proceed with a Regional Center investment or a Direct EB-5 investment. The below figures account for a standard Regional Center EB-5 investment (by far the most popular route utilised by investors).
EB-5 capital contribution = $500,000 USD
EB-5 project administration fee = $30,000 USD - $50,000 USD
EB-5 government filing fees = $3,675 USD
Embassy Fees = $500 USD
EB-5 Lawyer Professional Fee = $15,000 USD - $25,000 USD
Approximate Total Cost = $549,175 USD - $579,175 USD
Why is the negative EB-5 reputation undeserved?
As mentioned above, the vast majority of media outlets only focus on the scandal caused by corrupt projects and inexperienced lawyers. The vast majority of EB-5 cases process successfully through USCIS. Unfortunately, as is typical with any industry, a few ‘bad apples’ cast a negative light over the overwhelming successful EB-5 industry.
The real truth about EB-5 investors and their family is that they contribute tremendously to the US economy. Not only is their investment required to create employment for ten (10) workers, they often end up establishing additional businesses in the United States which produce more jobs. EB-5 investors also contribute through paying taxes, purchasing real estate and consumer goods, all of which benefit the United States. EB-5 investors are the type of immigrants the US wants and needs.
The Barella Global Advantage
I founded Barella Global with a focus on assisting EB-5 investors in their dream of achieving US permanent residency. Prior to my work as Managing Attorney of the firm, I worked for a prominent London based US immigration firm where I was the lead EB-5 counsel. Additionally, I previously served as External General Counsel for a successful EB-5 investment advisory firm. We have a great deal of experience assisting EB-5 investors and provide concierge style service to our investor clientele.
We are the only US immigration firm in Europe with a dedicated EB-5 website. We assist high-net-worth investors throughout Europe. We maintain offices in London and Brussels to work conveniently with our clients in their timezone.
To learn more about the EB-5 visa program and how Barella Global can assist you, contact our London or Brussels office to arrange a consultation. Additional information may be found on our firm’s website, www.barellalaw.com or our dedicated EB-5 website, www.eb5investmentlaw.com.