The Importance of Working With An EB-5 Immigration Lawyer

How An EB-5 Attorney Can Assist In Gaining Lawful Permanent Residence In The U.S.

Immigration Lawyers and the EB-5 Application Process

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was established in 1990 to stimulate the American economy by creating full-time jobs through foreign investment.

By injecting a minimum investment of $800,000 into a qualified new commercial enterprise (NCE), a foreign national can secure permanent residence for themselves and their family members, with the freedom to work, study, travel, or retire wherever they please in the United States.

Although it remains one of the fastest ways to permanent resident status, the EB-5 visa application for permanent residency can be a long and complicated process and is best accomplished with the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.

When looking to hire legal services, there are many options available. It is important to know exactly what a lawyer does and how foreign investors can find the best attorney for them.

The Role of An Immigration Lawyer

An EB-5 lawyer ensures that the application process with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reaches final approval with as few snags as possible along the way.

As a legal expert, they must stay informed on the most current EB-5 law practices, as their job involves intense collaboration with many foreign nationals, project developers, legal personnel, and EB-5 regional centers, as well as various government officials.

Most foreign entrepreneurs find that the time, effort, and know-how required to navigate their way to EB-5 visa approval are well worth the legal costs of hiring an attorney. Though not actually mandatory, the benefits of having legal counsel are numerous and basically vital to success.

How an Experienced EB-5 Attorney Can Help

An immigrant investor is permitted to go through the EB-5 visa application process without personal legal assistance, but they would need to be extremely confident in their understanding of the program requirements.

It is recommended to work with a lawyer who has experience not only with immigration law but specifically in the EB-5 sector, as it is a complex, ever-changing field that requires effort and constant study to stay up to date with the current laws and latest program reforms.

Responsibilities of the EB-5 Lawyer

Throughout the EB-5 process, an attorney is responsible for making sure the investor meets all USCIS visa requirements adequately and on time. As part of their numerous duties, they must

  • Assist the immigrant investor in evaluating how much capital they can afford for their EB-5 investment and what kind of project is best for their situation.
  • Ensure that fees are paid in full and forms are filed with the appropriate entities.
  • Coordinate the filing of requisite forms along a specific timeline.
  • Keep all financial documents complete and transparent, including adequate source-of-funds information. This is the most critical component for EB-5 petition approval.
  • Work closely with other experienced EB-5 professionals such as economists, business planners, and securities law attorneys to evaluate project progress.
  • Ensure strict compliance with all USCIS rules, regulations, and policies.
  • Perform due diligence to determine risk and preserve the initial EB-5 investment capital at little to no loss.
  • Address problems and resubmit all requisite forms in the event that the client’s petition is rejected.
  • Guide the immigrant investor through the naturalization process to U.S. citizenship if they so desire.
  • Maintain working knowledge of the field of EB-5 and immigration law by regularly attending related conferences and seminars.

An experienced lawyer will be able to effectively streamline the EB-5 visa process by carrying out many of the obligatory tasks and program requirements for the investor.

The Advantages of Hiring a Good Attorney

There are myriad of benefits that come with having competent legal counsel. A qualified EB-5 immigration attorney will be able to assist the foreign entrepreneur by:

  • Offering ready legal advice.
  • Clarifying program requirements.
  • Gathering and organizing financial documents, business plan reports, partnership agreements, and necessary signatures.
  • Interacting with legal, business, and government personnel on behalf of the client.
  • Supporting the investor through a complicated process.
  • Proactively addressing concerns before they arise.

Partnership Between Lawyer and Client

Much of the work the attorney does for their client depends on the type of project the latter decides to invest in. Once the investor decides on a suitable commercial enterprise, the lawyer gathers the required documentation and conducts business partnership meetings with the appropriate personnel.

An EB-5 attorney does a good amount of the actual groundwork with documenting, filing, and organizing the next moves. However, the client is always involved in any official decision-making and policy-related aspects of the business investment.

Access to Foreign Language Interpretation

Most EB-5 immigration attorneys are either versed in multiple foreign languages as part of their skill set or have business partnerships with others who are fluent in order to best serve immigrant investors who do not yet speak English at a fluent level. This is vital, as the smallest miscommunication can be detrimental to success.

If the investor does not speak English well or at all, it is highly advisable to find a lawyer who either speaks their native tongue or has access to ready translation at a moment’s notice.

This should be the very first qualification the investor looks for.

The EB-5 application for permanent U.S. residence is a multi-year process that requires sufficient financial and legal resources, exhaustive documentation, knowledge of program requirements, and attention to filing timelines.

The process is detailed and lengthy with stringent conditions, so it is always wise to consult an immigration lawyer before starting.

Main Steps of the EB-5 Program

There is a specific course of action that must be taken to effectively proceed through the visa application process. We recommend finding a capable immigration attorney right away, as they will have valuable advice to offer from the very beginning. After obtaining legal counsel, the main steps are as follows:

  • Select an eligible commercial enterprise in which to invest.
  • Obtain all necessary EB-5 investment capital and accompanying documentation.
  • Sign a subscription agreement with the NCE and any other partnerships.
  • Transfer the minimum investment funds to an escrow account to remain at risk for the entire length of EB5 investment.
  • File Form I-526, or Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, and all supporting papers with USCIS, which will then determine investor and project eligibility.
  • Upon approval, submit Form I-485, or Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status, to USCIS for conditional permanent residency.
  • If physically outside of the United States at the time of I-526 approval, submit Form DS-260, or Online Immigrant Visa Application.
  • Wait two years from the time that Forms I-485 and DS-260 are approved. Must remain physically present in the U.S. for at least half of that period.
  • No less than 90 days before the two-year period is up, file Form I-829, or Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.
  • Receive a ten-year renewable Green Card for legal permanent residence.
  • After a five-year period, the immigrant may apply for U.S. citizenship by submitting Form N-400, or Application for Naturalization.

An immigration attorney can help guide the foreign investor in an efficient and professional manner, so that nothing is missed and the immigrant’s EB-5 petition can be adjudicated in reasonable time.

Any potential setbacks can delay approval for months or sometimes even years, so it is best to plan accordingly and hire competent legal assistance from the start to prevent such delays.

How to Find the Right Lawyer For Each EB-5 Investor

The path to permanent U.S. residence is not short or simple for any foreign national, and along the way, they will be interacting on a regular basis with their personal EB-5 immigration attorney. It is important to find a lawyer who is a good fit in order to ensure long-term compatibility.

The investor must feel personally comfortable with their attorney in order to have the kind of functional partnership needed to succeed. It can be overwhelming trying to find an attorney with the assets needed to navigate the difficulties of the EB-5 application process, but there are resources to confidently do so.

What to Look for When Hiring Legal Counsel

Some fundamental things to look for that can make it easier to identify the appropriate legal help are the following.

  • Years of experience in the EB-5 industry.
  • Positive testimonials from previously represented clients.
  • High approval rates for past petitions.
  • Knowledge of foreign immigration practices in other countries.
  • Fluency in the immigrant’s native language.
  • Cultural understanding of the investor’s country of origin.
  • A strong grasp of immigrant investor program requirements and submission timelines.
  • Recommendations from other industry professionals in the legal community.

It is crucial that the EB-5 attorney be able to demonstrate expertise as well as a good track record with high success rates. The client must feel confident that their lawyer has the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to successfully complete the entire EB-5 application process.

Resources for Finding an EB-5 Attorney

Lawyers can offer EB-5 immigration services either exclusively or as part of a broader legal practice and may operate either independently or within the structure of a boutique or large law firm. When recruiting the help of a lawyer, it is best to find one who already has years of experience under their belt. Going through an immigration law firm has the added benefit of backup support from the entire experienced legal team.

Directory of American Immigration Lawyers

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has over 15,000 lawyers and attorneys who specialize in immigration services. This can be a valuable resource for finding dependable legal help. Many lawyers also offer free initial consultations, which is a wonderful way to meet and determine compatibility with the needs of the foreign investor.

Locating Qualified Legal Help Through Regional Centers

Regional centers operate in partnership with teams of legal professionals who are intimately familiar with the finer details of the EB-5 immigrant investor program. Even if an investor ultimately chooses not to invest through a regional center, they can still be an excellent source of information.

EB5 Affiliate Network (EB5AN) is one of the nation’s leading EB-5 organizations, operating 15 Regional centers and working with highly qualified lawyers on a daily basis. As such, EB5AN is able to recommend expert legal counsel that can assist with any investor’s specific situation. EB5AN may be reached for more information through its online portal.

The Overall Benefits of Legal Counsel

The importance of working with a lawyer cannot be understated for alien entrepreneurs who have decided to embark on their journey to U.S. permanent residence through an EB-5 investment. Having the support of an experienced attorney is invaluable and will ensure the lengthy process is conducted as smoothly as possible, as EB-5 program guidelines are complex and come with no guarantees.

A foreign national should look for an attorney with ample experience, an excellent record, and favorable recommendations from other industry professionals.

Having the freedom to live and work in the United States is a worthwhile goal for many EB-5 immigrant foreign investors, and with the right resources and legal help, a wholly achievable one.

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