Finding the right attorney is crucial for immigration success through the EB-5 visa program.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a popular way for foreign investors to obtain permanent residency in the United States.
Obtaining an EB 5 visa however, is a complex process and requires careful planning and compliance with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements.
To achieve a successful outcome, the services of an immigration attorney throughout the process, will be invaluable.
In this article, we provide an overview of the requirements for EB-5 immigrant investors and explain how to choose the best EB-5 attorney.
Overview of Requirements for EB-5 Immigrant investors
EB 5 investors are required to invest at least $800,000 into a qualifying new commercial enterprise.
The new commercial enterprise must then use the EB 5 funds for job creation purposes and at least 10 jobs must be created for U.S. workers.
In addition, the EB 5 funding must remain invested in the commercial enterprise for a specified period.
In the EB 5 industry, a new commercial enterprise usually works with a regional center. An EB-5 regional center oversees the flow of EB-5 capital invested into each new commercial enterprise.
As EB-5 investors who work with a regional center have more flexible job creation criteria, most investors choose to work with a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center.
Regional center sponsorship allows investors to calculate job creation based on the enterprise’s construction expenditures.
In this way, econometric modeling makes it significantly easier to meet the job creation requirement.
Moreover, working with a regional center allows commercial enterprises to pool funds from more than one EB-5 investor.
EB-5 offerings without regional center sponsorship can accept funds from only one immigrant investor.
In addition to this, EB-5 investors can invest $800,000 only if the new commercial enterprise is located within a targeted employment area (TEA).
An EB-5 investor in a commercial enterprise outside a targeted employment area must invest a higher amount: at least $1,050,000.
A targeted employment area is either rural or has high unemployment. Most EB-5 investments sponsored by a regional center are located in targeted employment areas.
The Importance of a Reliable EB-5 Attorney
One of the most critical aspects of the EB-5 process is demonstrating the source of funds used for the investment.
The USCIS requires that the funds used for the investment be obtained legally.
Failure to provide evidence of lawful funds can lead to the denial of the investor’s I-526E application. (Form I-526E is the initial petition for a conditional EB-5 Green Card. The conditions on an EB-5 investor’s Green Card are later removed through Form I-829.)
Therefore, it is essential to work with a competent EB-5 immigration attorney who can help you navigate the complex requirements of the EB-5 visa program.
While many immigration attorneys may claim to be able to help you compile Form I-526E and guide you through the EB-5 visa process, not all EB-5 attorneys are reliable.
In large part, your chances of immigrating successfully through the EB-5 program depend on working with a competent EB-5 visa attorney who can help you prepare the source-of-funds documentation and other sections of Form I-526E.
Even if you make a successful investment in a U.S. commercial enterprise, an attorney’s guidance in preparing the I-526E and I-829 petitions will be essential.
What to Look for in an EB-5 Visa Attorney
The following criteria will help you find the most reliable attorneys in the EB-5 field. Always do careful due diligence on potential attorneys, even if they come from a leading law firm.
The EB-5 visa program is unique, and the requirements are different from other visa programs. Therefore, it is crucial to choose an EB-5 attorney who has specific experience in the EB-5 program.
You want to work with an EB-5 visa attorney who has been practicing in this area for at least five years. This way, you can be confident that the EB-5 attorney has handled numerous cases similar to yours and has a good track record of success.
Always find out how many I-526E approvals a potential EB-5 attorney has facilitated in the past. Any denials or no approvals would be a major red flag.
EB-5 immigration law involves complex regulations, and the attorney you choose should have a thorough understanding of the law, regulations, and USCIS requirements.
You also want to work with an EB-5 visa attorney who understands that the EB-5 visa process is less a practice of law and more of an accounting exercise, where the bulk of the work involves proving the legal source of funds.
This part of Form I-526E is the reason for most USCIS denials.
The attorney must have experience reviewing and analyzing the investor’s financial documents to determine the legality of the funds.
Source of Funds
The source of funds documentation is perhaps the most challenging section of Form I-526E.
The USCIS requires that the funds used for the investment come from legal sources, and the legality of the funds must be proved with a “preponderance of the evidence.”
The EB-5 attorney you choose must have experience in helping investors demonstrate the legality of their funds.
If your funds were earned in the U.S. and you have tax returns and bank statements to show the source of the funds, almost any EB-5 attorney can help you prepare your application.
Proving that these funds were sourced legally will be more straightforward.
However, if your funds come from overseas, such as China or India, you need an EB-5 visa attorney who has extensive experience with the documents and sources from those countries.
This is because the regulations and requirements for proving the legality of funds can differ depending on the country.
A competent EB-5 visa attorney will know how to navigate the intricacies of these regulations and requirements and help you prepare a successful EB-5 application.
As each country’s financial documentation differs, choose an EB-5 attorney who has already worked with investors from your country and helped them gain approval for Form I-526E.
The EB-5 visa application process can be lengthy and complicated, and you want to work with an EB-5 visa attorney who is responsive and communicative throughout the immigration timeline.
You want to choose an attorney who will be available to answer your questions promptly and keep you informed of the progress of your case.
A good EB-5 attorney should also be able to respond to your inquiries, and perhaps even provide updates on weekends or holidays.
You can evaluate an attorney’s responsiveness by scheduling an initial consultation with them.
During the consultation, ask them about their communication policy and how they plan to keep you updated throughout the process.
You can also ask for references from their previous clients and ask them about their experience with the attorney’s responsiveness.
Lorrie, who is originally from the Philippines, recommends that you choose an immigration attorney who is highly responsive, which she found EB5AN to be.
It is essential to choose an attorney who will handle your case directly.
An immigration law firm may outsource work to other lawyers or paralegals who may not have the same level of experience or expertise.
This can result in a lower quality of work and may increase the risk of errors or omissions in your I-526E petition.
Working directly with an experienced attorney means that you will have the benefit of their knowledge and experience throughout the entire process.
You will also have a better understanding of the process and be able to ask questions and receive feedback.
As touched upon above, a good way to evaluate the competence of an immigration attorney is to look at their track record.
You want an attorney who has a proven track record of success in handling EB-5 cases.
It’s important to ask potential attorneys for references or testimonials from previous clients.
You can also check online reviews and ratings on sites like Avvo.com or Google Reviews. Look for an attorney with a high rating and positive reviews from satisfied clients.
However, keep in mind that online reviews are not always reliable, so it’s important to do your due diligence and ask for references from real people you can talk to.
You also want to make sure your EB-5 visa attorney has worked with credible EB-5 regional centers.
- What is the reputation of the regional centers your attorney’s clients have worked with?
- Were these regional centers in good standing with USCIS when your attorney worked with them?
If the regional centers an attorney has worked with are facing USCIS sanctions or major litigation, this should be another red flag.
Since the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 introduced strict new requirements for operating a regional center, this aspect of your research will also be important.
A regional center that fails to comply with USCIS requirements regarding transparency and accounting may lose its regional center designation.
In summary, avoid attorneys with a history of I-526E denials, credible negative reviews, or who have worked with a dubious regional center.
Starting the EB-5 Immigration Process
Applying for an EB-5 immigrant investor visa is a complex and challenging process that requires careful planning, due diligence, and expert legal advice.
To maximize your chances of success, it’s important to find a good EB-5 attorney who has specific experience in handling EB-5 cases, a thorough understanding of the source of funds requirement and other criteria, and a proven track record of success.
By taking the time to research and evaluate potential attorneys, you can find an EB-5 attorney who can help guide you through the entire EB-5 application process and give you the best chance of achieving your goals.
Remember, the EB-5 immigrant investor visa is a substantial investment of both time and money. In fact, the minimum amount is $800,000).
It is therefore important to do your due diligence in finding an EB-5 attorney who can help you make informed decisions and achieve your immigration goals.
With the right EB-5 attorney by your side, you can navigate the complexities of the EB-5 program and move closer to realizing your dream of becoming a permanent resident of the United States.
To connect with the most experienced and successful attorneys in the EB-5 field, schedule a free consultation with EB5AN.