My name is Ram, an Indian national and a software engineer by profession. I embarked on the journey of the EB-5 investment program, a path that led me to invest in the Twin Lakes rural EB-5 project. Here is my story.
Switching from the EB-2 to EB-5 Visa Path
I first came to the United States on an F-1 visa to pursue graduate school, and after earning my master’s degree, I secured a job in the U.S. My employer sponsored my H-1B visa, and I’ve been living and working here for about a decade. In May 2017, my employer also sponsored my Green Card through the EB-2 employment category. However, I’ve been stuck in the EB-2 queue waiting for my Green Card ever since.
My journey towards permanent residency in the U.S. took a significant turn during the pandemic. I noticed the EB-2 numbers moving forward in the Visa Bulletin, which prompted me to investigate when my number would come up in the EB-2 category. I was trying to make sense of the supply and demand—supply being the number of visas issued for EB-2 Indian nationals, and demand being the number of people applying for EB-2 visas from India.
My research revealed that pre-COVID, USCIS approved about 7,000 applicants in 2015, but the numbers started to decline, with only about 2,500 applicants approved in 2020. I also discovered that each year, around 30,000 applicants have their I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) approved for Indian nationals. However, due to the backlog, many people, including myself, are stuck with approved I-140 applications but no Green Card.
The situation became even more complicated when I realized that dependents also count towards the numbers in the visa category. After accounting for dependents and subtracting 20% to account for duplicates and people who abandon their I-140 applications, I estimated that as of December 31, 2021, there were about 440,000 people who had their I-140s approved. This gave me a rough idea of the demand.
When I put these numbers together, I realized that even in the best-case scenario, I would be waiting for about 20 to 35 years to get a Green Card through the EB-2 queue.
This was a daunting prospect, considering the restrictions on employment and travel that come with the H-1B visa, not to mention the constant stress about maintaining legal status in the U.S.
By late 2022, the tech layoffs made me eager to explore other legal pathways to a Green Card. After researching, I found that the EB-5 investor visa program was the most suitable option for me. The EB-5 program allows for international travel with advanced parole and the ability to adjust status once you file, which would take some pressure off in terms of layoffs and the ability to switch jobs.
I spent most of 2022 researching EB-5 online. There were hundreds of EB-5 projects out there, but I had to spend time understanding the specific immigration rules for EB-5 and trying to figure out what best suited my scenario. The two main decision-making areas as an EB-5 investor were finding the right immigration attorney and the right regional center or project to work with.
Choosing an Immigration Attorney
I decided to go with a smaller firm for my EB-5 immigration process. I wanted an attorney who could dedicate their time to me and guide me through the application filing process. I found Anahita through one of the EB5AN webinars and decided to work with her. She was able to walk me clearly through the EB-5 process, which helped me pick the right attorney.
Once I had decided on an attorney, I started assembling the necessary documents. I had already started collecting the source of funds in late 2022, so I was ready to go when the time came to sign onto a project. From the day I made contact with Anahita, we were able to file within two weeks.
The process was intense, but I had done a lot of groundwork in anticipation of the application. I had started collecting the source of funds and had narrowed down to a handful of projects that I was considering. Anahita was instrumental in helping me understand the process and guide me through collecting the right set of documents. Our filing was a hefty one, close to over 6,000 pages. Anahita’s expertise and constant communication throughout those two weeks sped up our filing process and gave me confidence in the application we were submitting to USCIS.
I wanted an attorney who had processed hundreds of EB-5 applications and who could guide me through the process. I found that in Anahita. Her understanding of my case, her guidance in collecting the right documents, and her constant communication throughout the process made the filing process smoother and faster.
Choosing EB5AN’s Twin Lakes Project
I began by researching all the projects I could find online, with a preference for regional centers that had at least a decade of experience and had completed the EB-5 process from start to finish. This criterion narrowed down my options to a handful of regional centers.
As an Indian national, I specifically sought a rural project to avoid being stuck in the EB-5 queue. Evaluating the projects was a challenge, given my background as a software engineer and limited financial skills. I read through the subscription documents for each project, trying to make sense of them and assess the associated risks. This process helped me narrow down my options to a few projects that fit my specific requirements.
Among these, the Twin Lakes project, sponsored by EB5AN and developed by Kolter, stood out. I sought more information about this project, asking questions about the subscription agreement and other details. This process of inquiry and clarification led me to choose the Twin Lakes project.
Several factors influenced my decision. Firstly, Twin Lakes is a real estate investment, specifically a single-family home community. The development of this community is demand-driven, meaning new homes are built as the demand arises. This approach appealed to me more than projects where construction is completed all at once, and then the supply-demand equation is considered.
Secondly, the project had a senior loan funded by a lender with significant financial strength. This was important to me because, as an individual investor, I lacked the ability to scrutinize the project to the same extent. The presence of a senior lender indicated that the project had already undergone rigorous scrutiny and had been deemed worthy of investment.
The job creation aspect of the project was another crucial factor. I was more comfortable with projects that were already in progress and had met the job requirements. This preference was based on my decade-long immigration journey and the desire to select projects where the immigration benefit was already met. This removed one of the risk components in the project, leaving me to focus on the risk variables related to project completion and the possibility of our funds being returned.
Immigrating Faster Through a Rural EB-5 Project
Despite India’s current status for both rural and non-rural projects, I still preferred a rural project. Having been through the EB-2 queue, I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake with EB-5. The introduction of the rural category in the new law of 2022, which had been live for about six months, gave me confidence that even if there was a queue, there was a specific set aside visa number for the rural category.
General Guidelines for EB-5 Investors
My advice to other investors considering the EB-5 investment program is to focus on finding the right immigration attorney and the right project that fits your specific case and risk comfort level. Ask clarifying questions about the projects, compare variables between them, and understand the potential risks and returns.
In terms of financial return, I understood that the funds are to be at risk as per USCIS requirements. I evaluated the projects based on the probability of success, the supply and demand side, and the likelihood of the funds being returned.
I would definitely recommend EB5AN to other investors considering EB-5. Their detailed documents, quick responses, and educational videos were invaluable in my journey. I would also recommend my immigration attorney, Anahita, who took the time to understand my specific case and worked with me throughout the process.
The EB-5 journey is a complex one, filled with numerous decisions and considerations. For me, it was about finding a project that not only met my financial and immigration needs but also aligned with my risk profile. The Twin Lakes project, with its demand-driven development, senior loan, and job creation potential, was the perfect fit.
In the end, the EB-5 investment process is about more than just obtaining a Green Card. It’s about investing in a project that you believe in, one that aligns with your values and risk tolerance. For me, that project was Twin Lakes, and I am grateful for the journey that led me there.