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A Quick Q&A session on the EB-5 Program

Why invest in the U.S.?

The United States remains one of the world’s most dominant countries in terms of economic growth and standard of living. Most people wishing to relocate to the United States are keen on creating a better future for themselves and their families. There are many reasons as to why people immigrate to the U.S., including but not limited to a life of ample opportunities, a chance to live in a developed country, and easier access to what many refer to as the ‘American Dream’. Of the top five benefits of relocating to the U.S. include (1) access to the best healthcare system in the world, (2) access to the best academic institutions providing top quality education, (3) enjoyment of economic stability as the U.S. has the strongest economy in the world, (4) access to excellent career opportunities, and (5) the ability to travel to and enjoy different locations, with 50 different states in the country.

One of the main reasons applicants invest in the U.S. is for the benefit of their children in terms of unlocking the various education benefits that the programme provides. The U.S. provides the best quality of higher education in the world as evident by the fact that 16 out of the top 20 best universities are US institutions. As a green card holder, investors and their qualifying dependents will be considered as U.S. persons and thereby can take advantage of the same educational benefits as that of a U.S. citizen. In line with its public policy, the U.S. government endeavors to ensure that every student has access to education irrespective of their socioeconomic status. As such, the U.S. government provides student loans, grants, and scholarships to its students to ensure that they have the means to fulfill their studies.

How does the residency by investment programme work?

The United States EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme (known as the EB-5 programme) provides an opportunity for investors and their qualifying dependents to obtain U.S. permanent resident status with a minimum investment of $900,000 in the United States, which must create a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for US workers.

As the programme has a number of specific eligibility and filing requirements, it is highly recommended that foreign nationals seeking to invest via the EB-5 programme consult an advisor and seek their services in taking their application forward.

An advisor will assist in providing a number of investment options for the foreign national. Once a qualifying project is chosen, the investor will proceed with transferring the investment amount and required fees to the project. The advisor will simultaneously be working on collating the required documents from the investor and putting together the application to be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Washington, District of Columbia (DC). The application that will be submitted to Washington, DC is known as the I-526 petition. There are many intricacies involved in completing and submitting the I-526 petition and therefore the assistance of an experienced advisor is greatly valuable throughout this process. Especially from The Middle East, the applications look quite different as many jurisdictions operate under no income taxes or tax free altogether. These nuances that pertain specifically to The Middle East can confuse officers reviewing the petition in Washington D.C., thus certain templates and legal documents would need to be provided.

Once the investor’s I-526 approval comes through from Washington, DC, the investor will either apply for a visa from a U.S. consulate or embassy, such as the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, or apply for adjustment of status if they are already in the US at the time of I-526 approval. The investor will thereafter receive their green card and will be considered a US person.

What are the investment options?

Prospective investors participating in the EB-5 programme are required to invest a minimum of $900,000 in a new commercial enterprise (i.e., a project) that meets the requirements of the programme. Choosing the right project is not a task to be taken lightly by investors. As previously mentioned, USCIS had designated certain organisations, known as regional centres, to provide investors with investment opportunities and facilitate the funding of such EB-5 projects. As of November 3, 2020, there are 674 approved regional centres. At the American Legal Centre, we ensure to only work with the top six regional centres, which are those that have a track record of repaying their investors on time and have had thousands of green cards approved. Within the portfolios of the regional centres, our advisors conduct great due diligence in ensuring that all documentation is properly in place. With the recent effects of the pandemic, we generally do not recommend our clients to invest in the hospitality sector. As there has been a robust demand for residential sales in the U.S., and with the central bank and the Feds keeping the interest rates quite low and the reduction of the price for mortgages, we are currently advising our clients to invest in residential projects.

What makes the US programme competitive – i.e., versus other citizenship by investment programmes on offer?

While there are many different investment immigration programmes available, the U.S. EB-5 programme remains one of the most competitive given the flexibility that it provides. As compared to other programmes, such as the Quebec Investment Immigration Programme offered in Canada, the EB-5 programme does not require a minimum net worth from investors. Additionally, the US programme is more flexible as it does not require an offer of employment or family sponsorship, the investor does not need to have any specific educational or business background, the investor does not need to have a certain level of language skills, and an adult child may apply for the programme using funds gifted by their parents.

Why is now the right time?

With the shift in presidency taking place in January 2021, the time for investment and immigration to the U.S. is ripe. President-elect Joe Biden, unlike his predecessor, has always taken a pro-immigration stance and has announced that within his first 100 days in office, he will repeal the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries. Over the past few years, the travel ban has affected many investors in restricting them from their plans to invest in the U.S.

With Biden’s promise of the travel ban being lifted in the first quarter of 2021, these foreign nationals will no longer be restricted and as such, this is the right time for them to start their EB-5 application process and start their migration journey to the U.S.

What impact has the new presidency had on this programme? i.e., how will upcoming policy changes make investment options favourable – and to which parties?

Lifting the travel ban is the most anticipated immigration policy change the world is waiting for from the U.S. It has been a tumultuous four years for U.S. immigration and Joe Biden’s promise to lift the travel ban in his first 100 days in office is the steadiness we have been waiting for. It is the first change needed to indicate a move in a positive direction for the U.S.

In war torn countries such as Syria and Iraq, citizens are reliant on countries such as the U.S. for refuge. People flee their countries in hopes of obtaining protection and in pursuit of a higher standard of living than the one currently available to them in their countries. The travel ban prevents the ability for people to seek asylum or refuge. President-elect Biden has promised a number of positive changes to the immigration landscape of the US.

We are a team of U.S. licensed lawyers who specialize in the EB-5 program. We have been in the immigration industry for over 7 years, assisting families obtain their U.S. green card and residency from the GCC region. Our company the American Legal Center, operates out of Dubai, United Arab Emirates and is ready to assist you start your journey. Contact us today

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