EB-5 visas are sought by HNIs seeking permanent residency in US Romita Majumdar | Mumbai | February 28 us-immigration-fund America’s leading EB-5 Regional Center, US Immigration Fund (USIF), is encouraging Indians to apply for their EB-5 visas as early as possible given a possible change to the EB-5 program later this year and a tightening of other visa categories.

 “The requirements to be a qualified investor include one million dollars of net worth and a legitimate source of funds for the principal investment. The EB-5 Program could be expected to receive significant legislative changes by March 23, 2018. Now is the time to invest at the lower investment amount,” said Andrew Graves, the head of USIF’s India Operations.

 The US Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to enable high net worth foreign investors to obtain a US visa for the investor and their immediate family by investing a minimum of $500,000 (Rs 32.6 million) in a US business that will benefit the economy by creating a minimum of 10 permanent US jobs.

 EB-5 has been under congressional review in the US and the investment amounts are expected to increase. According to the National Law review (US), there is a proposal to increase the minimum investment amount to $925,000 for projects in the new definition of targeted employment areas and increase all other projects by another $25,000 to more than $1 million.

 The EB-5 visa enables students and families to acquire a permanent US Green Card in a shorter time than H1-B, EB 1A/B/C, EB-2, and EB-3visa holders. In addition, the EB-5 visa allows students and immediate family members to obtain conditional US residency within 16-18 months, which can potentially give them access to lower in-state tuition rates and higher acceptance rates for prominent universities around the country.

 An immigration analyst, who did not wish to be quoted, said that even as Indian professionals aiming to work in US struggle to make sense of H1B regulations, it is highly unlikely that they will go for EB5 visas instead as the minimum investment amount itself is unaffordable for most applicants and it remains a preserve of high net worth individuals (HNIs).

 Shan Chopra, Managing Partner of The Chopras Group and partner of USIF notes, “A large number of our initial clients have done this purely to obtain access to the United States, not necessarily to migrate to the U.S."

 The EB-5 Program was seldom used until the global financial crisis in 2008-09 where many real estate developers looked for alternative sources of cheaper capital. Per USCIS data, Indian EB-5 visa applicants have consistently increased in recent years with 174 petitions filed in 2017, a 57 per cent increase from 2015.

 USIF plays a key role in the EB-5 process. The investment firm pools EB-5 capital from individuals and invests the pooled capital in highly qualified EB-5 projects in real estate with leading developers from New York City, New Jersey, California and Florida.

“EB5 applicants may include those settled in Middle east or students of wealthy Indians’ (parents) who do not wish to come back to India post studies or in some cases, IT professionals who are not able to get extension on their H-1 or L-1 applications,” said Ajay Sharma, President Abhinav Outsourcing, a visa consultancy firm. He added that while the program has been receiving lots of coverage since last one year, fact is that high interest from India is not getting converted into higher number of filed EB5 applications.

 USIF holds the exclusive rights for raising and investing EB-5 capital for several large-scale residential and commercial real estate projects. USIF’s 24 EB-5 projects will total roughly 18,000 EB-5 green cards arising from 6,000 investors and their families, numbers unmatched within the EB-5 industry.

 The number of USIF Indian investors quadrupled from 2016 to 2017 and the number of investors in 2018 is expected to increase to more than 200 given that the investment amount does not change said USIF .

 

Last year, the DHS accelerated its rule making schedule to adopt proposed new regulations on the EB-5 regional center program in February of 2018. The new EB-5 regulations increase minimum investment amounts, centralize TEA designations at DHS and allow for certain EB-5 petitioners to retain their original priority date should they decide to re-file their EB-5 petition.

When an agency publishes a final rule, the rule is generally effective no less than thirty days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. If the rule is a “significant” or “major” rule, as defined by law, then the rule is required to have a 60-day delayed effective date. A “significant rule”, as defined by Executive Order 12866, is any regulatory action that is likely to result in a rule that may “have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities.”

Based on the content of the new EB-5 regulation, it is likely that there will be a 60-day grace period if the final EB-5 regulation is actually published in February before the final regulation will take effect. This grace period may provide Congress with additional time to reach consensus on future reforms to the EB-5 Regional Center Program.

 
As negotiations on Capitol Hill continue to reach agreement on a bill to fund operations of the U.S. federal government, many wonder whether U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will shut down. USCIS continues to operate even if the other agencies of the U.S. federal government experience a shut-down. This situation occurs because USCIS is a fee-funded agency, meaning that the fees for its operations arise primarily from fees collected from applicants. 

Washington, D.C. – January 19, 2018: As negotiations on Capitol Hill continue to reach agreement on a bill to fund operations of the U.S. federal government, employers and immigrants are frequently anxious about whether U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will also shut-down.

The short answer to this concern is “no”, USCIS continues to operate even if the other agencies of the U.S. federal government experience a shut-down. This quirky situation occurs because USCIS is a fee-funded agency, meaning that the fees for its operations arise primarily from fees collected from applicants. Additionally, many functions of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection) are also considered essential government services that are required to remain operational even if there is a shut-down. So, in the past, the USCIS has actually remained open for business during a government shut-down. The U.S. Department of Labor, however, is not so lucky: it has to shutter operations for lack of funding.

Readers from abroad may ask themselves: “How many times has the U.S. federal government shut down because of disagreement over funding?”. The answer to this question would require a much longer response than available in this report.

Negotiations continue with most observers expecting an agreement to keep the U.S. federal government operating through mid-February or mid-March of 2018.

I.A. Donoso & Associates, LLC, is a law firm based in Washington, D.C., and is recognized as a leading immigration law firm with recognized expertise in visas for EB-5 investors, professionals and academics.

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USIF aims to help 250 Indian investors immigrate to the United States through the EB-5 program by raising USD 125 million in foreign investment from India over the next 15 months.
US Immigration Fund (USIF), an American foreign direct investment firm in the business of raising EB-5 capital, has said they aim to help 250 Indian investors immigrate to the United States through the EB-5 program by raising USD 125 million in foreign investment from India over the next 15 months. Funds raised from investors will be deployed in various current and upcoming commercial and residential real estate projects by leading developers and backed by prominent senior lenders. The company, in association with education firm The Chopras Group, said the capital is being raised for investments in key real estate projects across the United States as part of the EB-5 visa program which facilitates foreign investors to obtain a US visa for them and their family. The EB-5 Program was created by the US Congress in 1990 to enable high net worth Foreign Investors to obtain a US visa for themselves and their immediate family by investing a minimum of USD 500,000 in a US business that will benefit the economy and create 10 jobs for American workers. As per data available from the Department of State and USICS, while 65,992 I-526 approvals were received for the period 1991-2016, more than 60 percent of approvals have come since 2014. Previous USIF projects have been backed by major financial institutions including Blackrock, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan. USIF and The Chopras expect to secure 200 investors through 2018 having seen significant demand since the launch of the partnership in late September 2017. USIF has been actively working in the market since the beginning of 2017 and expects to raise USD 50 million by year-end. EB-5 visas for Indians have steadily increased over the last few years with 76 Indian EB-5 visas issued in 2012 to 149 visas issued in 2016. “Our partnership with the Chopras has allowed us to grow exponentially over the last six weeks and gives us the confidence to move forward and set clear milestones for ourselves for the next 12-15 months. Our intent is to gain majority market share in EB-5 capital raised from India and we strongly believe this can be accomplished as the market is expected to grow significantly. The Chopras’ credibility is an asset for us and truly provides assurances and comfort to our EB-5 investor families as they embark on what could otherwise be a very complex and difficult journey. The Chopras’ impeccable reputation, breadth and depth of service offerings, and longstanding history throughout India will allow us to reach families across the country enabling us to better assist them with immigration aspirations for themselves and their children,” said Nicholas A Mastroianni II, Chairman and CEO of US Immigration Fund. The Chopras have supported USIF in building a large platform for EB-5 and establishing a dedicated infrastructure for the offering across all their 26 offices in major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ludhiana. These operations will include investor relations and backend operations to support and educate investors through the entire EB-5 process. To date, investor interest and investment has primarily come from Delhi and Mumbai. However, following direct outreach and investor education programs undertaken by The Chopras and USIF, strong interest from regions like Punjab, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad has surfaced.