By H. Raymond Fasano, Esq. and Christina Xenides, Esq.
Recently our Senior Associate, Christina Xenides, Esq., attended a multi-day continuing legal education conference presented by the American Immigration Lawyers' Association in Chicago. Christina's attendance put her in contact with the leading policy makers in the program and she benefited from attending classes that made her aware and alert about the latest trends in the EB-5 Program. Christina will discuss her experience in the balance of this article:
It was my pleasure to represent Youman, Madeo, and Fasano at the 2014 AILA EB-5 Investors and Regional Centers Conference in Chicago last weekend. The two day conference provided a comprehensive analysis of the entire EB-5 process, from practical "how to" tutorials to detailed discussions of cutting-edge issues. I attended over a dozen different panels on various topics which were led by renowned EB-5 attorneys and featured economists as well as securities lawyers.
For some background, the EB-5 visa category was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a pilot immigration program first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors in Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.
All EB-5 investors must invest $1 million USD (or $500,000 USD if the investment is in a rural or high-unemployment area) in a new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise that is established after Nov. 29, 1990. The investment in a new commercial enterprise must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years (or under certain circumstances, within a reasonable time after the two-year period) of the immigrant investor's admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident.
Potential EB-5 candidates should expect the entire process to take about five to seven years and must have a minimum of $500,000 USD of legally obtained and traceable money to invest. It is important to know that the investment is at risk meaning that there is a potential to make or lose money and there is no guaranteed return on the initial investment.
USCIS has centralized the processing of these applications in Washington, DC and hired experts to oversee specialized aspects such as economics, financial transactions, fraud, and national security. The EB-5 investor program is the only visa program for investors that leads to permanent residence and has become a more reliable manner for foreign investors to obtain U.S. residency with a current approval rate of 77%.
Mr. Charles Oppenheim, the Chief Officer for Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting at the U.S. Department of State, spoke on the panel about issues specific to China. He announced at the conference that, for the first time ever in the 25 year history of the EB-5 program, the cap for EB-5 investors from China had been reached for fiscal year 2014 (investors from other countries are not affected by the cap at this time). There is a 10,000 cap on EB-5 visas each year. This includes the allotment for derivatives (spouses and children under 21) of the primary investor.
Overall, the conference was a great opportunity to network with and learn from some of the most experienced attorneys practicing in this area of immigration law. Youman, Madeo & Fasano is eager to assist its clients in this growing and important area of immigration law.