The Immigrant Investor Program, also known as EB-5, is set to expire on September 30th as Congress continues to debate its merits. The EB-5 program enables foreigners to obtain legal permanent residency in the US through investment in a new commercial enterprise. Although the program brings almost $2 billion into the US annually, it has been subject to ongoing criticism. Changes to the bill have been proposed to reauthorize EB-5 so foreign investors should be prepared. We’ll analyze the changes as soon as they are passed. But why are changes being made to such a successful program in the first place?
EB-5 visas have been very effective in bringing in investment capital particularly since the 2008 financial crisis. As banks tightened lending, the investor program became the best way for a startup to obtain capital. In 2001 there were fewer than 200 EB-5 visas issued, but in 2014 there were nearly 10,000 issued.
The $2 billion in investment capital the program brings into the US annually does not account for the indirect money the program brings into the US economy. The foreign investors who enter the US with an EB-5 visa are not living in a vacuum. These individuals spend money in US stores; they buy or rent homes; they pay for services from US companies; and they pay taxes to local, state, and federal government. The program injects an extraordinary amount of money into the US economy.
So why the criticism? The EB-5 program should be the least offensive of the US immigration policy. US immigration policy costs the taxpayers billions of dollars in enforcement. The EB-5 program is generating revenue rather than creating debt. Moreover, opponents of opening US borders to immigrants by and large base their opposition on how doing so would flood the labor market, potentially lower wages, and take jobs away from US citizens. The EB-5 program is doing the exact opposite by creating jobs for US citizens.
Nonetheless, there are valid concerns about the program particularly problems of fraud that need to be rectified. Currently the SEC can step in when there are issues of fraud in an EB-5 investment. However, by the time the fraud is discovered there is nothing left for the SEC to do but clean up the mess. New proposed regulations would allow the SEC to regulate the investment process so they may actually prevent the mess from occurring in the first place. Regional Centers are also likely to be held more accountable for making financial disclosures and complying with securities laws. We welcome rules to protect against investment scams and corruption; however, these rules are likely to add complexity to the process and investors will need guidance navigating the new rules.
While the proposed changes will make the EB-5 program much more transparent, it will not change one of the program’s most glaring criticisms. Some argue the EB-5 program allows the wealthy to buy their spot at the front of the line.
It is true that the EB-5 program allows wealthy immigrants a faster route to legal status in the US. However, it is misleading to say that these foreign investors are cutting the line for a visa. The EB-5 program has visas set aside for these investors so they are not taking away a visa from someone who is already waiting.
It may seem unfair that the EB-5 program discriminates against the poor who cannot afford to participate. However, the immigration policies of the US have always been inherently unfair since the US first entered the business of controlling the movement of people. The entire concept of citizenship and the foundation of US immigration policy are rooted in discrimination against people born in certain geographic locations. Other paths to citizenship in the US are based on completely arbitrary factors such as whether there is a family member in the US, whether documents were filed a document before a particular date, whether a foreigner falls in love with a US citizen, and in many cases which Immigration Judge is assigned to a case. There is nothing “fair” about immigration laws.
US immigration policy is deserving of criticism. The US immigration system is a disaster. However, the EB-5 program is one of the very few examples where Congress got it right.
Although there will be changes to the rules, we expect EB-5 to be reauthorized. Contact us for the latest updates on the Immigrant Investor Program.
If you entered the United States without visa and are working here without legal documentation, your employer may be able to help you. But it’s important to understand that just because your employer wants to help doesn’t mean you will be able to obtain a green card. The process for obtaining a green card is complicated and depends on many factors, including your prior history (and your family’s prior history) in the United States. So it’s good that your employer wants to help but the first step is to call us for an interview so we can understand more about your situation.
A work permit is a common way of referring to an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is issued by the Immigration Service (which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Under U.S. law, you need a work permit or EAD in order to become a legal employee of a U.S. company. Many lawyers will promise to get you a work permit, but you have to be careful about this. The catch is that you can’t simply apply for a work permit or EAD in itself. In order to apply for a work permit you have to make an application for legal status in this country on some other basis. Don’t believe any other lawyer or person who tells you it’s an easy thing to get a work permit. Call us for an interview and we can explain to you how the process and immigration laws in the United States really work.
As a result of the injunction issued by the District Court in Texas, applications for the expanded DACA program and DAPA are currently on hold. The Department of Homeland Security is not currently accepting requests for the expansion of DACA, as originally planned. Until further notice, it has suspended the plan to accept requests for DAPA.
The Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012. This ruling only delays the start of DAPA and the expansion of DACA.
It’s important that you speak with a qualified attorney who can explain all the options and issues relating to your immigration status. Do not take advice about your immigration case from a notary public or an immigration consultant. The U.S. immigration laws and rules are very complicated and many people take advantage of undocumented immigrants, making promises and charging money without providing honest advice. Contact only a qualified immigration lawyer for legal advice about your case. If you encounter 'notarios' who offer legal advice without a license, report it.
You can begin preparing now! Even though DHS is not currently accepting applications under DAPA or the expanded DACA programs, individuals who are potentially eligible for Deferred Action status should begin preparing their applications now. It is very likely that the Texas decision will be overturned and there will probably be a rush of applicants when that happens. Individuals should be ready with their applications and start now by gathering the necessary documentation and seeking good counsel to give themselves the best chance for success and to avoid potential problems.
If you are a U.S. citizen or have a Green Card, then yes, you can apply for a visa for your family members. But the process can take a long of time, depending on your own status. If you’re a U.S. citizen, it might take 8 months to a year to process the application. The waiting time will be much longer if you’re a Green Card holder. Generally, the sooner you start the process the better, so contact one of our attorneys now to get started or browse our site to learn more about the different types of visas available for family members.
Whether you can travel abroad depends on your immigration status. If you have been granted DACA or if you have a Green Card in hand – you still must ask for advanced permission in order to leave the country. This is called advanced parole. Obtaining advance parole is relatively inexpensive. But it is not without risk, because there is really no way to guarantee that you will be able to return. Your return is ultimately within the discretion of the authorities at the point of your reentry to the U.S.
If one of your employees entered the United States without visa and is working here without legal documentation, you may be able to help this person obtain legal immigration status. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to obtain a green card. The process for obtaining a green card is complicated and depends on many factors, including a person’s prior history (and their family’s prior history) in the United States. It’s definitely helpful to their case if you, as their employer, are willing to help, but the first step is to have the employee call us for an interview so we can understand more about their situation.
A work permit is a common way of referring to an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is issued by the Immigration Service (which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Under U.S. law, an employee needs a work permit or EAD in order to become a legal employee of a U.S. company. Many lawyers will promise to get undocumented immigrants work permit. But you have to be careful about this. The catch is that you can’t simply apply for a work permit or EAD in itself. In order to apply for a work permit a person must make an application for legal status in this country on some other basis. So don’t let your employees get gulled into believing that it’s easy to get a work permit by some lawyer or hustler on the street corner. Call us for an interview and so we can explain to your employees how the process and the immigration laws in the United States really work.