???????????????????????????????????????A Roadmap to “Green Card” Success

Obtaining an EB-5 investor “green card” is a complex process that requires the assistance of an experienced EB-5 lawyer. EB-5 lawyers charge different fees and offer widely differing services. Understanding the difference between the varied services offered by different EB-5 lawyers is key to a successful EB-5 application.

Experience

  • How Many EB-5 Applications does the Lawyer File?


    While many attorneys claim experience with EB-5 applications, the truth is that most lawyers only file a handful of EB-5 applications each year, if any. Asking how many EB-5 applications your lawyer files each month can be a highly informative question.

  • What type of EB-5 Applications does the Lawyer File?


    The overwhelming majority of EB-5 cases are Regional Center cases.  “Direct” EB-5 cases have different requirements and require lawyers with different experience sets. How much experience does the lawyer have with Direct and Regional Center Cases?

  • How Much Project and Structured Finance Experience does the Attorney Have?


    Regional Center EB-5 applications can often involve complex inter-creditor agreements. The position of the EB-5 investors as lenders to an EB-5 project directly raises issues of lending and finance law as it would with any other loan or investment. Rest assured that the project that is borrowing your money has negotiated the loan documents with the Regional Center.  No experienced lender would enter into a loan transaction without having the documents reviewed by a lending lawyer, neither should you. Unfortunately most EB-5 lawyers lack any exposure or training in financing or lending law and as a result may be unable to identify or evaluate certain lending-related risks. This can directly result in EB-5 investors unnecessarily losing all of their capital. We suggest you either hire an EB-5 lawyer or law firm with lending law experience or hire a second lawyer to undertake a review of the applicable loan documentation.

  • Other Necessary Experience


    Every EB-5 investment is different and has different risks. While it is not the role of an EB-5 lawyer to advise you on the financial risks of a particular investment, he or she should be able to identify specific risks in your transaction and the possible need to engage a specialist lawyer to evaluate and address those risks. EB-5 lawyers with no or little corporate or project finance experience may find it especially difficult to identify such risks. Therefore asking what experience your lawyer has with similar transactions may be helpful.

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Country Specific Experience

The EB-5 investor visa program has a number of requirements that raise country specific issues.

One of many of these issues is the tracing of an EB-5 investor’s source of funds. The ways in which funds can be lawfully earned in many counties and what is and is not acceptable local practice can and does vary. Knowledge of local law and practice and the USCIS attitude to those specific country issues is sometimes indispensable.

Does your law firm have lawyers licensed in your country who can assist you resolve issues of local law?

How many EB-5 or other investment visa cases does a Attroney or law firm handle from your country each month?

Does the law firm have a local presence in your country? 

Professionalism and Training

Has the Lawyer Ever Been Trained?

  • In most countries simply obtaining a law degree and passing the bar examination is insufficient to obtaining a license to practice law. Most countries have a requirement that lawyers receive substantial post-bar exam experience in order to have a license to practice law on an unsupervised basis.Most States in the United States impose no practical training requirement in order for a lawyer to obtain a license to practice law.  Once a U.S. lawyer obtains a law degree and passes the bar examination he or she is allowed to assist EB-5 clients on an un-supervised basis. Given that neither the bar exam syllabus nor the academic syllabus at most US law schools contain any reference to the EB-5 program it is quite possible that a lawyer assisting EB-5 clients has in fact never received any training specific to handling EB-5 cases.

Is the Lawyer an AILA Member?

AILA is the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is the professional association for lawyers that practice immigration law.

While there is no legal requirement that immigration lawyers be members of AILA the overwhelming majority of experienced immigration lawyers are AILA members.

Understanding your Business or Investment

Your business or your investment and their ability to generate jobs is what will ultimately get your conditional “green card” approved. Two years later it will be the ability of your business or investment to meet detailed legal requirements that will get the conditions on your ”green card” removed. Your lawyer therefore needs to be able to explain to the US government why your business meets the legal requirements for EB-5 approval.

Read More: Requirements for Funding | Regional Centers Success Rate

Does the Lawyer Have Business Training?

A lawyer must properly understand your business or the project you are investing in and its financials so that the lawyer can properly evidence to the US government that it meets the legal standards required for EB-5 visa approval. If a lawyer does not understand your business or investment this becomes impossible.

You may want to look for a lawyer who also holds an MBA, CFA or other meaningful business experience. Perhaps the law firm has a business planning group.

Will Your Lawyer Take the Time to Get to Know your Investment or Business?

Another important question is whether your lawyer will take the time to visit your business and truly get to know and understand it. There is no replication for taking the time to “walk” a client’s business. That process almost always reveals information that is extremely useful when presenting an EB-5 Petition.

  • Who will Write Your Business Plan?

    • If you are filing a “direct” EB-5, while immigration lawyers are not licensed financial advisors we believe that it is completely impossible for a lawyer to competently file an EB-5 application without a very solid knowledge and understanding of the business plan. The lawyer needs to explain to the U.S. government how the business plan satisfies the legal requirements for I-526 and I-829 approval.
  • Understanding Economic Models

    • Regional Center employ economic models to predict job creation.  The job creation models come under intense scrutiny from USCIS BOTH at the time the initial I-526 is filed and 2-3 years later when form I-829 is filed. If you are applying through the Regional Center program then the approval of your green card relies on the long-term validity of the economic model applied. While lawyers are not economists and are not equipped to prepare an economic model nor to criticize the theory behind an economic model, EB-5 lawyers should have a sufficient understanding of the economic model used by a Regional Center so as to understand the risks to job creation and appraise their clients on those risks.
  • Why Some EB-5 Lawyers Charge More than Others

    • Different law firms have different processes for handling EB-5 applications. These different processes result in very substantial variations on terms of the time spent on each project. In addition, some attorneys may be accepting part of their payment from the Regional Center.
  • How close is the Lawyer to the Regional Center?

    • Some lawyers work exclusively with certain Regional Centers and may even receive payments from those Regional Centers.