The EB-5 Program for India’s Investors with Swee Shankar
Hello EB-5 investors. This is Floyd Mitchell with eb5eb5.com. Welcome to episode three of the EB-5 investor portal podcast, recording on Friday July 14th 2017. Today’s episode is titled The EB-5 Visa with a focus on India. Our guest today is immigration attorney, Swee Shankar of Shankar Ninan & Co LLP.
Swee brings a wealth of experience in Immigration and Nationality laws and is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, New York City Bar Association and the American Bar Association. Swee assists corporations seeking to hire foreign professionals or skilled workers and also assists corporate clients with transferring personnel to company branches within the United States. She also advises clients in U.S. EB-5 investor visa applications.
Are you an investor from India and curious about how you might approach the EB-5 process? Are you curious to learn more about applying for EB-5 as an individual from India? If so, today’s podcast is just for you. If you are listening today and happen to live in a country or region outside of India, you may still learn a lot from this episode and we encourage you to listen as well.
Swee, welcome to the show.
Swee Shankar: Thank you. Thank you for having me here.
Floyd Mitchell: Please tell us a little bit about your practice. Do you focus on clients coming to America primarily from India via the EB-5 program?
Swee Shankar: Yeah, absolutely. So I would say about 80% of my clients are Indian based. I really think it’s because I’m Indian, honestly, so I think people feel comfortable to seek advice from someone that they can relate to, you know? But we do have clients from all over the country, all different backgrounds, ethnicities, all that kind of stuff. My firm has been in business for over 25 years. We used to be called Shimanayd Syad PC but we have recently bought over that firm and now, as you have mentioned, we are known as Shankar Ninan & Co., LLP. We deal with all corporate business and family immigration ranging from all types of visas, students, work visas, green cards, naturalization, investment routes, etc. But yes, we do, primarily, deal with a large Indian based clientele.
Floyd Mitchell: What is the most common question you get from your EB-5 client in India?
Swee Shankar: That’s a good question. It’s hard to say that there honestly is just one. Most people want to know, of course, when they’re going to get their money back. But when we really start getting into the process, I think my client’s biggest concern is how to get all of their money here. And the differences between investing in their own businesses versus a regional center. And, which one is more beneficial to their interests.
Floyd Mitchell: What type of services does your firm offer in terms of the planning? Do you help them develop an immigration plan? Do you assist with source of funds?
Swee Shankar: When it comes to their immigration plan, we really take care of them from the day that they come into my office to the day that they get their green card. So, I will discuss with them their immigration status. What status they’re on currently. If they’re not in the country, the best way to get them here. The best routes for them to take. Of course, sourcing of funds is a huge issue. Regardless of who you are you need to be able to source your funds. And, also importantly, on to that topic, really just how it makes sense for them to come here. Bring their money here. Who can come in under, with them. Their spouses, their children. And the best route for them to take. We’re here when they need help with anything from business plans. We can help assist or talk with other vendors that we have, to help them get connected. And then, we also help once we file the I-526. If there’s any queries that come from USCIS, which is called a Request for Evidence. We’re there to assist with the entire Request for Evidence process. Provide all the documentation that they ask for. And respond to that. And usually after the I-526, there’s other steps. We help them with the next step, which is adjusting their status to actually get their green card. And we get them their adjustment of status. They get their temporary green card. And much longer down the road, we help them remove the conditions of their green card to get a permanent green card.
Floyd Mitchell: Are there particular issues that tend to commonly arise, or challenges that come up for these investors. I know you just touched on source of funds being a challenge. Can you speak to those challenges as they specifically relate to India? And the solutions that you recommend or common strategies that you deploy to help, in situations like that?
Swee Shankar: Yeah. Absolutely. In India, you can only transfer 250K per person per year. Okay. So usually that’s dealt with pretty easily, because most people will have a spouse, or a child, a family member. Someone that can transfer half of the money. And then the investor will transfer the other half of the money. Okay, so that’s not too much of an issue here at this time where the investment amount is 500K. Some other issues that we have is just, how do you source the funds? What can you do to really go all the way back and trace where that money came from. So we help with each of our clients to really go back and be able to show where all the money is coming from. So, that’s a big thing, too.
Floyd Mitchell: Can you tell us a little bit more about source of funds. Maybe give us some various scenarios that were challenging for you. Or describe to us what exactly it is that USCIS looks for in getting source of funds approved for these investor clients from India.
Swee Shankar: Yeah. Absolutely. So we’ve actually seen, recently, that USCIS is really questioning source of funds. More so than they ever have. So USCIS will go as far back as possible to source funds. Therefore, it’s very important to have a trail of where your money is coming from. Anything that is done, must be on paper. So for example, if the money is received by sale of property, let’s say. USCIS will ask, not only the proof that the property is owned by the investor, and the purchase sale agreement evidencing the sale of the property. But also, where the investor received the money, in the first place, to buy the property. So they’re going all the way back as far as they possibly can. So this always leads to more questions. Another way you can get sourcing your funds is, let’s say, the investor has a successful business wherein he received enough funds to buy the property. If he is employed, did he just save up his paychecks to buy the property? Or was the property gifted to the investor? Either way, regardless of which way he got the money to purchase the property, the trail of the money is what’s important. And we have to show that, we’ve seen in recent RFEs, that they’re asking us to go as far back as humanly possible to show where the money came from to buy the property. And then that the property was rightfully that of the owner. The investor. And then that the property which was owned by the investor, has now been sold to a third party. And the money given from the third party to the investor, and that money going into the investor savings account. Which is then being transferred to the United States.
Floyd Mitchell: So, for the investors that have the money to make this investment in the EB-5 program. One of your main roles as their immigration attorney is to help them prove source of funds, help them prove that that investment was obtained legally. Is that correct?
Swee Shankar: Absolutely. That’s the most important thing that we do when it comes to EB-5.
Floyd Mitchell: Have you ever had clients that just simply could not prove their source of funds. For whatever reason they couldn’t give you the documentation that you needed to be able to assist them in that process.
Swee Shankar: Honestly, it’s really hard because of how strict USCIS is right now. If you can not source funds, it’s not a good idea to even go the EB-5 route. We’ve, at least with the money that you’re able to show, if you can’t show where it came from, it’s hard to even do this as an option.
Floyd Mitchell: Have you had circumstances where clients, before retaining immigration counsel, may have started creating activity with their finances, moving money around. Do you have advice for the investor who may be planning for EB-5 and any suggestions that they just don’t do anything with their money before speaking with you.
Swee Shankar: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I definitely think that you should, anyone thinking about doing this, should come in and speak to an attorney before they do anything. Because, I think people read a lot on forums and different websites. And think that A, B and C is possible. But you don’t want to get yourself in a predicament where now you can’t move your money back to where you want it, and you’re violating whatever regulations in whatever country you’re from, without speaking to someone first. So I would definitely advise that anyone seeking to invest in EB-5, come and speak to an attorney, or come and speak to me before they do anything and move forward.
Floyd Mitchell: Are there any capital restrictions in moving funds from India to the U.S.? I know you mentioned a husband and wife team can each move 250,000 per year, out of india and into the U.S. Are there other details or requirements or restrictions around that. If so can you share that with us?
Swee Shankar: There really aren’t. India is pretty straight forward with it. It’s just 250K per person per year. And you’re able to do that from your bank account in India or wherever it may be, to your bank account in the U.S.
Floyd Mitchell: And how would a husband and wife team navigate that? Say the husband has the necessary funds and profits in his company. Would he write a distribution check to himself and also write one to his wife? Or vice versa. Would she write one to herself and one to her husband, if it was her business?
Swee Shankar: Yeah. That’s exactly how you would do it. But you have to make sure the correct documentation is in place. So for example, if you’re a partner of a company, you have to have board resolution from your company stating that this amount of money is okay to be given to the investor for this purpose. And that’s a simple document, you know. That’s not hard to do, at all. And then you can also say the same thing as for the wife. And then once both of those people have the money, they can then individually transfer it to the United States.
Floyd Mitchell: You mentioned this earlier, the current minimum is $500,000. Under the Targeted Employment Regional Center program the direct investment is a million, as I understand. But right now it’s five hundred thousand. There’s a lot of people talking in the industry, and a lot of chatter on the internet, about that going up to maybe eight hundred thousand, or even as much as 1.3 million. How would this impact that 250K per person currency restriction that’s currently in India?
Swee Shankar: Well, for Indians, they’re going to have to find another family member who is willing to transfer the money to reach the new capital contribution. So again, if you have the investor transferring 250. Now the spouse is transferring 250. Maybe you have an aunt or an uncle, transferring the other 250. You’re going to have multiple people transferring the money. That’s the only really way around it.
Floyd Mitchell: If the original investor has already prove source of funds, it’s perfectly fine for them to share some of that money, you know, basically send that money out to other friends and family members and say “wire this into my U.S. bank account?
Swee Shankar: I haven’t seen immigration … I haven’t seen UCIS, yet, try to source funds of each of these other people. But, anything is possible. And if they do, then each of these people will have to show that the money came from a legitimate source.
Floyd Mitchell: What are the different ways an investor can put together the 500K? And for each one doing that, what are those supporting documents? Are they tax returns, payroll? Can you tell us a little bit more about this?
Swee Shankar: Yes. I think I touched on this slightly a little bit earlier. But, it really depends, again, on how the investor has the money, right? So, has he saved it from employment? Does he own a company? Did he buy and sell property? The documents needed really, would be based on those questions. But generally speaking, we’ll need to trace the money as far back as possible. So for example, if the investor owns a business, the USCIS, the same thing with the property example earlier, can go as far back as to say, “How did the investor obtain the money to start the business in the first place?” So then you’ll have tax returns, financial statements, pay stubs. All that kind of stuff to show revenue in the company. And, of course, most importantly, you have to be able to prove the investor has ownership in the company, and rights to this money. And again, the board resolution allowing the company to loan or get the money to the investor for this investment purpose.
Floyd Mitchell: And for the investors listening that are in India, specifically, is there anything you recommend they do before calling you, that would help your work with them to make their case be easier or more well prepared? Let’s say they have 6 months to prepare, what can they do?
Swee Shankar: They can definitely start even making a flow chart for themselves. Okay, here’s my 500K, how did I get it? Go back as far as they can, to see where that money came, and to really be able to see whether they’re able to prove that through traceable funds. Do they have evidence to prove every single step of the way? Also, if you’re overseas, you have to make sure that you have a way of bringing the money to the U.S. – Again, 250K per person per year. So do you have a spouse that’s willing to bring the other half? Or do you have another family member? And then, lastly, they have to determine how they want to invest their money. Whether it’s a Regional Center or a direct investment.
Floyd Mitchell: Can you please describe to us the major differences between regional center and direct investments and which scenarios would you recommend one over the other to your investor clients from India?
Swee Shankar: Yeah, absolutely. So, I always tell people that, if you are willing to open up your own company and spend your time doing that, spend your time in the company, managing your company. That’s your full time job, okay? If you’re willing to do that, then you can invest your money into your own company. That’s a direct investment. Okay, basically saying I am going to invest five hundred thousand dollars into my company for the purpose of creating ten jobs. Okay? America is not so much concerned with the money that you’re giving them, but the fact that you’re creating jobs for the American people. So that being said, when you do a direct investment, and after you get your I-526 approved and your temporary two year green card, you must show that you have created ten jobs, full time jobs, prevailing wage salaries, for two years. Okay? If you do not show that, you will never get your conditions removed on your temporary green card. And you will never get a permanent green card. Now, the difference really is between the direct and the Regional Center, is that in the Regional Center, all of this has to take place as well. However, it’s not your responsibility to do so. The Regional Center will create jobs for you. Okay? And so, your responsibility at the end of the day, is to invest the money and get your green card. Once you invest the money, you don’t really have much else of a responsibility to that company other than being … other than the investment that you make. So those are the two big differences. And I think it really depends on the person who comes to me and wants to know, whether to do direct or Regional Center. It really depends on what their goals and ambitions are. If they just want a green card, and they don’t really want to have to worry about doing anything else, I always say, go the Regional Center route. Okay? Now if they actually want to
start their own company, and they have experience with this company. And they have experience in this industry. And they think it will be successful. They think that they’re able to employ the ten people, then I say, okay, go ahead and do a direct investment. I think the reason a lot of attention isn’t given to the direct investments, is because people are scared that they’re not going to be able to create the ten jobs. And what happens if they’re short one job. Or what happens if their business isn’t exactly what they thought it would be when they created the business plan, you know. And if USCIS sees a material change in your business plan, versus what you’re doing, then that can be an issue too. So you really have to stick to the business that you say you’re going to create, and you have to really be able to show the ten jobs, full time, prevailing wage employment.
Floyd Mitchell: So that I’m clear the direct investment can be $500,000 if it’s in a Targeted Employment area. But if it’s not, it’s a million. Is that right? So a great candidate for the direct investment coming from India may be a small software company that already has a great product, great recurring revenue maybe they just want to relocate to Silicon Valley to hire top engineers and have this international pool of developer that they can hire. That might be a great opportunity for them, is that a good scenario?
Swee Shankar: Oh yeah. Absolutely. I mean, that’s a really good idea for many Indians, because many Indian people do have experience with the IT, engineer and computer science world. So absolutely, that’s a great option. But we see direct investments with all types of businesses. I’ve done it for Dunkin’ Donuts. I’ve done it for gas stations. We’ve done it, you name it. It’s been done. So, at the end of the day, as long as you can prove those things, it’s a great idea. And, I’ve noticed a lot of Indian people want to go this route, but they don’t realize how much money that they actually have to put in. Because you’re not only putting in the five hundred thousand dollar investment, remember? You’re also paying ten people. Payroll for two years at prevailing wages is much more than five hundred thousand. So I think that’s where people don’t really realize the difference. So you really have to be willing to want to own a company. Start a company and have that be the rest of your life, essentially. But it is definitely a great option for people that want to do that, and are willing to do that with their time.
Floyd Mitchell: So the Regional Center route is … I would say it’s almost half the risk. Because with direct investment, you’re banking on yourself as a business person on top of navigating this process with your immigration firm helping you get EB-5. You’re kind of doubling your risk, almost. Is that a safe assumption?
Swee Shankar: It’s absolutely half the risk. I mean, like I said, you invest your money and then you kind of sit back. And a lot of these Regional Centers are already approved immigration projects, right? So as long as you can prove that you can source your funds, and your money came in a legitimate fashion, then most everything else is already taken care of. You don’t really have to do much else.
Floyd Mitchell: When does the investor get their money back, Swee?
Swee Shankar: It really depends on the Regional Center. But most Regional Centers will give you your money back in five years. And, a lot of them will do anywhere between a half of a percent and one percent interest.
Floyd Mitchell: And is there any chance that they will receive a green card, but they won’t get their money back? How certain are you, as their attorney, handling their case, that they will get their money back? How confident are you in saying, “Everything should be great. You should expect this money back within X amount of years, somewhere in that range…
Swee Shankar: What I always tell people is, “Your money is at risk. That is the law. I cannot guarantee anything.” However, that being said, if you sign up for a Regional Center, okay, and it is your fa ult that the I-526 didn’t get approved because you couldn’t source your funds, for whatever reason, then you’re still going to get your money back. I have no doubt that you’ll get your money back. You just might not be the first person that the Regional Center is going to give their money back to. Okay? However, if it has anything to do with the Regional Center. For whatever reason, the Regional Center wasn’t able to create the ten jobs, or any other reason to do with the Regional Center. You are going to be the top person on their list to get your money back. And I have never seen a case where they have not gotten their money back. And if that ever happens, there’s lawsuits, after lawsuits, after lawsuits. So you will get your money back at some point.
Floyd Mitchell: Before these investors have an opportunity to invest in these projects, they have gone through some type of vetting system correct? To get the i526 approval there’s a tremendous amount of paperwork and information that has to get submitted to USCIS before they can even start accepting investors, correct?
Swee Shankar: Absolutely. So like I said, when you’re investing in these projects, in order for a Regional Center to be approved, they have to go through a very rigorous set of standards. So the investor really has a high chance of getting his money back.
Floyd Mitchell: What are the biggest disqualifying things that happen throughout the course of the EB-5 process? The person applying, investing, the petitions. Is there anything that’s an immediate disqualifier? I understand source of funds can be challenging but what are the big ones?
Swee Shankar: Yeah. So there’s different steps to getting your green card. Any route you take to get your green card. For EB-5 purposes, there’s three different steps. Okay? So the first one is I-526. The I-526 gets approved as long as you can show source of funds. That’s the main thing, as long as you can show that, it will get approved. Now the second thing to actually get your green card, there’s two ways you get it. If you’re in the country, what you do is something called an I-485 application, to adjust your status. Now when you apply for I-485, this is when they check, have you maintained your status while you were in this country? And your medical background. Those are the two big things. Now if you have been out of status for more than six months, you will never get an I-485 approval. Okay? Meaning you’ll never get your green card. Same for health. There’s certain tests that immigration does that you have to get. And if you have a certain background, certain negative results, then the same thing applies as a disqualifier. Okay? If you’re not in the country, if you’re outside of the country, then you have to go through the consulate. You have to do consular processing and get your visa stamped in order to come into the country and get your green card. Now this works in a very similar fashion. Most consulates, and especially the ones in India, will do the exact same thing. You have to get your medical done. And, well of course, there’s no maintenance of status here, because you’re not in the country. But for this purpose, they’re really just going to look at your medical. And they’ll look at your background. Have you ever had any criminal convictions? Have you ever had any trouble with the law? Have you ever been in the country and overstayed? If so, how long did you overstay for? Are you barred from the country because you overstayed for a year, or two years, or what have you? But either way, they are going to look into your background in order to give you that temporary two year green card. And after you get the temporary green card, remember that’s when you have to look to the creation of jobs, and that the investment was fully made. That the five hundred thousand dollar investment was fully made. Okay? And at that point you will remove the conditions on your two year green card, and you’ll get a ten year green card. So, that’s what they’re going to look to at that point.
Floyd Mitchell: Can you speak to us a little deeper about that. I thought it was like a permanent green card. Is it only ten years, but it’s permanent?
Swee Shankar: Right. That’s exactly how it works. So green cards are only given for a ten year period. So after the ten year period, you have to renew it, or you can apply for citizenship. Once you have your green card for five years, you’re eligible to apply for citizenship. So either you renew your green card every ten years, or you apply for citizenship. You become a citizen. And then, at that point, there is nothing else for you to do.
Floyd Mitchell: What does it mean, the term “Removal of Conditions”?
Swee Shankar: Yes. So the reason they call it removal of conditions is, it’s not a particular condition that’s being removed, per se. But the two year green card is called a conditional green card. So hence, you’re removing the conditions from the green card to now get your ten year permanent green card.
Floyd Mitchell: How many clients that go through all three steps you just walked us through., how many of them can actually get permanent citizenship after that five years? Is it all of them?
Swee Shankar: Every single one.
Floyd Mitchell: The EB-5 program truly is a path to citizenship. And that’s why it gets marketed as such, right?
Swee Shankar: Absolutely. And as long as they pass the same test that anyone else is taking for citizenship, they are eligible for, and they will get their citizenship.
Floyd Mitchell: What about the people who have overstayed their visa? Do they have no shot at all of ever getting citizenship through EB-5? Or could you work with them to help them do the right thing and reapply?
Swee Shankar: Well, what happens is, if you overstay for more than six months, you’re barred from the United States for three years. If you overstay for more than one year, you’re barred for ten years. So if you keep staying in this country, there’s nothing I can do to help you. However, through the EB-5 route, that is. Okay, however, if you leave the country and say, okay, I understand that I’m barred for three years or I’m barred for ten years, but after that I’ll come back in. So let’s say you get your I-526 approved, and then you’re in the country. You leave the country, you’ve overstayed for one year, or you’ve overstayed for eight months, let’s say. Okay, and then you’re like, all right, I’m going to go back. You go back to your country. You stay there for three years. And then you go through consular processing. You use that approved I-526 and you come in and get your green card. It’s just a matter of time, at that point.
Floyd Mitchell: Within India, are there any programs or rules or government requirements that basically preclude their citizens from participating in EB-5? Is there ever a lottery that says, “only X amount of people can apply for EB-5 within India.
Swee Shankar: No. No.
Floyd Mitchell: So this program’s good for anyone who has the available funds to invest and who can follow the proper steps?
Swee Shankar: Absolutely.
Floyd Mitchell: Swee, can you give us some timelines for each of those three steps? Some milestones, for example how long each of those steps may take in terms of months or years?
Swee Shankar: Sure. So currently, the I-526 petition is taking about sixteen to seventeen months to get approved. Once that is approved and you’re not in the country, let’s say, you go for consular processing. The consular processing timeline takes about six to eight months for them to call you in for an interview and for you to get your green card stamped and come into the country. So you’re looking at about a year and a half to get your temporary green card, okay? Same thing for if you are in the country. The I-485 to adjust your status takes about six to eight months. I-526 takes sixteen to seventeen months. Again, a year and a half. I always tell my clients about two years just in case there’s any Request for Evidences or any other pitfalls in the application. Always give yourself about two years to get that initial two year green card.
Floyd Mitchell: Okay, within eighteen to twenty-four months the investor can move here, they can buy a house, enroll in school, start a job?
Swee Shankar: Absolutely. Once you have your green card you are able to do all of those things. You can buy a house. You can enroll in school. Really it depends if you are investing in your own company, or really supposed to be working there. But if you’re doing a Regional Center you can get a job. All of those things. It’s one thing to keep in mind, as a permanent resident, you can not leave the country. If you leave the country, you must re-enter into the country every six months, okay, to avoid any issues. Because remember, once you get your green card you’re supposed to be a permanent resident of this country. So if you’re not really a permanent resident here, the consulate officers can give you issues. But there’s also ways around this, as well.
Floyd Mitchell: I understand that you’ve worked with EB-5 investors and lots of other forms of immigration, specifically for India clients. Is there one thing that these clients have shared with you after they’ve come here and gone through this process is there something really exciting that they’ve told you about America that may paint a picture about America and the American Dream?
Swee Shankar: That’s exactly, you said it. The American dream. I think everybody, regardless of what country you’re from, but India specifically, people hear about this American dream. Once you are given the opportunity to be part of that, I think, that’s what makes it so amazing. And Indians, more so specifically, you notice we’re very big on family. So you notice that a lot of people do this for their children. They say, “I went through this entire process. It took me however many years. I worked so hard to get the money to invest. But it wasn’t for me. It’s for my children. I want them to have the life I couldn’t have.” And hearing that kind of melts your heart a little bit, you know? Because they’re doing that for the next generation. So, that’s really nice.
Floyd Mitchell: That is really nice. That’s really, really special. I’m sure a lot of the wealth that has been created in India is from, just good old fashioned hard work. Creating value for people.
Swee Shankar: Absolutely, correct.
Floyd Mitchell: Can we talk about students for a moment Swee? What are the advantages that foreign students attending Universities in the U.S. may have if applying for the EB-5 visa as opposed to the other students who may be here on a student visa. What are those advantages for the EB-5 students?
Swee Shankar: Yeah, absolutely. If you’re here in this country on a student visa, and your parents, or anyone in your family has the money to invest in your green card, you’re really taking a leap ahead of many students because you’re going to get your green card way faster than anyone else. The reason I say this is, most people, what they do is, Indian’s specifically, is they come here on a student visa, okay? And then they apply for their H1-B visa, which will have to go through a lottery system to even get an H1-B visa. So at that point, themselves, they’re taking a chance. Once they go that route, now they have an employer. An employer usually then applies for their EB-2 or EB-3 green card in both categories. Now, the unfortunate thing about EB-2 and EB-3 categories for Indians, is that it is very far backlogged. What that means is every country gets a certain number of green cards per category. Once that number is hit every month, only a certain number of those can be given per category. So for example, for Indians, EB-2 category, those who applied for their green cards in 2009 are now getting their green card. So, I mean, that’s about eight or nine years backlogged. So now these people are just extending their H1-B visas, hoping that they’re date becomes current and they can get their green card. So many times I see students who come here and it’s been twelve years, and still no green card. So EB-5 is a great option because you’re going to get your green card much faster than any of your peers or your colleagues because you don’t have to wait nearly as long. There is no backlog for EB-5 in India. And like I said, you can do it simultaneously while you’re getting your education. So you can pretty much get your four year degree, graduate with a bachelor’s or a master’s degree and simultaneously, also get your green card. Which is fantastic. It’s amazing, actually, compared to everyone else who is not applying an EB-5 and applying an EB-2 or EB-3. Furthermore, Indians do not have the benefit of E-2 or E-3 visas which are investor visas through treaties or through investments. Just a visa, not a green card. Because India doesn’t have a treaty with America to benefit them with an E-2 or an E-3. So that investment option isn’t even available … They don’t even have that choice. So, if they want to get their green card through an investment route, the only option for them is EB-5.
Floyd Mitchell: Do some families pool their money and come up with the investment amount to support one child who is going to come here and go to school and then get their permanent residency through EB-5? Does that happen?
Swee Shankar: Absolutely. And I’ve seen that happen with my clients. They pool all their money. They put it together. They get a green card for this individual who’s here on a F1 visa and it’s very possible. And it happens all the time, actually.
Floyd Mitchell: And so that green card would cover that investor and their spouse, does anyone else get a green card?
Swee Shankar: So, a green card … A five hundred thousand investment covers the investor, the spouse and any children under the age of twenty-one.
Floyd Mitchell: Once that investor and his or her spouse and children all become American citizens, down the road is there anything they can do to help their family members become american citizens? Is there any advantage created there?
Swee Shankar: Yeah. Once a child is 21 and becomes a citizen, you can sponsor your parents for green cards, which is great. And they’ll get their green cards right away. Year and a half. As far as visiting goes, anyone can apply for a visitor’s visa. And as long as you have a legitimate reason to visit your child, your friend, your sister, they will give you a visitor’s visa to come to America and visit. Also, once you’re a citizen, you can apply for your siblings and things like that. So yeah. It’s definitely a different route that you can take to help the people who helped you.
Floyd Mitchell: That is really wonderful. And, let’s just say they get here and they get a little homesick. Can that investor travel home freely, to visit? Just for our audience listening today that may not understand that process, can you talk about that a little bit. Do they get to go home when they want to basically?
Swee Shankar: Absolutely. Once you’re a citizen, you can leave the country for as long as you want. As I said, if you’re a green card holder and you’re not a citizen yet, you can of course leave the country. But you have to come back within six months to avoid any issues at the consulate.
Floyd Mitchell: How do you help your clients in picking the right Regional Center project for their investment? And do you recommend that they work with a Broker Dealer?
Swee Shankar: Yeah. So they should be working with a securities firm, broker-dealer that’s licensed with the SEC. Because these people, what they do, their entire job is to do a lot of due diligence on the EB-5 component, as well as the financial stability of the project. So when you know that a broker-dealer is involved, you know that this project is really is going to be financially stable. Okay? The broker-dealer really should be part of the professional team. And it’s at no additional cost to the investor. I always tell people, when you’re looking of r projects, look for these key components in these projects because then you know that it’s a successful or financially stable project.
Floyd Mitchell: Will the investor have time to speak with … or the investor’s accountant or legal team there in India, will they have the opportunity to speak with that broker- dealer and look at projects? And maybe come back to you and ask you a couple of questions?
Swee Shankar: Absolutely. And if they’re in the country, too, I know many Regional centers will allow you to go to wherever they’re located. Visit them. Visit the project. Ask as many questions as you want. Speak with whomever you need to speak with, to make sure you’re comfortable with the investment. At the end of the day, you’re investing a lot of money into their project.
Floyd Mitchell: And it can be really good sometimes to just get in a room, meet the people, and get a better understanding of where your investment is being made so that you have a better sense of confidence in that investment.
Swee Shankar: Exactly. If you have the ability to be in the country. Or you have a visa, and you can come into the country, I always tell people, you want to go to that Regional Center and really get a feel for whatever it is that you’re investing in.
Floyd Mitchell: Our number one goal at the EB-5 Investor Portal is to create awareness and education around EB-5. And to help international families. Help them realize the American dream. Help them get into this country and live the American life. What safeguards, red flags, warning signs … What should these investors be careful about with regards to the internet and information out there about EB-5 Swee? Immigration agents have been known to pitch people on ideas. Where do they fit into this dynamic? Can you give us some cautionary tips and safety tools that these investors can use when they’re navigating and considering EB-5?
Swee Shankar: Of course. I think I mentioned this before, but there are a million forums out there. And I know, Indians especially, love reading these forums. And stating, “oh whatever on this forum and this forum.” It is very important to keep in mind that forums are just other peoples opinions and experiences. Just because someone else had a certain experience with a consulate officer or for their particular case, that does not mean that it’s the law. And that everyone will encounter the same experience. So, that’s very important to keep in mind. So really, unless it’s on a USCIS website or government website coming directly from DHS, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Labor, or USCIS, then it really is not 100% credible information. And, of course, at the end of the day, if you are doubting anything that you read, it’s probably because it is doubtful. And you should always go to an immigration attorney who knows the law and can advise you on that law.
Floyd Mitchell: There’s a lot on the internet about people who call themselves Immigration Agents or Consultants and they say “I know a guy, I know a person, let me just handle everything for you, I’ll manage your money and get you a green card. What do you have to say about this type of scenario?
Swee Shankar: There’s always people out there. If you hear anyone say to you, “Let me handle it. I’ll get your visa. Don’t ask questions. Just come with me.” That right there should be a red flag to you. Okay. You should be able to ask how many ever questions that you have. And you shouldn’t be pitched on just one project, ever. These people should be giving you options. If you’re not given options, and you’re not really given the ability to ask questions, then I would walk the other way immediately.
Floyd Mitchell: That is really great information and great to hear from an Immigration Attorney, the real take away here is that there are no “gatekeepers” so to speak. This is an opportunity that is available to anyone that has the money and a very specific way to go about it. Be sure you are working with an immigration attorney in the U.S. that knows the law.
Swee Shankar: Absolutely. That’s correct. Floyd Mitchell: Okay. Got it. Swee is there anything else you’d like to share? Or anything I might not have covered?
Swee Shankar: I think we were pretty thorough here. We covered almost everything that we could with EB-5. But, you know, if you have anymore questions, or if you are ready to file your EB-5 case or invest in a company. Go to a regional center. Anything of that nature, you can always call me. Reach out to me. You will see that my website is in this podcast. My phone number and all of my information.
Floyd Mitchell: Thank again so much Swee for participating in today’s podcast and for sharing so much information about EB-5 and we look forward to having you on the show again.
Swee Shankar: Awesome, thank you so much!
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