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The EB-5 Visa in Silicon Valley with Sophie Alcorn (3 of 3)

Hello EB-5 investors. This is Floyd Mitchell with the EB-5 Investor Portal; the leading resource for information regarding the EB-5 visa. I publish articles based upon my interviews with leading US immigration attorneys and other EB-5 professionals which are produced as podcasts to educate EB-5 investors. Our podcasts are syndicated around the world on search engines, social media, YouTube, Google Podcasts and our own Apple News Channel – “EB5 Investor Portal”.

So, this is not a forum, or a blog post based upon personal opinions or experiences. It is information taken from my many, many hours of interviews with licensed immigration and securities attorneys, securities professionals and others.

Today’s episode is titled The EB-5 Visa in Silicon Valley with special guest and immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn. Sophie’s firm Alcorn Immigration Law helps corporations, start-ups and small businesses in Silicon Valley sponsor the biggest talent in technical fields for U.S. Immigration. Alcorn Immigration Law has a 95% success rate in defending immigration and innovation with visas, green cards and citizenship.

This article is one of three in a series from EB-5 Immigration Attorney Sophie Alcorn.

I asked Sophie is she is seeing a trend with these Silicon Valley investors utilizing the EB-5 to retain their executives to keep these entrepreneurs here in the States.

Yeah I think it’s absolutely possible and that’s what’s happening with my client company. They really value this high level C-level engineer’s contributions to the company and they just want this person to be able to stay here. And yes, it’s completely possible. Each company would have to make that determination. I’ve talked to many investors who would be supportive of using some of that for the entrepreneur’s immigration process because if it’s a young company and the person even though they’re brilliant and hardworking and have a great product even if they’re not been internationally acclaimed for many years so that they can get a green card based on extraordinary ability. It could be very difficult for the company in which this person has a bunch of equity to sponsor them for a normal employment based green card. So EB-5, absolutely. If a company has the money and really cares about the person, it could make sense as a way for that person to getting a green card, for sure.
I just look at this from the investor’s side and they’ve already made a substantial investment. You know a million dollars in some cases maybe several million dollars in these startups and to retain their CEO or to keep these top level individuals here in the United States so that they can focus and grow the company. It makes sense for them, the investors to maybe consider EB-5.
I talked to a lot of investors, venture capitalists, angel investors and when they’re going through the due diligence process scoping out these companies more and more they’re asking, “What is the Founder’s immigration status”? “Are they here as a tourist for six months just trying to raise money and then at the end are they going to have to leave or are they going to overstay and get deported”? That’s a huge risk if somebody is investing potentially millions of dollars into a new venture, so yeah, if you’re committed to making this company work, then it could be an easy answer to add an EB-5 to the mix.

I asked Sophie, what is the biggest misconception in EB-5 right now?

I think the biggest misconception is that it’s all fraud and abuses Americans. There’s been a lot of media coverage about some very shady bad practices that are definitely illegal. But you know just because there’s one bad apple doesn’t mean that the whole bunch is spoiled. And I get the pleasure of meeting really good, decent, law abiding, driven, hardworking people who are in the EB-5 field who really just see this as a useful legal tool to help people. And so I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions which mostly comes from people who aren’t really familiar with it or maybe have a fear of immigration in general. But this this type of green card that EB-5 really provides a lot to be gained for everybody because at its core the whole point is to create jobs for Americans and put more money into the United States economy.

In the EB-5 program, there’s the regional center route where you invest and then there’s the direct investment route where you create a company that creates 10 jobs. What percentage or mix would you say your firm handles between the two types?

We’re doing a mixture of both with a regional center, it’s a little bit more replicable. The main issue that we need to focus on as the immigration attorney for the investor is to help prove the source, and the path of the funds and how all of the money was legally earned and can be traced and got to the United States in a legal manner. For direct investment on the other hand, there’s a lot more questions it’s a lot more fluid and flexible. Obviously the investment amount is higher but it’s a more creative effort and for somebody who is an entrepreneur who has some experience doing with this we find that they’re more comfortable investing the larger amount of money or have or locating their direct investment company in a targeted employment area to still do it at the $500,000 level. But the difference is, they have to directly manage and control the 10 employees and they need to be actively involved in the business. So it depends on the investor. But with the direct investment we do have more creativity an opportunity to structure the business in a way that makes sense for the investor and their business plan and what their goals are. So it’s just two different styles.

I wanted to know if under the direct investment option you’re kind of doubling your risk because you not only have the potential of getting your green card on the line but you also have to run and manage a business. So, you have to really know what you’re doing in business to be successful at that. With regional center route you just invest and kind of wait. Is that correct?

Oh yeah. You don’t do very much at all if it’s in a regional center. I only recommend the direct investment if you’re a seasoned entrepreneur who’s already succeeded at establishing several companies and this is not your entire life savings and you already know what you’re doing with running a business.

I also asked what is it like to be an immigration client at Alcorn Immigration Law? Could she give me an idea of how you work and what someone could expect if they were to hire your firm?

At Alcorn Immigration we put our clients front and center. We are our clients advocates and we work really hard to make sure that we dot every I and cross every T. And for us it’s all about our clients, it’s all about understanding what are your goals? What are your priorities? What are your options? How are we going to weigh all the pros and cons? And how can we use all of the tools that are available to us in U.S. Immigration Law to serve you. To help you find the best path for you and your family and your kids for their education and your career. So how are we going to structure this?
In addition to the EB-5, do we need a short term temporary non-immigrant visa so that you can start living here sooner? How will that interact with the EB-5? We’re very hands on and we help our clients with every aspect of the process.

I asked about any update in EB5 I should be aware of.

The EB-5 backlog for China is going to increase and that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is predicting the wait for Chinese individuals who have approved I526’s is to be eligible to get a green card based on the visa bulletin will go up all the way to a four year wait. Right now it’s about a 3 year wait but next year it might go up to a four year wait. And then additionally they’re restructuring some things internally at USCIS and they have a new pilot program where they have a team of economists and adjudicators who are all working together on the I829’s for the removal of conditions. And they’re doing this to experiment with how they can reduce the processing times. On the other end of the two years when you’re filing to remove the conditions after the investment has been made and then they also pointed out that there’s a part of the USCIS website online which is about how you can how you can prepare your I526 filing to make it easier for them to process and tips that you can do to help streamline the process and to help make it faster for you.

So the update from USCIS is they’re trying to do a lot of things to speed it up because they know they’ve got problems but there are so many people applying that processing times are going up especially for China and so once again it’s just if this is something you’re interested in the sooner you start the less time you’ll have to wait. So I think that’s an important tip for anybody who’s seriously considering the EB-5 immigration program.

A lot of people in the industry are saying that the $500,000 amount is 20 years old. It’s the same amount that Congress first used in 1990 when they made the program. Some say it’s going to go up.
I’ve been hearing a lot about a lot of chatter about the amount increasing. I don’t know what the actual change is going to be but the numbers I keep hearing are that the regional center will go up from five hundred thousand to eight hundred thousand at least and then the direct investment will increase from 1 million to maybe 1.4 million. But I’ve also heard higher numbers being tossed around. So this is really important for investors too.

For the investors listening today if they want to take advantage of that $500,000 amount before it goes up can they call you and do you have the bandwidth to help them with their EB-5 5 case?
Absolutely. The sooner you decide that this is something that you want to do, and let us know, the better. Yes, we can absolutely hope you we’re at Alcorn.Law and you can contact us through our website. Please try to let us know as soon as you can to increase the chances that we’ll have the capacity to help you.

I thanked Sophie for her time and commented that it’s very apparent that she genuinely cares about her clients and really enjoy helping people.

We care a lot about our clients the way I got into immigration law is because my dad was an immigration lawyer. He practiced immigration law for over 35 years during his lifetime. My mom is an immigrant from Germany. And so I grew up surrounded by immigrants and bridging two cultures and being exposed to two languages. And so I understand what it’s like to pick up your life and start over in a new country. And my dad inspired me because I saw him helping immigrants and fighting for immigrants all the time. And so when I started my practice I really wanted to carry on his legacy of advocacy and compassion.

Well, we thoroughly covered a range of topics! I am happy I was able to share to share what I think is great advice, guidance and strategies for EB-5 investors. You can hear the full podcast by clicking on the following link which features the podcast series on the EB-5 Investor Portal

Make sure you watch for additional articles as this is a series of articles from Sophie Alcorn.

Please remember that the information in this article and the podcast series is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for individualized advice from qualified immigration counsel.

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