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The EB-5 Visa in Silicon Valley with Sophie Alcorn (1 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 what is the most common question she gets from her immigration clients.

The most common question is “How can I stay in the United States or how can I get the United States”. Even though there are so many options and so many laws that allow for legal immigration to the United States it’s so confusing to try to decipher them and navigate them. Immigration law is one, if not the most, complicated types of law in the United States. Many judges have complained that it’s even more complicated than our crazy tax law system. And if you couple that with the fact that most people who need to navigate U.S. immigration law are from countries where English is not the first language that they learn and if they speak English they speak it as a second language. It’s just so unfair and so difficult for them to try to decipher what immigration laws mean.

I wanted to know how she approaches that problem.

As a non-native English speaker especially so what I see my job as and our team what we do at Alcorn Immigration is really, we come in to help understand…What is your specific situation? Where are you at? Where do you want to be in your life? How do you want to get there? Who do you need to help like your family, your company, your employees, and what? And then we brainstorm. We use all of the tools of immigration law, visas, parole, green cards, citizenship and so we come up with a lot of creative legal options to help figure it out and then we turn it over to our clients because what it’s really about is our clients figuring out what are their priorities. So you know given where they are and where they want to go would they rather pick option A which has these pros and cons, option B which has the pros and cons, option C, and to really give a lot of thought to, “How do I want my life to work?” How long can I wait for this visa? Do I want to try to get it inside the U.S. or outside of the United States? How much do I care about when I’ll be able to work in the United States? Do I just want to be here physically? Do my children need to go to school? Which type of school do they want to go to? Do I need to travel a lot back and forth for business meetings or board meetings? Or do I need to just plant myself in the United States and not travel because my kids are really young? So you know everybody’s situation is different but everybody has questions. And so people are just delighted to have the opportunity to make an intelligent decision about about their future and to feel like they have some control in choosing one of these strategies that we offer.

I wanted to know what is unique about working in the Silicon Valley of California.

We get to help people who are coming to Silicon Valley coming to the United States who are focused on innovating and changing the world. They’re not just starting software companies but also biotech, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, robotics and the fact that we get to be a part of this process and helping so many brilliant and skilled people come here is really what gets me up every morning and gets me excited to come to the office. There are amazing people and I love helping and hearing everybody’s stories and their plans for what they want to do in the United States. You know and alot of our clients just want to come to make a better life for themselves and their families and that’s pretty inspiring too.

I could see that her clients are really relying on her and trusting her to guide them and help them navigate a really complex system.

Absolutely it’s so much about trust and relationship building and clients come to me scared. We get hundreds of calls every month from people who are scared. They’re confused. They’re lost. They know what they want but they’re not quite sure how to get it. Or maybe they’re not even sure what they want because they’ve even given up hope because it seems too complicated. And yeah I mean the easy scenario in which it makes sense then it’s completely obvious to say that immigration law is deeply human where it could be an asylum case for example. But even when I am representing the director of a huge museum or somebody running a publicly traded huge Chinese company it is still deeply human deeply personal work because it’s their lives it’s their futures and everybody cares about what their life is going to look like. And especially when kids come into the picture what opportunities their children will have growing up in a certain way of life or culture and having opportunities resources freedom good education systems opportunity to go to college in the United States. Those are things that are really important to our clients.

Are the children of your clients are a major motivator in the EB-5 program?

It’s the primary driving factor for many people who are getting EB-5 green cards. Sometimes even families who are living abroad they have teenage children or children in college in the United States as foreign students on F-1 visas. Often the parents are still busy working and they need to stay in their home countries such as China but they will even give their child their 20 year old the five hundred thousand dollars for an EB-5 regional center investment so that their child will have the ability to live in the United States after college without needing to go through the crazy random H-1B lottery for professional visas. There’s no guarantee that your adult child will be able to stay and actually pursue a professional path in the United States. So yeah, what people go through for their children, inspires me every day and I have two little kids. I’m just awed by the love in families of my clients.

I’ve heard stories of entire families pooling funds so that one child can have an opportunity to get an education in America and then pursue a life and career in America. After graduating from school. I asked Sophie what it may look like for the international students who are also applying for the EB-5 program?

It’s a huge advantage. For example, there are many international students from all around the world who live in the San Francisco Bay area which is where my practice is located. Young Indian software engineers look to many countries to have the opportunity to have good jobs after college when they’re adults. And there is migration out of India for example to Australia and Canada and the United States. So if somebody is trying to go as a young professional to Australia or Canada those immigration systems are point base, they’re merits based, you calculate how many, you know what your education is, what languages you speak, what professional certifications you speak, and if you get enough points then you have a chance to go live in that country. Well, that’s great for a lot of people, they like that. But a lot of people really want to come to the United States whether it’s for the culture, the work environment, the opportunity to start a business and have that business thrive from the resources in Silicon Valley.

Our laws are favorable for business but are complex so far as immigration. Is that a fair statement? People want to be educated here and then, stay and work. Correct?

There are a lot of laws here that are favorable to business. So, for many reasons people really want to come to the United States. But our immigration system is set up differently so it’s kind of crazy if you think about it in a way. So, for somebody to come to a United States University to get a bachelor’s degree, they typically would get an F1 student visa. And in order to do that they have to prove to the U.S. consular official at the embassy or the consulate in their home country where they’re going for the interview. They have complete ties to their home country. They’re just coming to be a student and after they graduate they’re going to go back home to their home country. They have money there, they have property, they have family, all of their ties are in their home country and they have no intention of staying in the United States after they graduate. And that’s just completely crazy because if you’re going to spend $100,000 so that your child can go to college in California maybe it’s $200,000 now, I don’t even know. You want your child, you want your adult son or daughter to be able to actually live in the United States and practice the profession that they’ve studied so hard for and that you’ve put so many resources into.

I asked her what the path for foreign students is and what are their options.

So what typically happens for F1 students, is when they graduate if they get a bachelor’s degree or a master’s or even a Ph.D. they get one year of optional practical training. So they get a one year work permit and they’re allowed to stay here and they’re allowed to get a job and make money and they’re allowed to just work for one year and then they have to go home. If they’re lucky and they made the choice to study in a STEM field which is science, technology, education or math, they can get a conditional work permit for two years. So that means on the outside you’ve got three years to work after you get your degree and then what’s your next move?

Well, you have basically one of three options in that situation. Either you find an employer who you like, and isn’t mistreating you, who’s happy to sponsor you for a green card and invest you know $10,000 or $20,000 if not more, into your immigration process. They sponsor you for an H-1B Visa. You’re lucky enough to get selected in the lottery that only happens once a year and only has a one in three chance of you getting selected and then the employer is still happy with you, they haven’t gone bankrupt, they don’t have layoffs. And then they sponsor you for the green card process. You know this could easily take 15 years if you’re from India or China. So that’s one option that has a lot of uncertainty.

Another option is to fall in love and marry U.S. citizen and intend to spend a life together and get a green card that way. But I’m guessing most parents of 22 year olds who have just paid for their son or daughter to go to a U.S. university do not want them to follow that path.

The third option where you actually have some control in the matter is the EB-5 route because if you can give your son or daughter the investment capital as a guest and they can apply as an investor themselves into a regional center to get a United States Green Card. And so we’ve helped people do that and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’re in control of the process is huge because the stress of the other routes can really wear on people psychologically.


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 https://www.eb5eb5.com/eb-5-podcast/.

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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