First, Qualify the Client
Our firm has had clients who looked like good matches for the EB-5 program, but once we dug deep into their personal and business circumstances, we realized that an L-1A or E-2 visa was a better visa for the client. We urge anyone considering an EB-5 visa to first review their suitability for the visa with an experienced U.S. immigration attorney before moving to the selection of a Regional Center.
Integrated Legal and Financial Insight
Financial insight is not enough to evaluate a regional center. The legal issues are just as important as the financial issues. I don’t think you would be too happy to get your money back someday from a regional center project but find out that the center hadn’t properly managed the job creation requirements of the EB-5 visa or the prohibition against “material change” (two of the most complex and vexing issues in immigration law, even for top EB-5 attorneys), and, so, we’re terribly sorry, but you and your family have 120 days to depart the U.S.
The EB-5 visa is widely regarded as one of the most complex areas in all of U.S. immigration law. Many issues are unsettled and require the judgment of an experienced immigration attorney. The law is evolving, too, and so requires acute attention to the latest trends in USCIS adjudication standards. What’s more, the legal and financial issues are inextricably intertwined, so over-reliance on outside sources or second-hand legal opinions can lead to incomplete or outdated judgments about the centers. That’s why John Roth has dedicated his EB-5 practice to the mastery of both the legal and financial issues so as to give our firm’s clients the best possible real-time advice when evaluating the centers.
Center Selection through Education
EB-5 investors are typically sophisticated, experienced and successful businessmen, with capable and effective advisors. Their main difficulty when confronting the EB-5 Regional Centers is the sheer number of centers, the newness of the subject matter, and lack of an analytical framework for evaluating the centers. We have found that our EB-5 clients do not need us to decide which is the best center to achieve their financial and immigration needs. Rather, they need a counselor to act as an educator and information manager to help them develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the centers and the legal environment in which they operate.
Services for Immigration Attorneys
The vast majority of immigration attorneys avoid counseling their clients about the strengths and weaknesses of the various regional centers, and with good reason. The attorneys’ code of professional responsibility requires that attorneys provide advice only in areas where they are competent to provide such advice. Few attorneys have the training, experience or time to review the intricate financial issues present in regional center selection.
Nor do they wish to violate U.S. or state securities rules prohibiting anyone except licensed broker-dealers or their registered representatives from advising clients about investments in securities such as those offered by the regional centers. Nonetheless, the clients often request such advice and the attorney is reluctant to give the client no choice but to 1) rely on either self-help in an unfamiliar and complex field, or 2) to rely on unlicensed and unregulated business consultants, who themselves are difficult to evaluate for their competence or fealty to the client’s best interests. Our office can assist the immigration attorney when his/her client requests assistance with regional center selection by accepting a referral from the attorney for regional center due diligence with the following conditions:
We accept the case with the explicit, written understanding with the client that our firm will be providing solely due-diligence investment advice and will not act as the client’s immigration attorney either now or at any time in the future.
When the regional center has been selected by the client, we send the case back to the referring attorney for preparation of the I-526, and we remain a resource for both the investor and referring attorney for any questions regarding the selected regional center’s ongoing conformance with legal and financial requirements.