BY JAMES CORMIE
I have spent the past two months extensively travelling around China to cities that include Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and many others to meet with immigrant investor clients to discuss the EB-5 process. The following represent some of the most frequently asked questions from EB-5 investors on the ground:
- When do I get my green card?
Chinese investors are very keen to USCIS processing times and the virtual standstill of the adjudication of I-526 petitions. Current posted processing times are from March 2012 but some centers have experienced faster processing. Subsequent immigrant visa application processing generally runs 6-8 months through the U.S. Consulate in Guanzhou.
- Are IMPLAN and REDYN an acceptable economic methodology for predicting jobs?
With the discontinuation of RIMS II by the BEA, many Regional Center projects have begun to use IMPLAN and REDYN as their economic methodology for calculating indirect and induced jobs. Although USCIS considers IMPLAN and REDYN as acceptable methodologies for calculating jobs, Chinese investors like government proof of this fact. Regional Centers should be prepared to present their approval notices along with minutes from stakeholder meetings which show that the government recognizes both of these alternative methodologies.
- What is the necessary construction timeline for counting indirect jobs?
Most projects today include a construction element for job creation. As a result, a frequent question from investors is about the creation of a sufficient number of jobs from construction. Investors can count both direct and indirect jobs per the Neufeld 2009 memorandum if the construction time period last at least two years.
- Is there going to be an increased investment amount soon from $500,000 (TEA investment amount) to a proposed $750,000?
One amendment to the comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744) passed by the Senate was to increase the investment threshold to $750,000. Of course, it is very difficult to predict the success of the bill as the House will begin to take up CIR again this month. However, at this time it is best to advise investors that they will be grandfathered at the $500,000 amount for an investment in a TEA until the new legislation takes effect.
- What does “at risk” mean?
In China, the government tends to protect investors from failing. As such, investors sometimes have questions about the “at risk” requirement means. It is generally best to be straightforward and clear, and explain that the EB-5 program requires the investment to be just like any other business investment in the sense that if fortunes reverse, the investment and the green card process can fail.
At agent roadshows, investor showcases and symposiums and in one-on-one meetings for the most part Chinese investors have already done their research regarding the EB-5 program and as a result, most of their questions will relate to project specific questions such as capital stack, deal terms, and job creation for the project itself.