By Marta Lillo
In the dynamic world of U.S. business immigration, business plan writing can make or break an application.
Matt Khalili, CEO and founder of Plan Writers, offers insight to investors seeking to navigate the complex web of EB-5 requirements since he started his firm in 2017, headquartered in El Segundo, Calif. His main goal is to provide sound, USCIS-compliant business plans for EB-5.
Khalili has found that clients are requiring as much guidance as quality writing services. Rooted in his journey as an entrepreneur, he understands the challenges faced by business owners seeking residency in the U.S.
"We really dig deep into the essence and spirit of the program and really help immigrants who aren't well versed in this country to see viable business opportunities in the U.S.," says Khalili.
HELPING EB-5 INVESTORS PRESENT BUSINESS PLANS BEYOND COMPLIANCE
He insists that educating while orienting and presenting a compelling business plan requires skills pivotal in any immigration team counseling EB-5 investors.
"I really look at myself as the quarterback," Khalili said. "We work hand in hand with clients, and oftentimes, I get clients that come to me first to help them pick their entire team. Because as business plan writers, we have the privilege of seeing all different players in the ecosystem. So, we can be a trusted advisor (…) We have the privilege of dealing with diversity, with people from all around the world and very unique cases."
TRENDS SHAPING THE EB-5 LANDSCAPE FROM A BUSINESS PLAN PERSPECTIVE
Khalili says the EB-5 landscape is thriving with emerging trends and changes since the implementation of the Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA).
First, shorter, investor-focused business plans are increasingly passing the USCIS scrutiny. Regardless of the nature or size of the investment, plans highlighting sources of funds, direct job creation, and critical technical components are gaining traction.
"I'm finding more success with shorter plans that align with what investors are looking for. And that means proformas showing real assumptions, showing sources. Highlighting the key points, talking to a human being, not making it overly technical and overly complicated," Khalili explains.
He also notes immigration officers are more focused on their application processing, driving the demand for concise and substantiated information. "They don't want to see so much fluff, long documents of extraneous detail."
As for the type of projects behind better-performing business plans in EB-5 applications, he identifies two compelling features: owner-occupied facilities and reshoring.
The first would be gaining favor among investors because they provide better chances of direct job creation than management projects, increasing their chances of approval.
"With RIA, you can't pool direct jobs anymore. We're starting to see direct EB-5 projects. Now people that want to pool operating ventures need to use regional centers, so we get the benefit of construction for creating jobs and we get the benefit of tenant job creation and any sort of direct job creation,” he said.
As a second trend, Khalili says reshoring resonates better with USCIS's demands as it brings jobs back to the U.S. and builds on current supply chain, technology, and automation trends.
"Nothing is more beautiful to an immigration officer's ears than to see reshoring jobs abroad in a regional center, in direct EB-5 investments, creating jobs in the U.S.," he said.
THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS PLANS IN EB-5 APPLICATIONS
Khalili foresees an EB-5 industry that thrives on tangible job creation and viable business opportunities.
He adds that providing successful, well-crafted business plans in this landscape is paramount to making this future real. For them to work, he believes any potential project pitched to EB-5 investors should meet three features: "One is marketable. Second, a commercially viable business that's going to actually work in the marketplace based on all the benchmarks and trends we see. And definitely the third, practical in creating the amount of jobs."