‘Life-changing’ EB-5 program provides American dream for Hong Kong family
By Fang Tian, EB5 Investors Magazine Staff
The moment Danny Lo stepped into his new house in Austin, Texas, the 42-year-old father knew he had made the best choice for his family.
“My kids had never seen a big house like this before,” Lo said. “They were over the moon!”
According to Lo, a similar house in his native Hong Kong would cost a fortune. Fortunately, Austin is considerably more affordable, which allows Lo’s two children — ages 7 and 11 — to enjoy spacious bedrooms and the family’s own garden.
“They run around the house all day,” Lo said.
What makes Lo feels most relieved, however, is knowing that his children have access to high-quality education. His family lives in a top-tier school district, giving his children one of the best public education the United States has to offer.
“This is all because of the EB-5 program,” Lo said.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Lo has mixed feelings about his home city, where his parents still live. When Lo and his wife started their family there, they wanted to offer better educational and life opportunities for their children. Lo worried most about the quality of Hong Kong’s education. As an established financial analyst who holds a Ph.D. in mathematical finance, Lo did not feel the quality of schools there lived up to his standards. According to him, education was expensive, but the result was unsatisfactory.
CONSIDERING HIS OPTIONS
He believed it was time to relocate his family. He thought about the U.K., a country he knew first-hand through his 10 years living and studying there. But he wasn’t impressed enough by it.
“I know the U.K. very well, but I’ve also traveled to the U.S. many times for work,” Lo said. “It is quite clear to me that the U.S. is better than the U.K. for the future of my children in many aspects.”
The standard of living is one of them.
“For something very simple, such as sizes of houses, houses in the U.S. are much bigger,” Lo said.
The ease of integration was another reason Lo favored the U.S. over the U.K. He believed it would be easier for his family to understand and absorb the culture of American society.
“In general, I think the U.S. is more receptive to immigrants,” Lo said.
What drove his final decision was a visit to a local public school in Austin, where his sister was already living. While watching presentations, Lo got a taste of the kind of education his children could get in a leading U.S. school district. He was impressed by the creativity and practical skills the students demonstrated.
“I think that it is something that not many Hong Kong students can do when they graduate,” Lo said. He was determined to give his children education opportunities of the same quality.
LAUNCHING HIS EB-5 JOURNEY
Lo figured EB-5 was a natural choice. He knew a passive investment route like the EB-5 regional center program could serve his immigration goals while sparing him from the risks of managing a business in an unfamiliar environment. Even after comparing programs offered by other major immigration destinations, Lo thought the EB-5 program stood out.
“Among all the investment immigration programs, EB-5 has one of the lowest requirements,” Lo said. “It is reasonable in terms of the amounts of investment. That’s why I chose it.”
Lo’s EB-5 journey kicked off with six months of comprehensive research. As an investment banking expert specializing in risk management and loan underwriting, Lo didn’t find the due-diligence process very challenging. He was able to independently scrutinize projects, analyze loan structures and evaluate the feasibility of business plans.
However, he set the bar high.
“Of all 10 projects I reviewed, I think only one or two of them were acceptable,” Lo said.
He was able to identify problematic issues in offerings that might be overlooked by other investors without a financial background like his. According to Lo, some projects put EB-5 investors in a very vulnerable position in the capital stack; some didn’t specify the consequences for the loan arrangers if they failed to make repayments.
For investors who don’t have the expertise to spot these kinds of issues, Lo says it is crucial to work with a reputable EB-5 provider with a long track record.
“There are reasons behind a good track record,” Lo said. “Good providers structure their deals in a way that protects the investors.”
Like many potential EB-5 investors, Lo turned to eb5investors.com for information. He contacted the company and discussed his concerns with an adviser who provided suggestions.
In April 2017, Lo made his EB-5 investment in the Virgin Miami Central station project sponsored by CanAm Enterprises. The project is a mixed-use residential and commercial complex above downtown Miami’s train station.
CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY
While waiting for his case’s adjudication, Lo said he felt very concerned. The increasing uncertainty in U.S. immigration policies and the tension between China and the U.S. made him anxious. He was worried that a sudden change of rules or an unexpected executive order would jeopardize his application — and his family’s future.
Fortunately, Lo’s application was approved, 14 months after his petition was filed.
“I’m glad that none of my concerns happened,” Lo said.
In May 2019, Lo and his family arrived at their new house in Austin as conditional green card holders. Lo loves his new location. He likes Austin’s warm weather, Texas’ low taxes and the area’s highly sought-after school district. He says all this has made his EB-5 efforts worthwhile.
Lo sees great career prospects for himself as well. The influx of talent and a booming local economy boost his confidence in having a future in the Lone Star State. According to him, there are abundant opportunities in the local banking and financial industries for someone who has highly technical and transferrable skills.
“The U.S. economy is very good now,” Lo said. “There are good opportunities in almost every sector of every industry here. I’m not concerned about getting a job.”
Looking back to his immigration journey, Lo feels delighted that he chose the U.S. and participated in EB-5. He is confident that he has prepared his children for a bright future and brought positive changes to his whole family.
“EB-5 has really changed my life, my children’s lives and the lives of many future generations,” Lo said. “It is a change for the better.”