Even dependent visa holder are considering options like the investment-based EB-5
Visas, a hot-button topic in these times when views on immigration polarize the country, was fodder for a panel at TiE Inflect 2018.
Aimed at non-US citizens, attorneys and a venture capitalist discussed how to overcome the many challenges immigrants face and described visas other than the once they held that might help them. The conference also had a special half-day panel focused solely on the EB5 visa, awarded to those who bring investment and employment to the country.
At that panel attorneys said Indians were not as aggressive as Chinese are about EB 5 visas because they lacked knowledge about the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
The EB 5 visa is one of the best to get a green card within a couple of years and there is no backlog, unlike China, said Abhinav Lohia, vice president, India & the Middle East, at CanAm Enterprises, LLC.
The program requires minimum $500,000 investment either within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States and to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified US workers.
Lohia told indica he was pleased to receive over 300 queries at the conference on the EB5 visa,
“There is a lot of backlog and uncertainty around H1 B, and EB5 seems to be only viable for anyone who wants a green card in less than two years,” he said, adding that queries come in not just from people on H-1B visas but also those on dependent H4 visas.
“I see lots of interest here,” he said.
Lohia based in New York, said CanAm Enterprises, LLC operates seven USCIS-designated regional centers, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Texas, Florida and New York.
The Indian market has been growing rapidly, at a rate of 30 to 40 percent per year since 2013-14. There were only 99 visas filed in 2013-2014 but last year there was 500, he said. He added things are getting busy now because of the current immigration narrative. People are looking at options. Earlier people used to think, I am on an H 1B visa. I am safe, and I can live and work in the US forever.
“But that’s not the case anymore. Now even the visa renewals are getting denials. Everyone is looking to get a green card. So EB5 is the only option. And people are willing to spend,” he said.
He said the money invested on EB 5, could be inheritance and loan against property or gift from parents.
When asked where most of the investments are made in the US, Lohia said that primarily its real estate and infrastructure and the reason is simple and it’s about creating American jobs. With each investment at least 10 jobs need to be created.
Jay Terkiana, a lead immigration attorney at SAC Attorneys LLP, speaking at the panel on startups and non-US citizen founders said that while the Trump administration is more anti-immigration, coming up with more restrictive laws, welcomed site visit by government agents since this force every company to be in compliance with regulations.
“We have set up lots of startups and small companies – even with one to two employees. As long as they are in compliance and satisfy the minimum requirements there should not be any problem,” he said.
He said there are several options for startup founders: EB5, H 1B and L1. Even under the Trump administration, he said has not seen any drop in a number of visas.
“In fact, our number has increased since him inheriting the office,” he said and added and it will continue since more students are coming for education and employment options.
“We are seeing a trend there of more young entrepreneurs coming up,” he said. “They graduate and already have a plan and want to set up their own companies,” he said and added most of these students are Asian – from China and a larger percentage from India.
Lucas Rocha, an investor at Unshackled Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on foreign-born entrepreneurs speaking about entrepreneurship and non-US immigrant founders as a whole said half of the most important and meaningful companies in the US have at least one immigrant founder.
“The economic impact of having an immigrant founder in the US is huge,” Rocha said. “I believe there is huge potential if it is unlocked.”