Why invest on EB-5 conditional green card program, when you can migrate under unconditional investor entrepreneur programs for lesser amounts?

June 11, 2018 12:50 PM

By Ajay Sharma
A number of investors seem to be lining up to capitalize on business opportunities in the US through the EB-5 Investor program or as we say the million-dollar green card program. Under this particular conditional visa category, you along with your spouse and unmarried children (under 21 year of age) are eligible to apply for a US green card. Anyone successful under the EB-5 fifth preference visa category will be granted a conditional permanent residence status that is valid for two years.

Just to put it in simpler term, one can say that EB-5 is a paid green card visa category, where an investor is likely to create a minimum of 10 jobs by investing at least $500,000 through a regional center for 2 years (which is also your conditional PR validity). The over-all expected cost along with the investment and processing fee may lead to a total of $575,000.

EB-5 vs. Global Investor Programs
On a global scale, one may find a pool of opportunities to migrate through investment, which will be much more attractive than the EB-5 because of cost, processing time and the associated risk. As a global investor, it is very important to compare the EB-5 to other countries competitive investor programs, not only to keep note of the required investment amount but also to know key factors for time & investment risks.

Migrating through EB-5 vs. Migrating to Canada via Entrepreneur route
Investors who would qualify for the Canada’s investor Immigration Programs would generally obtain an unconditional Canadian residential status for themselves and their dependents. As well, investors make the investment only after the Quebec government clears the application. In case of EB-5 green card program, one must make the entire investment and expense at the time of filing the application. And entire investment stays blocked irrespective of how long the processing takes and It may happen that investment may mature for refund and application may not even be approved! There is no such risk in case of Canada IIP (Immigrant investor program)

Canada’s immigrant investor has the idea that if he qualified, he qualified for good. That is not the case with EB-5 program. According to a Chinese investor – “today, we can expect the EB-5 visa process to take eight years or even longer, and even after enduring the multi-year, opaque, bureaucratic application process, each EB-5 investor must literally risk losing residency status if the required jobs are not created within a specified window of time.”

That’s one of the pitfalls of this million-dollar green card program, as one would NOT let himself and his family be subject to 8 years of uncertainty for securing a new life, their children’s educational plans, their joint career goals. Even Indian’s will need to wait for 2-3 years to wait for complete process to be over under EB-5 green card program. Another reservation of EB-5 program is that the investment made by the prospective immigrant is under the control of the regional center. He has no control over usage and application of his funds. Safety and return on investment – both are at risk. In case of Canada IIP, one knows the fixed cost of acquiring the resident visa and after landing he invests his funds in his own business or enterprise and manages it!!

Then there are entrepreneur immigrant programs offered by various provinces in Canada. While most of them are conditional, they have the advantage of almost negligible investment and quick processing times with minimum local hiring requirements. What is more, one is required to make investment post visa and landing in Canada and gets to manage his own funds. Canada also has an advantage of permitting children up-to 22 years to go as dependents and even older if they continue to be financially dependent on parents and full time students.

The EB-5 and the Bulgaria Investor Immigration Program
As an ideal gateway into the European economy, Bulgaria boasts a flamboyantly diverse cultural, moderate climate and perfect location for travel and work in and around the continent. Bulgaria’s Citizenship by Investment Program helps you attain the residency within 6 to 9 months’ timeframe with an easy option for citizenship within 18-24 years. There is no restriction as investments are preapproved by Government (with financing options from available from banks) and there’s no requirement for language skill. The best thing for an immigrant is that he/she does not even have to worry about relinquishing their nationality. As a Bulgarian citizen you have every right to live, work and study in any of the 27 EU countries, including Switzerland and Norway due to the bilateral agreements with the EU. One also has the advantage of including dependent parents and non-dependent children and siblings as part of the application.

How UK Tier-1 visa triumphs over the EB-5
In contrast to the EB-5, The U.K offers two Tier-1 visas - Entrepreneur visa and Investor visas– from its arsenal, these visa categories are said to be very up-to-date and easy to understand, with less involvement of investment risks. Tier-1 Entrepreneur program entails an investment of only £200,000 which is calculatedly 40% less than the requirement for the EB-5. The job creation requirement involves you to virtually invest in any business is limited to 2 employees. An investor can obtain a U.K. visa under either of its Tier-1 entrepreneur programs within 8-16 weeks, eventually leading to permanent residency status after 5 years, whereas the EB-5 requires several years to complete.

The U.S. requires EB-5 investors to bet both a significant investment of capital and their and their family’s residency status on whether their investment will result in a significant amount of verified job creation in a narrow window of time.
This risk is enormous compared to any other program in the world. It is critical for U.S. policymakers to keep these competitive realities in mind as they increase – intentionally or unintentionally – the cost, time and risk associated with each EB-5 investment.

Based on the above findings we see that the EB-5 is great option for you but the risks associated with it is far greater. Like Canada, Bulgaria, and the U.K. program leaves much to be desired from an investors’ perspective which give much broader canvas for him/her to paint their life’s success. Make a wise decision as per your specific needs, family and business situations. Whether USA, Canada, UK or Europe, make the right choice after considering all above factors.

The writer Ajay Sharma is an immigration & visa consultant

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