Is working with an immigration lawyer required? Technically, the answer is no. An I-526 form is something a petitioner could fill out on his or her own. But while an attorney is not required to fill out or file an I-526 application, the process is much more complex than just...
Technically, the answer is no. An
I-526 form is something a petitioner could fill out on his or her own. But
while an attorney is not required to fill out or file an I-526 application, the
process is much more complex than just a single form, and that’s the reason
most EB5 Green Card investors wisely choose to work with an attorney.
Complex documents, strict adherence to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) regulations, and ever-shifting policy interpretations make
working without a good immigration lawyer an extremely risky proposition.
A huge amount of money, time, and
your dreams are at stake. So it pays to make sure you do it right the first
time. The cost of a lawyer is a very small fraction of your investment amount;
make sure you partner with an experienced and trustworthy immigration lawyer.
American lawyers are governed by
rules that require a lawyer to place their clientʼs interests first and above
all else. Beyond this, the rules also dictate a lawyer provide his or her
client with service that is competent, diligent, and honest; and that lawyer
must also be honest when dealing with USCIS and other relevant government agencies.
Further, a lawyer must maintain confidentiality regarding their client
The EB-5 Green Card by investment program is regarded as one of the most specialized and
demanding areas in not just the sphere of immigration law but all of U.S. law.
It entails moving funds from one country to another in order to make an
investment that is required to result in job creation. While an I-526 petition
is just a few pages, the supporting documents for most EB-5 applications comprise
hundreds or thousands of pages.
One of the most critical issues an
EB-5 lawyer needs to deal with is the applicantʼs source of investment funds.
Providing the right documentation that fulfills regulatory requirements demands
knowledge of both the EB-5 program and the petitioner’s home country.
It is advisable to do your due
diligence on multiple lawyers before choosing to work with one. A critical
question to ask is not only how long have they’ve worked in EB-5, and how many
applicants have they represented, but what are their I-526 and I-829 approval
rates? A good lawyer should not hesitate to share this information — or answer
any questions you have.
A worthwhile EB 5 immigration attorney will have the experience and insight to
determine whether an applicant’s investment project is compliant with the most
current EB-5 regulations and policies. While the questions on an application
may seem relatively simple, the answers require a tremendous amount of program
An EB-5 petition needs to provide
evidence satisfying all of the program’s criteria including details regarding
the lawful source of funds, a business plan, and job creation requirements. It is worth noting that the interpretation of USCIS regulations is
often extremely complicated and a good lawyer will be invaluable in this
regard. He or she will also be able to tell you what documentation you need to
produce and guide you on all the forms and paperwork required by the EB-5
Also, while an immigration lawyer
should not help you select your EB5
investment, they should be able to understand
the job creation methodologies of that project to help determine that your
investment will likely comply with EB-5 regulations.
A good attorney will also be of service by asking
you the right questions, such as which country was your spouse born in, as your
petition may take advantage of faster processing times under certain
circumstances. And while an immigration attorney is not usually qualified to
advise you on investment selection, he or she should be able to address
potential immigration risks and guide you to work with an EB-5 investment
specialist or EB-5 tax specialist.
EB-5 investor applicants from different homelands
will have different issues that need to be addressed, often regarding source of
funds documentation — how capital was legally acquired can differ in different
countries. A lawyer, ideally, should be familiar with both the laws of a
petitioner’s homeland as well as USCIS EB
5 visa USA regulations.
Ask if a lawyer and her firm has experience, and
how much, working with applicants from your particular country. And inquire if
their law firm has an office in your country. Ask about approval rates specific
to your country.
Related to the issue of
country-specific experience is that of communication. Successfully navigating
the EB-5 process requires clear and effective communication between petitioner
and legal counsel. If you are more comfortable discussing legal documents and
matters in a language other than English, ensure your law firm of choice can
satisfy this need.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association
(AILA) is the national association for immigration lawyers.
Though it is not required that an immigration
lawyer be a member of the association, the vast majority of experienced
immigration lawyers are members.
A good immigration lawyer will have
limitations to his or her experience and expertise and you should understand
what they are. When a lawyer shares this with you, view such a disclosure as a
positive that they are fulfilling their professional duties of being honest and
protecting your interests.
In general, while an immigration
lawyer should be of valuable service in ensuring you comply with the
immigration requirements of the USA
Green Card program, know that in almost all cases
an immigration lawyer is not qualified to guide you on choosing an appropriate
regional center or project in which to invest your capital.
Choosing an investment offering or EB5 regional center
is a very sophisticated field of specialization beyond immigration law and
requires the due diligence of a third party who specializes in evaluating EB-5
investments. Also know that a lawyer should not advise that an investment
project or regional center is right for you because it resulted in success for
another of their EB-5 clients.
Regarding retrogression, the
significant EB5 news is applicants from certain oversubscribed countries may
be facing much longer processing times, thus requiring a longer-than-average
sustainment of their investment. This is expertise outside the sphere of most
immigration lawyers. A responsible attorney should advise you about whom to
consult with in such a case.
As a lawyer is bound to serve the
interests of his or her client, they are required to consider if a client’s
interests potentially conflict with the interest of another client, or even if
there is a conflict with the lawyer’s own interests.
Because the rules
require fidelity to a clientʼs interests, professionally responsible counsel
should carefully consider whether a conflict of interest could compromise their
obligations to a potential client. An immigration lawyer should not be advising
an EB-5 petitioner client on what investment to select. If a lawyer will
receive compensation by the Issuer of an investment, this arrangement must be
disclosed to a petitioner client. A lack of such a disclosure is unethical and
most likely a breach of legal rules, and may be in violation of Securities
laws. Before choosing your lawyer, be fully aware of whom that lawyer is
EB-5 is not only a highly
specialized immigration field but an ever-changing one. Not only do new
regulations become implemented but the interpretations of older regulations
have a history of shifting — and sometimes without official publication.
Understand that mere “project approval” from USCIS is very limited and provides
no guarantee of a petitioner’s application. And realize that USCIS may suddenly
change its interpretations of even established regulations. A good immigration
lawyer who stays current with developments in the industry is imperative.
Fundamental to the very nature of
the EB-5 investment Green Card program is the concept of risk; in fact, it is a USCIS
requirement that a petitioner’s investment be “at risk” throughout the
petitioning process. Thus, no immigration lawyer should ever promise that you
will receive your Green Card or the return of your investment capital. Again,
good lawyers must be honest with their clients, and the truth of the matter is
that no EB-5 outcome can ever be guaranteed.
The cost of most EB-5 immigration lawyers is usually at least $15,000 (USD) and fees can go substantially higher, depending on a particular lawyer’s experience, firm and success rate. Once again, while your money is hard earned and should not be spent without careful consideration, understand that legal fees are just a very small portion of the overall capital you are investing. A good EB-5 lawyer is worth his or her weight in gold — or Green Cards.
Beverly Hills, California, United States
San Francisco, CA, United States
Ithaca, NY, United States
Houston, TX, United States
Miami, FL, United States
Mercer Island, WA, United States
Philadelphia, PA, United States
Los Angeles, CA, United States
Costa Mesa, CA, United States
Washington, DC, United States
- OR -
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