Many EB-5 investors think if I only invest $500,000 or $1m ($900,000 or $1.8m if filing on or after November 21, 2019), then I will get a green card in the mail. Here is one client’s story.
In June of 2017, after receiving a Request for Further Evidence (“RFE”) on the second Form I-526 submitted after investing in his hobby, toy, and game store located on Long Beach, CA back in 2012, EB-5 investor Mr. O. was at his wits’ end. His prior Form I-526 had been denied after a drawn-out adjudication with the Administrative Appeals Office (“AAO”) concerning his business plan and inconsistencies in the record on his investment. The new RFE raised similar issues USCIS had denied his case for in the past, and also requested additional evidence to demonstrate that Mr. O’s hobby store continued its “actual undertaking of business activity.” Further complicating the situation was the fact that he had been denied entry into the U.S. on a B visa after being deemed inadmissible under INA § 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) as an intending immigrant without an immigrant visa in August of 2016 and therefore could not directly manage the day-to-day business. Mr. O. called Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP (WR) for EB-5 legal advice.
To save the EB-5 case, Wolfsdorf attorneys worked with an experienced business plan writer to provide an updated and detailed fact-based analysis on how his hobby store, which had already created 4 new, full-time positions for qualifying U.S. workers, would continue to grow through the expansion of its brick-and-mortar shop and increasing its online sales. An accountant was retained to provide an opinion regarding an issue that plagued his first Form I-526 – whether his initial investment was made as a contribution of equity, or as debt. Despite the compelling evidence submitted, USCIS still denied the case.
Nevertheless, WR continued the fight, and after submission of a motion to reconsider and a motion to reopen, the AAO agreed that Mr. O. had sufficiently demonstrated that due to the nature and projected size of his company, “the need for not fewer than 10 qualifying employees” would result within the two years that began after adjudication of the instant Form I-526 in accordance with 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(j)(4)(i)(B) and USCIS’ policy. Mr. O.’s Form I-526 approval notice was delivered, and soon thereafter, he filed for an immigrant visa.
But that wasn’t the end of Mr. O.’s troubles. The U.S. Embassy in his home then refused to issue him an immigrant visa based on a misunderstanding of EB-5 eligibility requirements for the reduced minimum investment amount in a targeted employment area. The Consular Officer noted the hobby store’s location was near Los Angeles, and not in a rural area, and therefore put Mr. O.’s visa application in “Administrative Processing.” The Wolfsdorf legal team jumped in again and submitted a legal brief, clarifying Mr. O.’s investment in a U.S. company located in a high unemployment area or Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and providing updated documentation that it employed U.S. workers in furtherance of the goals of the EB-5 Program.
The U.S. Embassy then issued the immigrant visa, and Mr. O. entered the United States in July of 2019. He has finally visited his store after a three-year absence and is now working to ramp up operations and create more jobs for U.S. workers.
Mr. O. writes: “I’m very appreciative that the Wolfsdorf team battled for me against the immigration bureaucracy. I sincerely believe they did an amazing job, saving a losing case, and this has changed my life. When I first reached out, I had only a limited time to respond to the RFE, and everybody else reached out to for help was just trying to make a quick buck leveraging my desperate position. Attorney Joey Barnett was the only one who not only made me feel right, but also agreed to work on fair price and term (such commitment is what separates a good attorney with good ethics from the rest). I just cannot say thank you enough! Money cannot buy what they did! Thank you WR”