By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai–A large number of Indians are queuing up to invest in businesses in the US through the EB-5 Investor Visa which assures migration with a quicker eligibility for acquiring the Green Card.
In the past four years or so, the number of high networth individuals, corporate executives and businessmen opting for the EB-5 visas has nearly tripled, with over 350 applications in 2016.
A prominent expert and Managing Director of US Freedom Capital, David Gunderson, says though the 2017 figures are awaited, EB5 — also known as the “golden visa” — is gaining huge popularity due to “tightening of other visa categories, a more transparent EB-5 process and more Indian HNIs showing appetite for a global footprint”.
At present, under the EB-5, an Indian is required to invest $500,000 (Rs 3.2 crore) for self, spouse, and any number of unmarried children, he said.
According to latest reports from the US, the Trump Administration plans to hike this amount to $920,000 per applicant in the regular category.
“There is no minimum education or income requirements, except to prove that the investment amount is legitimately earned from business, profession, inheritance, gift or even a loan against collateral,” Gunderson told IANS in a chat recently.
Among various investment options, the US Freedom Capital has introduced the EB-5 FD+Green Card scheme for $1 million, that offers an eight per cent return — against the industry standard of 0.5 per cent for the five-year investment period.
“We intend to provide higher targeted returns than an Indian fixed deposit, which will allow the investors get Green Cards for self-and-family plus an attractive return on investment,” Gunderson said. He said Freedom Capital’s proposal is virtually tailor-made for Indians who prefer smaller projects with low risks but high yields.
“The eight per cent returns are not guaranteed since we follow the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidelines. But US Freedom Capital usually offers higher yield returns, a carefully structured risk mitigation with our strong team of professional experts modifying the structure of conventional investments to qualify for the EB-5 Investor Visas benefits,” Gunderson explained.
The team includes US ex-Ambassador to Spain, Eduardo Aguirre, who also headed Bank of America’s International Private Banking and was later appointed by former US President George W. Bush as Director, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Also, there is Michael J. Petrucelli, a former Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State and then Acting Director of USCIS, besides being a registered investment banker and investment advisor.
The investments under this (FD+Green Card) are made in core real estate projects, parallel to the investments in US Freedom Capital Funds, with jobs created to fulfill the EB-5 Visa requirements, while current yield and risk mitigation are generated through investments in existing cash flow properties.
“Though we have clearly stated eight per cent returns are not guaranteed, the risk profile of FD+Green Card investment is designed to be lower than any pure EB-5 visa investments via the realty sector,” he said.
Elaborating, Gunderson said US Immigration permits only investments that are risky to qualify for EB-5 visa, but rewards them with a Green Card for their capital and creating at least 10 new jobs.
So, the EB-5 applicants must select investments carefully as all are not filed with SEC and bad projects may escape scrutiny, he cautioned.
He said US Freedom Capital offers investments under the supervision of SEC by principals with US investment banking and investment management licences.
It has several small-scale projects in the residential, health and education sectors in the range of $8-10 million, which materialise within three years, with a limited, three to 30 EB-5, investors who can get their capital back at the end of five years.
The company has already delivered 90 percent of its projects and the investors will get back their capital, unlike big projects where they must wait to be repaid as there could be 100 to 2,500 EB-5 investors tied in a single project, Gunderson said.
After getting the EB-5, the applicant is free to live and work anywhere in the US — like any other US national — while the Green Card is processed, currently averaging at almost two years, depending on volumes.
With a 100 percent approval rate to its credit, the US Freedom Capital also helps investors and their families with introductions and assistance for their relocation to the US, right from tax planning to getting a cable connection.
Currently, India ranks third after China and Vietnam in terms of investors under the EB-5 Visas, with China cornering a lion’s share of around 85 percent of all applicants.