PressSixty minutes with Yana Albrecht

March 19, 20220
60 Minutes

1. Bay Immigration Law has become a top tier law firm in the field of US Immigration Visa services. Please tell us a bit more about your company and what makes you so special ?

At its heart, Bay Immigration Law is a law firm steeped in the entrepreneurial spirit in the region in which it has grown, namely, in the Silicon Valley area of California, where some of the most well-known high technology companies have been formed. Most have had a common desire to change the world in some meaningful and lasting way. That’s part of the legend of the American dream, and that’s part of what drives our work for each and every client. Every day, we help clients find the best path for their particular case and keep things moving in the right direction.

Our specialty is with clients who are founders and entrepreneurs, and Silicon Valley tends to attract extraordinary individuals who want to translate their vision for a new company, new investment, or new invention into reality as quickly as possible. The professionals in our law firm not only have years of experience in corporate and individual cases, but also bring their own diversity and cultural understanding to enhance the clients’ case and present the best one possible. We are known in the industry for being highly accessible to our clients, and for finding creative solutions where other law firms may fail to see one. We are fully hands-on and take over the entire immigration strategy and execution process, so that our clients can focus on their business without worrying about optimal immigration strategies and the immigration statuses of their critical employees.

I expect the turbulence we see in the world will convince many more people to consider investing in less riskier places that nevertheless hold the promise for high returns, such as in the United States.

3. A more cost-efficient route to US Residency these days seems to be the E2-Treaty Investor Visa, how long does it take to get an E2-Visa and what are the main requirements ?

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa differs from the EB-5 program in three ways that I highlight for our clients. First, it is a non-immigrant visa, meaning it is not intended for people who want to live permanently in the United States (although it theoretically can be renewed for as long as the investment remains profitable, which most would consider to be almost the same as permanent permission to remain in the United States). However, it is technically not a US Residency.

Second, the regulations require that investors make a “substantial” investment, but they do not define exactly what U.S. dollar amount is considered substantial. The commonly understood minimum investment is $100,000, but some investors place less at risk. This is why many investors consider the E-2 visa to be more cost-efficient. Third, the investment does not have to be in a TEA or Regional Center as for EB-5 program – it can be located anywhere, and can be in any kind of legal business. This relates back to the first point above – in an EB-5 investment, the capital is locked away for a period of years, but in an E-2 investment, the investor can at any time pull the capital back out and walk away from the investment (although that also means giving up the right to remain in the United States on the E-2 visa classification).

The main requirements to obtain the E-2 visa include being a citizen of a treaty country with the United States, investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona-fide enterprise in the United States; and if one is the principal investor, entering solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. The principal investor has to have at least 50% ownership of
the investment, and operational control, through a managerial position or other corporate device. An E-2 visa can also be granted to an essential employee having the same nationality as the treaty investor(s)

4. How do you see the trend for EB-5 and E-2 within the next 3-5 years?

The Biden Administration made many campaign promises about immigration reform, but as everyone knows, migrants’ issues are extremely difficult to address in any political context. Today, we have so many other competing problems – the COVID pandemic, scaled-back hopes for democratic progress; climate change and energy, among many others. Still, those problems continue to present opportunities for anyone willing to take risks. For some, wealth brings such opportunities, whether to consider getting an EB-5 or the E2 investor visa. I expect the turbulence we see in the world will convince many more people to consider investing in less riskier places that nevertheless hold the promise for high returns, such as in the United States.

With inflation pressures, one could imagine that politicians might think about raising the minimum thresholds for any kind of visa, including the investor visas. A million dollars just doesn’t buy you as much as it did from even just last year. But, I see little cause to think there will be any such change in U.S. immigration laws coming into force in 2022.

60-minutes with yana
2. With the US passport ranked as the most powerful passport in the world, US citizenship is an important asset for any international investor. What’s the latest news on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program,which has been turbulent the last few years?

There has been quite a lot of debate in the United States about different paths to citizenship, given the well-recognized value of the U.S. passport when doing business in the global marketplace, or when taking a welldeserved vacation as a U.S. tourist. Our firm starts with a global view, and we are always ready to help international investors decide what and where makes sense as the next best investment for them, whether it is in the United States or elsewhere. The United States is not the only country with a program like the EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa program.

The EB-5 program is a way to get permanent residence in the US by making an investment of $500,000 in a targeted area (TEA), or $1 million if outside a TEA, if also increasing local employment. The investment has to be made in a real and active enterprise, creating full time jobs for US residents. In 2019, the U.S. government proposed almost doubling those minimum amounts, but that move was set aside by litigation. The EB-5 program provided two possible investment routes – direct investment and Regional Center investment (also known as passive investment).

On June 30, 2021, the U.S. Congress allowed the Regional Center program to lapse. There is some reason to hope the Congress will reauthorize the Regional Centers in 2022, however there is no exact date for this decision to be made, therefore the uncertainty and some extent of turbulence remains. Whether the Regional Center program is reauthorized or not, EB-5 program itself remains viable today for those willing to pursue the direct investment path (into existing business or new enterprise).

Liberty

Farther into the future, I think more investors will diversify from traditional businesses into more modern platforms. To be sure, we’ve had clients succeed in import businesses, logistics businesses, real estate, and so forth, but perhaps given our position in Silicon Valley, we are now also seeing investments in what I would consider more idiosyncratic industries such as crypto-currency mining.

5. Finally - What's the best piece of advice given to you?

Even though I’m in the advice business, I think of advice as such a gift – someone takes the time to observe you, what you’re doing well, or what you’re maybe not doing so well, and then goes out of their way to offer a suggestion to make things better. I think I’ll choose the advice given to me that may be most relevant for the discussion we’ve just had about investor visas: Invest in yourself first, build an investing habit, and start now.

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