Monday, October 26, 2009

EB-5 Jeebies- Regional Center Investment Misinformation Abounds

Look, I'm TRYING HARD here, guys.  I'm not really interested in naming names or getting people angry but I'll tell you what: if some of the more BALONEY-laden EB-5 Regional Centers and lawyers don't get a grip on the nonsense they spreading, I'm going to start blogging about them.  How's this Miami Herald quote from a developer pitching the EB-5?:


"In the worse case scenario, this project will make a lot of money"


Well....no.  In the worst case scenario, the investor will lose his or her money, not get his/permanent residency, have to leave the U.S, and transplant their families back to their country after being led to believe that there was "no risk".


I first noted this whole thing when we were in Venezuela a few weeks ago.  Turns out a lot of other self-proclaimed EB-5 attorneys are going down there...and other Regional Centers, some approved, some not approved.  By day three in Caracas it was pretty clear to me that the rampant disinformation we were constantly correcting among our prospective clients was not the result of "I read it online so it must be so" Syndrome but, rather, the result of information gathered by folks at our seminar...from OTHER seminars presented by OTHER immigration attorneys and Regional Center marketers.  So let's just cut through the nonsense and clear up a few things:



    -The higher the promised return, the higher the risk.  That is a fundamental fact of investing. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.



    -Just because an EB-5 Regional Center investment predicts a teensy weensy annual return does not necessarily mean that the investment is "safer".  It could just mean the project managers are taking a big chunk of profits away from the investors.



    -Exit strategies matter.  Don't believe otherwise.



    -Yes, there are legitimate real estate opportunities in the belly-up U.S. real estate market, but just because prices are low does not necessarily mean it is a "great time to invest".  It depends on the specific property, plan, and investment managers.



    -Developers are not investment managers, investment managers are not investors and immigration attorneys are neither.



    -Banks make money when they lend on good projects.  While the banking sector has indeed reacted miserably to the credit crisis, that in and of itself does not create an "opportunity" for private capital.  If it was that easy, the banks would be lending.  With reward, put simply, comes risk.



    -You CANNOT "cash out" on your EB-5 investment in "two years or less" AND have your green card.  Legally impossible and the people saying this are lying through their teeth.



    -Think about it: $500,000 and 10 new jobs.  That's $50,000 per job, right?  Darn near impossible. The intelligently-structured Regional Centers are combining EB-5 funds with private U.S. equity and other non-EB-5 sourcing to insure that the per-investor job numbers materialize.



    -Not all Regional Centers are intelligently structured.



    -The initial petition I-526 looks at investor eligibility and origin of funds; the I-829 petition which makes the residency  of the EB-5 investor permanent focuses on confirming the job creation and fulfillment of business plans.  Just because a Regional Center is getting the first approved does not guarantee that the removal of conditions will sail through.  In fact, the catastrophic failures of EB-5 visas in the 90's mostly involved approved I-526s with I-829s subsequently denied.



    Look, folks: there are some excellent and intelligent EB-5 Regional Programs out there, as well as some excellent attorneys working with the EB-5 category.  But the abundance of pure nonsense being fed to prospective investors both in the U.S. and abroad is making hard for folks to learn the truth.  And so I blog.



    Like the guardian Knight of the Templar protecting the Holy Grail said to Indiana Jones:  "Choose wisely".




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