Thursday, May 26, 2011

Positive Changes on U.S. Visas for Iranian Nationals

Two of my best friends are Iranian-Americans...well, like me, they really are just plain old "Americans".  The "Iranian" prefix for these guys -  like the "Cuban" prefix for me -- is really more of a heritage stamp than any sort of embedded ethnic identity.  They call me "dude", I call them "bro", and we are, basically, another subgroup of your basic Yankee Doodle Imports.

The demonization of the Iranian people has been the unfortunate consequence of U.S. policy against the various flavors of zany leadership which have governed this incredibly sophisticated, talented and productive nation since the Shah was ejected from power.

In Southern California, where LatourLaw will soon be opening our long-delayed West Coast office, there is a very large community of Iranian students, academics, and entrepreneurs who have been effectively held hostage by a U.S. visa policy which punished the good people of Iran for the sins of their self-appointed leaders.  Beginning July, my staff and I will be doing everything we can to utilize the newly-liberalized via rules for Iranians to help these folks establish normal travel options and the freedom they deserve.

Here is the SecStates brief video conveying the good news:



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How To Destroy an Economy

Where politics steps into the private sector and emasculates it, only one thing happens, invariably: the economic might of a nation embarks on an exodus via its best and brightest.

And this, my friends, is why I have so many good clients in Sunny Isles...

US slams Russia over Khodorkovsky treatment - Nation Wires -

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Folks, I feel like I should be handing out cigars and shaking hands: the first EB-5 Regional Center designed, conceived, tweaked, massaged, and 100% legally structured by Yours Truly was approved by the USCIS last week.  As most of you know, I've had a lot of input with various EB-5 projects these last few years...but this is my first one from conception to delivery.

It was not unlike, I suspect, birthing a brontosaurus.

When I got the receipt notice last summer telling me that in 120 days I'd hear from USCIS, I was innocent enough to believe it.  But then, when the new $6000 EB-5 RC filing fee was about to kick in, every unemployed immigration attorney on earth decided to file a Regional Center, or so it seemed.  The good folks at Laguna Niguel went from 60 to zero practically overnight, and the USG was as slow as ever to give USCIS the additional resources they urgently needed.  So 4 months became six months became an excruciating 9 months...but it was WORTH IT!

I will be shamelessly plugging Lake Point EcoVentures Regional Center in the coming weeks and months but I had to share the good news with my loyal readers.  Polygraph me and the results will show that I believe Lake Point to be the single smartest, most pragmatic, controlled-risk, best-conceived loan-based EB-5 project I've ever seen.  It's simple, it's crystal clear, and the General Partners are folks with impeccable reputations and an untarnished history of entrepreneurial success.  Check out my new baby!

Lake Point EcoVentures Regional Center

PLEASE NOTE: This is not an offering for a security.  It is simply a very happy lawyer bragging about his accomplishment.

Brian Su's Las Vegas EB-5 Boot Camp Seminar- MAY 25

Well, I'm sad to say that I will NOT be in Vegas tomorrow to see Brian put on another of his priceless seminars...I have a travel conflict.  For those of you who've attended his prior events, you know that there is simply no more valuable an educational and networking event in EB-5 Land.

As I told you,  the opportunity to speak at Brian's Houston event a few weeks ago was a great one for me and I'm still returning calls from the productive networking which unfolded.  I'm very bummed about not going to this particular one, though.  (And NO, not just because it's in VEGAS!....)

In this event, Brian grabs the Asian Tigers by the tail, targeting the need-to-know information for EB-5 Regional Centers and projects looking to do more in China and the Far East than just smile a lot and shake a lot of hands.  Tomorrow's event will feature a line up of some of the most seasoned experts from that part of the world, and Brian's ambitious agenda will cover everything an overview of Far East EB-5 markets to specific, pragmatic planning for setting up shop in China, dealing with escrow issues, and a lot of the nitty gritty you simply cannot learn elsewhere.

Good luck tomorrow, Brian, and I hope you can make an exception to the "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas" and brief me next week! (-:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ARTICLE LINK: TCKs...Third Culture Kids

Folks, my son Alex sent me an article I truly enjoyed and I wanted to share it with you.  It is definitely a pro-Obama piece, but that's not why I'm linking it.  I'm doing so because Alex, after reading it, commented that he was glad for the international experience he's had as a result of his life as the child of former wayfarers.

One thing is for sure: parochialism and narrow points of view are damn near impossible to maintain when you are a citizen of the world! (-:

Andrew Sullivan's TCK Commentary

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden's Death and U.S. Immigration Policy

On September 11th, 2001, I was in Miami when a realtor friend phoned to tell me that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  I thought, as many did, that this initial news must be a mistake.  But it wasn't.  It was the beginning of what would be, ultimately, the single most transformational event in the life of Americans since the Depression and the Second World War.  It was the beginning of a new, fear-based America...a new paradigm.

I reacted in a similar way to the first news about Bin Laden's death: disbelief.  I'm one of those who, for reasons most definitely not macabre, insists on seeing photos of the dead man.  And although as a Christian it is impossible for me to feel joy at the death of any human being, this person was less than human, and his death makes the world a safer place.

As we fumble through airport security with our belts in the tray and barefoot, wondering what we look like butt naked in that machine and whether the off-site DHS inspector is chuckling, dumping our bottled water and with our little shampoo in the Ziplock bag, it is easy to forget that it was not always this way.  And it is apparent that the experiences we as a nation have gone through as a result of this most evil of masterminds prevent us from going back to the pre-9/11 innocence we'd so taken for granted.

Last November, I did an EB-5 seminar in Dubai, and heard many stories about how 9/11 has made things very difficult for Arab businessmen with interests in the U.S.  My clients from Lebanon and Pakistan now treat a routine B-1/B-2 visa renewal with kid gloves, insisting that I handle the filing.  And the complexity of written and unwritten rules regarding the visa treatment given to persons from the Middle East has reduced itself to an untelligible and illogical muck, a place where I find myself high-fiving a client because the tourist visa he's had for over two decades was renewed.  It is a time where the fundamental expectations of how my Middle East clients are treated have been reduced so low that anything good that happens is considered a windfall.

Just as we understand that we can't simply wind down TSA now that Bin Laden is underwater, we all understand that the unravelling of these rules - written and unwritten -- will not happen overnight.  But I submit to our leaders in Washington that the first step to normalizing relations between the U.S. and the Middle East -- a place where our reckless and misdirected efforts toward hunting down Bin Laden caused us to invade the wrong nation -- should be directed toward the reestablishment of reasonable visa standards and rules for those seeking to do business in the U.S., free from profiling and old prejudices.

Remember: the 9/11 terrorists were Kuwaiti, Egyptian, Emirati, and Saudi - like Bin Laden himself.  And now they found him in Pakistan.  Google just how much the U.S. gives annually to these countries ($3.5 Billion to Pakistan alone) and ask yourself this: why is it, again, that we are waging two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...?

Monday, May 2, 2011

One more thing re "Substantial Presence"...

While am hardly qualified to give tax advice, I know I need to address this issue with clients BEFORE making a recommendation regarding permanent residency.  If you are a high-net-worth individual considering U.S. residency, do yourself (and me, if I subsequently resolve your immigration issue) a favor by contacting my go-to guy on pre-immigration tax planning, Steve Cantor at Cantor & Webb

"Substantial Presence Test" for Worldwide Tax Liablility as Defined by IRS

Folks, this is hardly a newsflash but given that I've explained the Substantial Presence test probably 10 times in the past 7 days, I wanted to provide you with the IRS site link which explains it in pretty clear language.  There seems to be a lot of confusion out there!

Right now there is a small army of EB-5-promoting immigration attorneys who:

  1. Have their eye firmly set on the prize of a nice fat finder's fee AND

  2. Are conveniently hiding behide the "I'm just the immigration guy" facade.

As a result of this, I am getting a steady stream of affluent foreigners who've been recklessly steered toward an EB-5 permanent residency...a residency which will make them liable under U.S. law not only for their foreign earned income but for estate taxes AND capital gains realized abroad!  Talk about malpractice...

The link is below.  Read it and write me if you have questions.  The bottom line is this, take it for what it's worth: 3 out of 4 people who come to me thinking they want U.S. permanent residency as would-be EB-5 investors think otherwise as soon as I explain what it will mean to them financially.  The preferred option in most of these situations is to structure a non-immigrant visa platform which will let the investor and family reside in the U.S. but still permit the investor to plan his/her time in the U.S. carefully to insure that they do NOT establish "substantial presence"...and lose a fortune via poor tax planning.

Here it is:

IRS Test to Determine Worldwide Tax Liability