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January 30 2015

Managing Migration Agents

I had an interesting exchange with a licensed FINRA agent who often works in China to refer EB-5 investors to regional centers. He reports that Chinese migration agents often run ads claiming, “100% guaranteed return of capital.”

U.S. regional centers first need to have clear contacts with migration agents including 1) prohibiting making any misrepresentation, 2) that the agents will obtain the regional center’s written approval of all ads and marketing materials, and 3) the regional center should monitor all ads and other promotional materials, including the emails to the prospective investors. Spot checks should be in order as well as regular in-person meetings and telephone calls of which notes are kept. Conferences and calls should always reiterate the importance of honest marketing. Regional centers need to read all ads and marketing materials. If the ads and materials are in a foreign language, such as Chinese, they should also be translated to English and reviewed with the regional center’s securities counsel.

I am not a securities attorney and I give no securities law advice. I advise all regional centers to work closely with their securities attorney. For your information, the FINRA agent I spoke to says that the SEC will hold the regional center liable for its agent’s misrepresentations, and the SEC has subpoenaed regional centers for EB-5 agent’s marketing materials. He informed me that because the regional center would be responsible for the agent’s actions, an investor may have a right to rescission, if there are migration agent misrepresentations. Again, I am not giving securities law advice and I recommend all regional centers discuss this matter with their securities counsel.

A Retrogression Scenario

Recently we had a Chinese client invest in a regional center project which had I-526s pending for over a year. He filed his I-526 investor petition in September 2014. A few months later, the USCIS granted the project’s first investor’s I-526 and all others on file including our client who filed recently. Our investor’s I-526 was only on file for three months. Great news – but wait.

The China quota is expected to backlog in April, May or June of this year. The cutoff date for an available EB-5 visa number will probably be about July 2013. Only a person with a “current” available visa number for his/her priority date (date of filing the I-526) can proceed to the Consul for their interview and visa issuance.

Thus, our client will have to wait for his priority date of September 2014 to become “current” on the visa list. This could take one to two years, and maybe his 19½-year-old son will age out by that time and he may not be able to immigrate with his parents. We are thus trying to get this family’s immigrant visa interview expedited.

Martin Speaking:

I will be speaking at the following upcoming engagements:

University of San Francisco (Downtown Campus) H-1B Workshop on Wednesday, February 25th
University of San Francisco Chinese-American real estate conference on Friday, February 27th
San Francisco State University H-1B Workshop on Thursday, March 19th