Last month, the American Immigrant Investor Alliance (‘AIIA’) had the exciting opportunity to travel to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to meet with Vietnamese investors and agent-partners. This visit was meant to further our global outreach efforts with the EB-5 community and to gain unique perspectives on issues being faced by investors all over the world. One of AIIA’s primary goals is to bring education and awareness to all immigrant investors by sharing knowledge and resources which have so far only been accessible to US-based and other English-language investors. As AIIA’s first overseas trip, we were happy to have chosen Vietnam, given the size and importance of this market as well as the issues that it faces.
Our local partners over at Citizenship Pathway and Loyalpass arranged a series of educational seminars with investors and assisted with translations and logistics. We welcome both agents as our latest industry members and congratulate them for advocating for the interests of their clients.
During the seminars, we discussed AIIA’s ongoing dialogue with the U.S. government agencies and our goals, including addressing slow processing times with petitions and applications. We also conducted educational presentations with investors explaining how the three branches of the American government work, as well as legal options for prospective immigrants, including expedites and litigation. We discussed AIIA’s history of advocacy and the long road ahead for implementing legislative reform to benefit the immigration process. We reviewed AIIA’s strategic action plan for 2023 which includes building a strong foundation for future lobbying on behalf of EB-5 investors to speed up USCIS processing times and reduce consular delays.
Based on feedback from our conversations, we learned that language barriers were a particular impediment to Vietnamese investors fully understanding the terms of their EB-5 investment including the rights and options which may or may not be available to them. Some investors stated that they could not get in touch with their issuers or immigration attorneys, leaving them in the dark about their investment and immigration status and indeed their future.
We also learned that Vietnam is equally prone to many of the common issues faced by investors all over the world, such as prolonged wait times for I-526 processing and slow scheduling of interview dates. We also learned that this investor community received exceptionally high numbers of Request For Evidences (RFEs), Notice of Intent to Denys (NOIDs), and petition denials due to utilizing currency swap services which are frequently employed to move funds from Vietnam to the U.S..
In order to understand the exact reasons behind these and to aid our Vietnamese members, AIIA has recently filed an extensive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking information on USCIS’s methodology that it uses to evaluate source of funds involving currency swap transactions. We have requested all records which were prepared, created, received, transmitted, and/or maintained by USCIS that relate to:
- The conversion of VND to USD.
- The process of adjudicating Forms I-526 and Forms I-829 where an EB-5 investor utilized the following services/persons for a currency swap or informal value transfers (IVTs):
- Eastern & Allied Pty. Ltd. (also known as Hai Ha Money Transfer)
- Dong Tai Trading Service Co. Ltd.,
- Compass Global Holdings Pty. Ltd (also known as Compass Global Markets)
- CamLy Duong,
- VNT Trading and Investment Pty. Ltd.,
- Statistics and data regarding how many I-526 petitioners that utilized those services mentioned above received RFE/NOIDs, approvals, or denials.
Understanding USCIS’s practices for adjudicating petitions using currency exchanges will allow the Vietnamese EB-5 community to avoid problematic pitfalls and to potentially remediate common and specific issues. We feel it is just to have adjudication standards more transparently available for investors and immigration attorneys to review which can lead to better outcomes and more successful petitions. When an overseas investor sends direct investments into the U.S. using methods which have no official governmental direction on, this leads to money being tied up in the investments with potentially no recourse for the investor and in the worst cases, an altogether failure of the investment leading to large capital losses to the investors. Once we receive the response to our FOIA request, we intend to review these documents with our advisors and share the information with anyone who may benefit from it including our members.
While in Vietnam, a country which has been disproportionately affected by policies of the U.S. immigration system, we worked on spreading our main message of community between all EB-5 investors, regardless of nationality, application stage, or financial situation. Our common starting point is conducting advocacy for a more equitable and transparent immigration system which works for all investors and brings much needed foreign capital into the U.S. to create American jobs. The only way we can make large strides in doing so is by uniting all investors against injustices and inefficiencies of the legal immigration system.
While our trip was productive, there is still work that needs to be done. Given that a new Congress has been sworn in, we have a brand new opportunity to approach its members as a strong, united voice and urge them to reform the EB-5 program for the better, for when the program works for investors first, all stakeholders benefit from their successful outcomes. Currently, with our various advocacy activities, we are seeking to tilt the balance back into the favor of immigrant investors who want to contribute to the economy of the U.S. before they are even given a chance to move here. We will continue to do this work by gathering investor input for public comment on USCIS policy guides and conducting further education campaigns through our blog and newsletter in the future.
We encourage you to check out the rest of our new website, featuring resources for current and new investors, as well as our newly launched membership program and encourage all EB-5 stakeholders to get involved with AIIA via our sign up form.
Furthermore, any donations you give to AIIA will directly assist our advocacy efforts, urge the government to make the EB-5 program and related petitions and applications a priority, and provide a fair pathway to permanent residency for all immigrant investors. Your contribution helps support our mission and directly impacts the outcomes we are able to achieve on investors’ petitions.
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Check out this interview we did in Vietnam with Youtube channel Nhà Cửa Mỹ and Custom Invest.
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