Working with Chinese EB-5 Visa Investors:
Since I began my work in the EB-5 Visa industry, I have mainly worked with Eastern European and Latin American investors. Recently, I had the opportunity to assist and investor from mainland China. This proved to be a real learning experience.
Thankfully the Regional Center that we worked with has a full staff of professionals who speak fluent Mandarin, so the language barrier was not an issue. That was a bright spot in this case. The source of funds for the investment came from the sale or real estate in Hong Kong. The sale took place rather recently, so we did not encounter any issues in regard to purchase and sale contracts and or funds switching hands.
The fun started when we had to show the origin of the source of funds which were used to purchase the recently sold property. Not surprisingly, the property was purchased as a result of the sale of a previous property. The transition took place in 2009. Further, the Regional Center requested that we show how property # 2 was acquired. Drum roll: It was yet the sale of another property in 2004.
One thing about real estate transactions in mainland China from the early to mid-2000s is that there are very few documents to support them. Cash was and mainly is still king in that part of the world.
Also, if a bank was used to facilitate the transaction, there is a large chance that the bank is no longer operating and all documentation is gone and no longer available to evidence the transaction.
Luckily for this case, the investor did keep good records and was able to present the sale and purchase contracts or all three transactions. These documents were not easy to come by, but in the end were presented to USCIS for review. In China the sales contract is also the evidence of tax payment on a property, which in this case satisfied another requirement for USCIS.
Next came the transfer of funds. By law in China, only $50k USD may be transferred out of the country in a single year. Thus, an EB-5 investor must split up the $500k USD between friends and family who then make the transfers individually to the investors Regional Center of choice. I was amazed by the level or resistance from the Chinese banking authorities when it came to this part of the process. It took several weeks and multiple attempts from various friends and family members of the investor to complete the numerous wire transfers.
In the end, the biggest thing I learned about working with Chinese investors is to be ready to expect the unexpected and be prepared to quickly find solutions. I look forward to the next challenge!