Frequently Asked Questions
What considerations need to be taken into account when choosing a Chinese immigration agency to partner with?
There is a range of factors to consider when choosing an immigration agent in China. The obvious ones are the track record, reputation, and level of professionalism of the agency. Other critical ones include the size of your project, your fundraising deadlines, and business experience in China. These three factors have a huge impact on determining which immigration agency partnerships add the greatest value when marketing an EB-5 project in China.
China’s complex social and business protocols make it one of the world’s most difficult places to conduct business negotiations. Overlooking small details or being too direct and causing a counterpart to lose face can ruin weeks effort. Going to the table without experienced China negotiators is not recommended. Also, unlike in America, signing a contract is often the beginning of serious negotiation for the Chinese. Companies that make deals in China without a representative on the ground to stay on top of things run a serious risk of making painful concessions in the future.
How can I be sure that my project is being marketed in accordance with SEC and USCIS regulation, as well as all applicable Chinese laws?
China is a very different marketplace than the U.S. The corporate cultures of even the largest, most reputable immigration agencies can vary from city to city. The most professional immigration agencies can have difficulty controlling the marketing message outside of the first tier cities, when other agencies are subcontracted to market project slots. This is compounded by the fact that these agencies are usually marketing several large projects at a time. Policing the marketing of your project is just one of the many priorities upper management in these agencies have.
The one best answer to this issue is vigilance, and having someone on the ground in China who is actively involved in every aspect of project marketing. It is imperative that this representative be very familiar with Chinese cultural protocol. Otherwise there is substantial risk of damaging important relationships with these agencies.
How often should regional center representatives be prepared to come to China for project marketing activities?
The short answer is all of the time. Chinese investors want access to an American who represents the regional center directly. Time a regional center’s representatives spend on the ground in China doing seminars, small investor meetings, taking investors’ phone calls, and showing up at events all build credibility with the Chinese. This translates into faster selling projects, with fewer investors having second thoughts.
Regional centers with China savvy Americans on the ground at all times command a huge advantage over those than don’t.
Unlike in the United States, any advertising in China, or even the registration of website with a Chinese IP address must be done by legal entity; i.e. a business registered in China. Registering or dissolving a company in China is extremely cumbersome, and even for very large regional centers, not a cost effective solution.
Even with all the legal requirements met, advertising in China is dangerous territory for foreign companies. It is all too easy to spend tens of thousands of dollars advertising through channels that seem reasonable to American executives, but miss the target market in China. There are also countless case studies of American firms misjudging the culture and producing advertisement that is ridiculous or even offensive to the Chinese.
EB-5 project marketing in China must be multi-tiered. Obviously, if projects aren’t created and presented in a way that is appealing for investors, neither investors nor immigration agencies will be interested. However, it must be understood that immigration agencies have interests in addition to those of the investors, and successful project marketing must address this. This is further complicated by extreme cultural and developmental variation between different markets in China. What appeals to investors and agencies often varies between local markets. The divergence between what appeals to investors and what appeals to immigration agencies also varies in different local markets. Regional centers who market projects in China without experienced people on the ground can expect at best to spend hundreds of thousands more dollars on marketing than ones who do. They are also very much in danger of spending millions more, missing fundraising deadlines, and even failing to complete fundraising.
How much documentation is necessary to demonstrate to EB-5 investors that a project is sound, both from the standpoint of EB-5 job creation requirements and likely hood of return on investment?
No matter how much documentation is prepared, more will be needed. That being said, there is a body of essential documentation, outside of basic EB-5 investor documents, that must be prepared for every project. Additionally, knowing when and how to present this documentation so that it gets investors’ questions settled without creating pages of new questions is critical. Chinese investors have infinite concern for detail and minutia.
Yes – by leaps and bounds. We expect over 3,000 Chinese applicants in 2011, up from virtually zero just 4 years ago. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is that Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, countries that have long welcomed Chinese immigrants, have tightened up their standards considerably. In addition, many wealthy Chinese people see the U.S. as an excellent place to send their children to university (and even high school). A U.S. green card enables them to send their children to the U.S. to attend high school or college.
Is it possible for Regional Centers to market their EB-5 project from the US, without any outside assistance?
Yes, but it is fraught with difficulty. China can be a very confusing place to do business, and Regional Centers that have a partner on the ground in China will have a powerful sales advantage.
No- China is the only country we operate in. This is because China is not only the largest EB-5 market in the world, but also that it takes a great deal of time and focus to successfully run EB-5 marketing operations in China.
Chinese investors have two concerns. The first, and primary concern is that the investment they make will allow them to obtain a U.S. green card. Their second concern is that their investment be as safe as possible. The last thing they want is for their $500,000 investment to disappear, because the investment collapses for reasons beyond their control.
That is actually a very involved question, and we would be happy to discuss this with you either by email, or on the phone. It is very important, however, that you know what the Chinese investor wants as you are putting together your pro forma and business plan. Call us – we can help!
We’ve seen fantastic investment opportunities that simply weren’t suitable for EB-5 in China. We’ve also seen projects that should have been home runs struggle in China, because a few elements were not in place. The sure fire way to go far over budget on marketing and miss fundraising deadlines in China is to bring an EB-5 project to market without consulting professionals who know China.