Living My Indian American Dream
After navigating through complex visa rules, I found something called the EB-5 visa
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I worked on Wall Street, cracked multi-million dollar deals, managed family offices and travelled 30 plus countries - all before I turned 35. A right decision my father once took, made it all possible - the decision to immigrate to America.
I was born in a small village in Punjab. I was only five when I landed in this country. I still remember the day, everything seemed huge – be it food portions, cars, buildings, bridges, dreams, ambitions, talent, events, stadiums … My initial shyness soon gave way to a sense of excitement, wonder and exploration. My father drove a taxi and our resources were obviously meagre. Despite all the hardships and poverty, I felt at home. The energy and ambition in the air was infectious.
I landed amazing opportunities in New York and made the most of them. After working on Wall Street and family offices for years, I opened my own investment advisory firm. I was living my dream. In the summer of 2016, an incident shook me to the core. My dear friend, Rajat (name changed) was leaving the US, for the startup he worked for was shutting down. He hadn’t been given a Green Card even after staying in the US for six years.
I found that the situation was grim for millions like him. Rajat was working on an H-1B visa, a non-immigrant visa that allows US employers to employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations in the US for a specified period. He had applied for a Green Card but it was still in queue. According to the website of the US Department of State, the backlog of Indians on Green Card queues is 1.5 million. The waiting time for Indians varies from ten years to a few decades.
I did more research and found that H-1B, F1 and H4 visa holders face an uncertain future in the US. If you’re on H-1B, you are dependent on your employer to file your visa (who pays upwards of $1,000) and renews it every three years. There’s little security in an H-1B. Quitting the company that sponsored you or getting fired can get you ousted from the States. Similarly, after your graduation you only get three months to find a job. If you’re on the H4 visa, you are not allowed to work, which limits your options and is very frustrating.
After navigating through complex visa rules, I found something called the EB-5 visa. The programme allows investors, their spouses and children under 21, to apply for a Green Card, which allows permanent residence if they make an investment of $500,000 and plan to create or secure ten permanent full-time jobs for US workers. Each year, the US government allocates 10,000 visas for foreigners who invest through the EB-5 programme. Unlike the H-1B visa, the EB-5 visa is not dependent on employment or educational qualification, and the applicant is allowed to work anywhere in the country. The processing time for an EB-5 application is 18-24 months, followed by six to nine months for processing of Green Cards.
I helped Rajat apply for the EB-5 visa after he returned to India. His father gifted it to him (yes, one can gift it too!). I was surprised that such a valuable piece of information wasn’t known to most Indians. Soon after, I started my own company with operations in India and New York to help people live a life of their dreams via the EB-5 route.
I sometimes wonder what I would do had my father not taken the decision to migrate to the US. I am grateful for the opportunities that my Indian heritage and American land provided me. You can’t let policy issues wither away your dreams and ambitions. After all, we only live once.
P.S - Rajat got his citizenship last year and I couldn’t be more happy.
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