Fraud on Investors in EB-5 Investments: Caveat Emptor! Part 9
The Importance of U.S. Based Attorneys
In the United States, attorneys may work on individual discrete issues for a client, but the best use of an attorney is as a counselor and advocate who understands and has a relationship with the client. Involving a U.S. based attorney early in the process can provide due diligence on projects that the investor is considering, a detailed review of the various different federal, state and local laws involved, assistance in understanding how the laws impact the investor personally and in relation to the investment, and comprehensive planning in relation to expanding business interests into the United States.
The Relationship of Client and Attorney
At Oppenhuizen Law Firm, PLC, we take relationships very seriously. We understand that the type of relationship that a client and an attorney share requires much more than video conferencing once or twice, and correspondence over emails and through intermediaries. We also understand that such a relationship requires a long-term commitment that extends well beyond completion of the I-526. And we are committed to providing comprehensive legal services and counsel to investors from the day that the investor chooses to seriously consider an EB-5 investment through the day that he or she sees the conditions removed from his or her Green Card and beyond.
First, relationship requires trust. We will meet with the investor in person upon retention, at a location of the investor’s choosing and at a time convenient to the investor. That means James R. Oppenhuizen, Esq. will fly anywhere in the world, after obtaining the appropriate visas if necessary, to meet with the investor in person. At the in person meeting, we will discuss background, requirements for EB-5 immigration purposes, documents and evidence needed, the investor’s background, business experience, desires, motivations, and potential investment opportunities that the investor has considered to date. If after the meeting, the investor is not interested in working with Oppenhuizen, all of the retainer will be returned, with the exception of the hard costs of the trip and (as needed) the translator.
If the investor chooses to move forward, an engagement agreement will be signed, and Oppenhuizen will begin the process of advancing the investor’s goals and representing the investor’s interests. This will involve reviewing an agreed upon number of potential projects, providing comprehensive due diligence reports on each reviewed project and a recommendation based on the legal analysis of the likelihood of immigration and business success, as well as the personal goals and desires of the investor. Oppenhuizen will work with the project developer and regional center to ensure that the investor’s interests and questions are addressed. Oppenhuizen guarantees that it will not be engaged or paid by anyone in relation to a transaction other than the investor. Oppenhuizen may represent multiple investors in the same project.
Commitment and Quality Communication Matters
Second, relationship requires commitment. Most EB-5 immigration attorneys agree to complete the application for conditional Green Card (I-526) for a specific fee, and then upon approval or a request for evidence or notice of intent to deny, a new retainer is required or representation is terminated. The I-829 petition to remove conditions is not covered in the fee agreement, and project monitoring is also not covered. The cost of an approved I-526 with no RFE is approximately $15,000.00, and the cost for an I-829 with no RFE is typically about $5,000.00. No relationship is developed and usually, communication is minimal and passed through intermediaries.
Oppenhuizen is dedicated to relationship building, so we commit to see the process through from beginning to end, right up front. Our fees are competitive and the investor gets much more in the form of personalized advice and direct communication. Fees are different depending upon the number of projects reviewed, and the complexity of specific cases, but start at $20,000.
Oppenhuizen’s Comprehensive Approach
Third, Oppenhuizen provides a comprehensive approach that includes an initial project review for each project in which the investor has interest. The project review includes carefully vetting the project, its documents, the promoters, regional center and developers in an attempt to find any indication that there could be fraud involved in the project. This cannot be guaranteed to capture all potential fraud, but any inconsistencies or discrepancies will be included in the comprehensive due diligence report that the investor receives prior to making his or her final decision on whether to invest. The due diligence report will also include a risk rating and a clear recommendation in light of the risk rating.
Oppenhuizen will complete the I-526 for the investor, and also provide monitoring of the project financials on behalf of the investor throughout the course of the investment, until the investor receives his or her return. Monitoring the investment and project financials, coupled with enforcing the investor’s rights to information along the way is designed to accomplish two goals. The first goal is to spot irregularities early, and address them with the managing member or general partner. The second is to maintain contact with the investor and be certain that the investor has accurate and up to date information to review concerning the performance of his or her investment. Oppenhuizen also commits to completing the I-829 as part of the fee and engagement, so that there is continuity in the relationship, and the investor to the extent possible, gets the benefit of his or her bargain.
During the course of the relationship, Oppenhuizen remains by each investor’s side to provide additional services that may be agreed upon as needed, for the investor and his or her businesses that are operating in the United States, or transitioning to cross border business.
Oppenhuizen is also ready to address any EB-5 Fraud that becomes apparent, for the benefit of its clients, and will aggressively and efficiently respond to any perceived fraud or misuse of funds by the project developers or anyone else involved in the transaction for the benefit of Oppenhuizen’s investor client.