Handling EB-5 Cases from South Korea

by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
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EB-5 cases for South Korean nationals may present very unique issues.  Here are some important pointers to consider when handling such cases:

Foreign Currency Wire Issue: There is a specific foreign currency provision under South Korean law allowing EB-5 investors to wire funds for investment based on documentary evidence that the person will be able to immigrate under the EB-5 investor category.  This means the I-526 approval notice is required before such permit to wire can be obtained, which in turn means the EB-5 funds generally cannot be wired before I-526 immigrant petition approval. Often, funds from South Korean EB-5 investors will not be available until I-526 approval unless the EB-5 investment capital is already in the United States.  Ironically, this puts South Korean investors at a disadvantage relative to Chinese EB-5 investors who generally do not have a problem wiring money into a U.S.-based escrow account prior to I-526 petition approval. Recently, the wire permit issuance authority was transferred from the Bank of Korea to individual tax offices having jurisdiction over the EB-5 investor's residence.

Documentation Issues: Most of the documents required by USCIS for an EB-5 case can be easily obtained.  There are no legal or business structures that pose obstacles to obtaining documents that are normally required for EB-5 cases.  Many of the governmental documents are available in English; thus it may be advisable to inform South Korean EB-5 clients to obtain documents in English in order to avoid delays and translation costs.

American Embassy in Korea: The Immigrant Visa (IV) section is well-versed when it comes to reviewing IV applications based on I-526 approvals.  Currently, attorneys are not allowed to even enter the Embassy building to accompany clients to the interview.  Therefore, attorneys should prepare their clients well.  Generally, it takes four to six months from the date the I-526 approval case file has been transferred to the NVC until the IV interview date. Passports with stamped IVs are usually delivered within one week of the interview.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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