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Immigrant Investor Profile: A & B Property Services

Posted: December 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , | No Comments »

topOne of our immigrant investor clients, John Smyth, recently announced his new company website and initiative to expand a property services business.

Mr. Smyth earned a degree in agricultural engineering and participated in a MBA management program. Then, Mr. Smyth co-owned two engineering distribution and services businesses for 14 years in key sectors for food, whisky and power generation. The businesses grew from start-up to earning multi-million dollars in revenue. He plans to use that experience to build growth into his investment in the United States.

He chose to invest in Florida because of the tremendous opportunities present in the area that will allow the business to grow in the property sector.

The company’s mission is to be the most trusted provider of exterior cleaning, maintenance, repair and renovation in Florida.

midThe business provides a range of service, including:

  • Exterior pressure washing
  • Roof Wash
  • Window Cleaning
  • Pool Screen & Lanai Cleaning
  • Handyman Services
  • Commercial Cleaning
  • Exterior Painting
  • Driveway Cleaning & Sealing
  • Concierge Service for Absentee Owners

bottomRecently, the company launched its Forever Clean Program. This program provides an annual service for a low fixed monthly fee in exchange for a comprehensive cleaning and maintenance program that is specifically designed for each property owner.

A & B Property Services was built on exceeding customer expectations, adding value, and building long-term and trusting business partnerships. Their goal is to develop a one-stop shop approach, where clients will be provided with a dependable turn-key home maintenance solution.

The business provides Property Maintenance to residential and commercial properties in Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota, Bradenton, North Port and Venice.

For a free estimate on their Forever Clean Program or for other inquiries, please contact John Smyth at or 941.488.9200

Guest Post: Why EB-5 Regional Centers Should Undertake 3rd-Party Due Diligence

Posted: January 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Guest Post by Kurt Reuss and Rupy Cheema, Managing Partners, EB5 Diligence LLC 

2014.0113.EB-5 Due Diligence 1 2014.0114.EB-5 Due Diligence 2

The goal of any project developer is to find investors to fund new projects. Generally private placement offerings attract “sophisticated,” well-funded investors such as institutional investors, mutual funds, hedge fund operators, insurance companies or high net-worth individuals, all of which have the capacity to conduct their own due diligence to assess the viability of the project.  Additionally, the broker-dealers who underwrite and sell these securities are required by FINRA, the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Agency, to perform due diligence on behalf of the issuer, for the benefit of investors. Typically, the due diligence costs are borne by the issuer and structured as a percentage of the total offering.

The goal of  the average investor is to see a reliable future earnings stream while ensuring that no undue risks are taken. For some foreign investors, however, especially those whose interest is in the EB-5 project, there is one goal which is paramount above all others, and that is obtaining  green card status for themselves and their eligible family members, a goal achievable under the auspices of the U.S. Citizenship and and Immigration Service (USCIS) which allows foreign investors to invest in an EB-5 project provided that certain criterion is fulfilled.

It is for that reason that foreign investors in EB-5 projects will want to ensure that a due diligence review is carried out, because if the project fails to meet the criterion set out by the USCIS, then their ultimate goal, green card status, will not have been met. The criterion that must be met by the EB-5 project develops cannot be readily assessed by an investor, which could result in a denial of either of their petitions, meaning that they and their family could be forced to return to their home land, often causing incredible hardship for the family, not just financially, but emotionally and psychologically. For those reasons, a foreign investor must be confident that the EB-5 project he or she plans to invest in will satisfy the USCIS requirements and ultimately end up with their successful petition for green card status.

Unlike private placement security offerings, the EB-5 industry is unique in that it doesn’t require the involvement of a broker-dealer because of the exemption that allows unregistered, off-shore agents to sell these securities to foreign investors. Though they generally qualify as accredited investors, EB-5 investors are not the aforementioned “sophisticated” types, and in many cases may not even have English as a first language. This presents a strange confluence of factors: less sophisticated investors with limited English language skills wishing to invest without the involvement of a registered FINRA representative.

In the EB-5 world, regional centers often act in an advisory role that would typically be assumed by broker-dealers, namely performing the due diligence and making representations to EB-5 investors. However, unlike broker-dealers these individuals at the regional centers are not regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. When regional centers are also developers of the projects they sell, the need for third-party due diligence becomes even more essential for EB-5 investors.

Benefits of 3rd-party Due Diligence

Considering the somewhat modest investment of $500,000 or $1 million (of course, relative to the “sophisticated” investor types), it’s generally not feasible for EB-5 investors to pay for a comprehensive analysis of a single project, let alone the analysis of multiple projects. Moreover, from the regional center’s standpoint, it can be not just tedious but impractical when you factor in the need to supervise a multitude of visiting analysts, set up meetings with management, request documents necessary to provide a comprehensive analysis for each and every investor, etc.

By retaining a third-party to perform the due diligence review, regional centers make it easier for immigration attorneys and “foreign finders” to present their clients with an easy-to-understand yet comprehensive outline of a project’s strengths and weaknesses, inherent investment risk and its I-526 approval risk. For the less sophisticated EB-5 investor, that outline is often far more straightforward and understandable than any private placement memorandum could ever be. By having a comprehensive third-party report to distribute to investors and foreign finders, regional centers can also bolster their own marketing and solicitation efforts. The added transparency often expedites the investors’ decision making process and saves the regional center valuable time and resources that would otherwise be devoted to disseminating information to potential investors.

Since by definition every EB-5 project has inherent risk, a thorough due diligence review helps investors decide which project’s risks are acceptable to them and which are not.  On the flip side, the due diligence report can alert a regional center to any deficiencies, real or potential, in their project which would enable them to address those deficiencies prior to issuance of the report.

How Thorough does Due Diligence Need to Be?

By definition, due diligence is the care that any reasonable person would exercise in order to prevent or avoid harm to assets, property or other persons. Furthermore, it could be argued that an inadequate or poorly prepared due diligence might be more harmful than none at all, as the report itself could engender misplaced confidence in a project that may be deficient or even fraudulent.

A due diligence analysis is conducted to understand a project in as much detail as reasonably possible and moreover to take a hard look at the enterprise’s finances, strategic and operational situation and EB-5 viability, along with any problems, risks or headwinds that the project may face. A thorough due diligence review starts with a good checklist; here are ten areas that should be addressed in any comprehensive due diligence review:

  1. Review of the Project’s Business Plan
  2. Review of the Corporate Structure and Capital Structure
  3. Assessment of the Company Management’s Background
  4. Market Analysis and Sales Strategy
  5. Review of the Facility, Equipment and Management Systems
  6. Review of the Project’s Financial Reports
  7. Review of Major Agreements and Contracts
  8. Assessment of Government and Local Support
  9. Regional Center and EB-5 Analysis
  10. Review of the Project’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats 

Moreover, because many EB-5 projects involve construction, consultants may also be needed to evaluate construction budgets, timelines, real estate title, permits and other important approvals. Finally, because EB-5 investors may not have English as their mother tongue, it makes sense to have due diligence reports translated into various languages.

The Cost of Due Diligence

The cost of a comprehensive project review can range anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000, and is dependent upon the size and complexity of the project. Most mid-sized project reviews typically cost around $20,000.

Conflict of Interest Concerns

Potential investors may worry about the possibility of a conflict of interest if a due diligence analysis is conducted and paid for by a regional center or project developer, or if it is performed by a registered broker-dealer who is retained by the issuer. Investors might suspect that the report could be unduly influenced by the agency relationship. Fortunately, those concerns are invalidated thanks to FINRA, which specifically prohibits broker-dealer representatives from engaging in manipulative, deceptive or fraudulent behavior or making untrue statements of any material fact.  FINRA representatives have an obligation to provide independent, objective analysis and to report any fraud they encounter, and any information gleaned which would give a prudent person sufficient pause or which would send up a “red flag” must be further investigated. A registered FINRA representative’s failure to satisfy its investigative duties could, consequently, be considered a violation of the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws and the rules of FINRA.

Simply put, FINRA registered broker-dealer representatives are tasked with performing due diligence on behalf of issuers for the benefit of investors. This “special” relationship is critical to the proper functioning of the securities industry.

Guest Post: Do Investor Visa Petitions Require Business Plans?

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Immigration Reform, Investor Visas | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

The source of this information is E-Council, Inc:

e-Council’s team of licensed professionals designs business plans for business owners and entrepreneurs seeking U.S. visas, establishing U.S. operations, seeking investors and/or expanding their businessesall at the right price. Our team is comprised of attorneys, MBA’s, CPA’s, PhD’s and other professionals that know what USCIS wants and we know how to deliver!  We have a stellar success rate and pride ourselves on consistently high-quality work.  

Lauren Cohen, Founder and President of eCouncil, is an attorney licensed in both the U.S. and Canada and an active AILA member and speaker.  Having immigrated from Canada, Lauren has first-hand knowledge of the visa process.  She developed e-Council to focus on designing professional Business Plans for all types of business visas, ranging from E-1 and E-2 to H-1B and L-1A, with a special focus on EB-5 projects for direct investments and regional centers. e-Council not only creates the right business plans to complement visa applications, but also works closely with business owners to develop their business models and strategies in the process.

E-2 and EB-5 Investor Visas Resources

Whether required or not, Investor Visa Petitions are all incomplete and risk a Request for Evidence (RFE) or, even worse, a denial without a Business Plan.  A Business Plan provides supporting evidence necessary for USCIS or the Consular Officer to determine if the business is viable, has a likely chance of success, will contribute to the U.S. economy in a meaningful way, and if the beneficiary(ies), employer(s) and/or the business itself satisfy the specific requirements of the applicable Visa.  Therefore, even though not specifically mandated, business Visa petitions benefit tremendously from a professional Business Plan that demonstrates and details the business model, structure, and goals.  As noted, without a Business Plan, the Visa risks processing delays due to Requests for Evidence that are likely to be issued, or denials which are extremely challenging and costly to overcome.

EB-5 Visas

An EB-5 petition is the only Visa petition to expressly require a Business Plan.  USCIS, through the body of laws regulating business immigration to the U.S., further requires proof of job creation for an EB-5 Visa petition, which is to be evidenced in the mandated Business Plan.  As stated:

The job creation analysis for each economic activity must be supported by a copy of a Business Plan for an actual or exemplar capital investment project for that category.  Note: A Business Plan provided in support of a regional center application should contain sufficient detail to provide valid and reasoned inputs into the economic forecasting tools and must demonstrate that the proposed project is feasible under the current market and economic conditions.  The form of the EB-5 investment from the commercial enterprise into the job-creating project (equity, loan, or some other financial arrangement) should be identified.

The Business Plan should also identify any and all fees profits, surcharges, or other like remittances that will be paid to the regional center or any of its principals or agents through EB-5 capital investment activities.  (Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, OMB No. 1615-0061, Instructions for Form I-924, Application for Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, at p. 2.)

In the Regional Center context, a Business Plan is used to support, “in verifiable detail,” that the EB-5 investment for the new business enterprise will not be in conflict with the Regional Center’s Business Plan.  Notably, “When we approve a regional center, we acknowledge that the econometric models and Business Plans appear to be feasible and that jobs should be directly or indirectly created through investment in the approved industry categories.”  (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services Webpage, EB-5 Regional Centers, located at

In 1998, the Associate Commissioner made a determination in the case of In re Ho.  This decision was and continues to be significant, explicitly detailing that EB-5’s require “a comprehensive Business Plan” (emphasis in original) that should contain the following elements:

1. a description of the business,
2. the business structure,
3. a marketing plan with target market analysis,
4. personnel experience,
5. a competitive analysis,
6. required licenses and permits,
7. staffing timetable for hiring, job descriptions, and
8. a budget and financial projections.

Significantly, it was noted that: “Most importantly, the Business Plan must be credible.”  (In re Ho, at p 213 – commonly referred to as MATTER OF HO).  Thus, the credibility of the Business Plan has become the pivotal factor, and EB-5 professionals are generally cognizant of this fact and will not prepare or submit Business Plans that they do not deem to be credible on their face.

This Matter of Ho decision set the standard for all future EB-5 Business Plans, and remains for the most part intact, with minor modifications and variations in interpretation depending on the specifics of the case and the type of EB-5 (ie: direct investment vs. regional center project).  Drafting an all-encompassing Business Plan is a complicated, time-consuming process that requires extensive research, industry marketing information, cognizance of the business structure and model, and an understanding of the key factors and evidence sought by USCIS.  While the business owner is often the best person to provide information about the business, (s)he is often constrained by time, lack of writing talent, and an absence of understanding of the Visa petition process and the requisite components of an EB=5 Business Plan.  Thus, the most prudent step that those pursing the EB-5 route can take is to retain a professional team to write the Business Plan incorporating the information supplied them in compliance with the requirements.

E-1, E-2 and L-1 Visas

E-2 and EB-5 Investor Visas

A Business Plan is equally critical to all non-immigrant business Visa petitions.  Increasingly, the reviewing agencies submit Requests for Evidence asking for a comprehensive Business Plan as support for the feasibility of the business and its contribution to the U.S. economy.  More often than not, Business Plans prepared by the petitioner are similarly kicked back as falling short.

In an E-Visa context, demonstrating that the investment (E-2) or trade (E-1) will be substantial or sufficient to satisfy the applicable treaty standards while showing that a successful business is planned is essential for approval.  What better way to show that the trade between the treaty countries (the U.S. and the home country of the beneficiary) is sufficient to meet the E-1 Visa requirements, or that the investment amount is “not marginal” so as to satisfy the E-2 Visa’s “substantial investment” threshold, than through a professionally-written Business Plan.

Similarly, establishing the intercompany transferee’s executive/managerial role in both the foreign country and proposed role in the U.S. is essential to satisfy the L-1A Visa requirements, among a growing list of other L-1A criteria that is changing on an almost-daily basis.  Proving that an intercompany transferee for an L-1B Visa has specialized knowledge and clearly delineating that knowledge is crucial for a successful petition in this area.  In both cases, a detailed analysis of the proposed beneficiary’s background and intended role with the petitioning company will offer evidentiary support that the beneficiary has specialized knowledge or is suited for an executive or supervisory position in applicable situations.

A professional Business Plan will not only include the nature of the business and the business model, the business’s mission, goals and objectives and a general marketing plan, but also details the structure of the business, its personnel, and the financial projections for the business. It will also outline how the business will positively impact the U.S. economy from various perspectives, and often will include a variety of charts, graphs and visuals so as to increase the appeal to the reviewing officials.  Outlining the nuts and bolts of the specific business in question along with the start-up and reasonable, fact-based projections with explanatory assumptions will clarify to the USCIS the viability of the business and, if an E-2 Visa, the reasonableness and risk factor of the “substantial investment”.  The detail with which a Business Plan should be composed creates evidentiary proof of the necessary factors needed for application approval.

National Interest Waivers (NIW’s)

A National Interest Waiver (NIW) petition is a part of the EB-2 category of second preference, employment-based immigration which leads directly to a Green Card.  Normally, a permanent job offer and an approved labor certification are pre-requisites to filing an employment-based, second preference immigration petition.  However, the NIW petition requests that the labor certification requirement be waived for the sake of the “national interest of the United States”.  In an NIW case, the burden of proof is on the applicant to establish that exemption from the labor certification will be in the national interest of the U.S.

Because of the nature of NIW petitions, it is vitally important that the petitioner show detailed and tangible evidence of past valuable contributions by the petitioner.  This evidence can be documented by showing the petitioner’s successful role in past business or academic projects.  In such cases, a business plan outlining the petitioner’s past accomplishments as well as present and future goals that is organized in a manner to highlight the petitioner’s significant and unique contributions can be a persuasive tool to present to the USCIS examiner.  For example, a business plan can document, in a form that USCIS examiners are used to reading, that the petitioner has already turned around a business, improved the economy, and created jobs in a way that would be vital to national interests.  The more evidence that the petitioner can present in the NIW context, the better chance of a favorable ruling.  Retro-oriented business plans can be a valuable part of that evidence.

Proposed changes to immigration laws contained in the Senate bill passed this summer would create two new types of visas: the temporary X visa, for entrepreneurs who don’t plan on staying in the U.S. permanently, and the EB-6 visa, which can lead to residency.  In each case, visas are available to entrepreneurs who hit thresholds for investment capital raised, jobs created, and revenue earned.  The EB-6 visa petition would specifically require the submittal of a business plan, which we can assume will follow EB-5 business plan requirements relating to detail and mandated elements.  The proposed X visa has investment threshold and job creation requirements that are also well-suited to documentation through a business plan.

A Business Plan is generally a roadmap for the business, designed to pave the way to its short- and long-term success.  However, as is the case in a Visa petition, the Business Plan can also be used to tell the story, provide an explanation, and give evidence and even a record of past accomplishments to further support the application.  A Visa petition lacking a sound, well-composed, and analytical Business Plan will likely face challenges at every turn, and will almost certainly be delayed by the USCIS seeking further evidence.

To find out more about professional, well-researched, articulate, expository narrative Business Plans, crafted specifically to address USCIS’s concerns, contact e-Council for further information at

Sarasota Immigrant Learns to Live and Work Successfully in America

Posted: August 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Susie Correia has been successfully living and working in America for over 7 years. Originally from the small Caribbean island of Trinidad, she first moved to the UK with her British husband in order to live and work there. She and her husband managed a B&B and several investment properties in Poole, on the southern coast of England. They had a son together and lived in Poole for 10 years.

When her son was 4 years old he decided that he wanted to be a tennis player. Ms. Correia did her research and found Nick Bolliterri Tennis Academy, now known as IMG Academy, in Bradenton. She moved to the Sarasota-Bradenton area and enrolled her son in the premier tennis academy. She also had to find a way to make a good living for herself and qualify for a visa in order to live and work in the States.

Not everything went perfectly for Ms. Correia. She and her husband filed for divorce. She decided not to waste any time and went back to school in order to make herself as marketable as possible. When we spoke with her she declared her inspiring motto: “You can go back [to school] at any age. You can do whatever you want as long as you put your mind to it.” She completed her education with a 4.0 GPA and as a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and earned the Leadership Distinction Award. She obtained a degree as a medical assistant then became a licensed Aesthetician, Licensed Insurance Agent & long-term care agent.

Susie Correia Lives and Works Successfully in AmericaSusie Correia Lives and Works Successfully in America

Susie Correia Lives and Works Successfully in Sarasota

Ms. Correia had always worked for herself and wanted to continue to do so in both nutrition and skin care. She is an International Distributor for Nu Skin / Pharmanex and also became a registered and authorized operator of the Pharmanex Biophotonic Scanner®. This machine, featured on the Dr. Oz show, provides, in about 90 seconds and without a blood draw, a quantitative level of skin carotenoids, which correlates with systemic anti-oxidant levels. In other words, Ms. Correia can accurately measure vital nutritional biomarkers non-invasively in only minutes.

Armed with this important information, Ms. Correia can make recommendations that can positively impact her clients’ health.

Ms. Correia is now a permanent resident and lives and works in America. Her son, just as industrious as she, graduated from high school one year early, having skipped a grade, and with straight A’s. He still plays tennis and is pursuing a career on the ATP tour. Ms. Correia is currently working towards her own financial freedom by helping people be more healthy. As an anti-aging specialist she can help people stop the signs and symptoms of aging both internally and externally with visible results sometimes seen in minutes. You can contact her for a free demo.

Susie Correia Lives and Works Successfully in Sarasota

Susie Correia with her son

Susie Correia can be contacted through her email:, or her cell phone: 941-893-0996.  To learn more about the biophotonic scanner and the tools Ms. Correia has at her disposal to improve her clients’ health and skincare, visit click on United States, or transformations.  Or for the skincare click on United States and for the business opportunity visit and request the info on the password protected portion for further information.

In a final note, Susie is also involved in a charity that donates a bag of vitameal every month for $25/month.  With one bag you can feed 30 people.  To learn more visit Susie’s website:

Sarasota’s Nationally Recognized Schools Attract Ambitious Immigrant

Posted: July 15th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Nikolai Safonov

Nikolai Safonov

Nikolay Safonov began his career as a computer programmer and system architect for a major State Hospital in Moscow (GKB Botkina).  At the age of 26 he was a team leader for a group of developers of accounting software.

At the dawn of 90s his career took a turn towards commercial applications.  His work at an international frozen food trader (Salmit) led him to gain a great deal of experience in international trade, cross-boundary project management, and in other areas that are vital in this age of globalization.

In 1999 Salmit was planning to expand its operation into the Western Hemisphere.  A subsidiary company (Salmit USA, LLC) was established, and Mr. Safonov took the position of General Manager in it.  In order to live and work in the US Mr. Safonov applied for and obtained an L-1 Intra-Company Transfer Visa.  That was his first exposure to the L-1 visa.  Over the next few years Mr. Safonov obtained permanent residency and, eventually, US citizenship.

Mr. Safonov urged our readers to seek the counsel of a professional when making decisions regarding visas and moving to the United States.  Despite his own considerable qualifications and the fact that he did work with an attorney in the States he had a difficult time sponsoring his daughter, who was held up in Moscow for a few years.  Navigating the government bureaucracy of immigration should not be done alone, he advises.

From the very first days of doing business in the US Nikolay understood the importance of “local expertise”.  Namely, comprehensive understanding of the US market, legislation, financial system, and means of communication.  Learning English is critical to living in the US.  It is also a very marketable skill.

Mr. Safonov invested considerable amounts of time in his own education in order to obtain a competitive edge in the US market.  He studied English to a level that allowed him to enroll into an Ivy League MBA program (Columbia University GSB).  Since graduating from the MBA program in 2006 Nikolay continued his education, obtaining numerous professional certifications (Series 7, Insurance and Annuities, Real Estate and Business Brokerage to name a few).

Mr. Safonov moved to Sarasota a few years ago so his daughter could attend the prestigious Pine View School.  Mr. Safonov had read about the school’s reputation and, understanding the importance of education to one’s advancement in this country, strongly desired for her to go to one of the best schools in the country.  We are very pleased that Mr. Safonov chose Sarasota.

Currently, Mr. Safonov provides consulting and business brokerage services to the citizens of former USSR countries, helping them establish their presence in the USA and, potentially, immigrate to America.

To contact Mr. Safonov:

  • e-mail:
  • Skype: Nikolay.Safonov1
  • Phone in Moscow +7 (495) 215-02-89
  • Phone in the US: +1 (941) 866 1905
  • Web site (in Russian):

Services offered:

  1. Businesses for sale (for L-1A and E-2 prospects)
  2. Real estate in Florida (residential and commercial)
  3. Business consulting
  4. Accounting set up
  5. HR consulting
  6. Premises acquisition
  7. Business planning (including immigration targeted plans)
  8. Florida entities registration
  9. Advertisement

Looking for a Franchise? This Man Can Help

Posted: July 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Sarasota immigrants who invest in a franchise may be able to qualify for an investor visa (here’s a video with more information on qualifying for an investor visa).  However, many of these immigrants are not sure what type of business they want to run.  Vince Otrusina can help.

Mr. Otrusina is a franchise consultant with Franchise Helpers, LLC.  He helps people find the right franchise for them – “matchmaking,” as he calls it.

Immigrant investors can find assistance buying a franchise with Franchise Helpers LLC

Immigrant investors can find assistance buying a franchise with Franchise Helpers, LLC

Mr. Otrusina can match an immigrant investor with a wide variety of franchises from Aamco™ to FastSigns™ to SportClips™ and more.  As he puts it, what matters more than the name of the franchise is matching the buyer’s skill sets with the requirements of the work involved.  Certain investors might want a franchise with a well-known name but the work involved may not fit well with their lifestyle.  Mr. Otrusina makes buyers aware of what is entailed with certain franchises and, once he understands the buyer’s profile, advises them on which franchises would fit best with their lifestyle and skill sets.  “A common mistake made by franchise seekers is to focus on the product or service of the franchise instead of the business model and its characteristics,” he says.

Mr. Otrusina spends extensive amounts of time educating immigrant investors on the franchising process.  He ensures that investors are aware of all the factors they should consider when buying a franchise so they can perform their due diligence effectively.  He spends 3-4 hours educating his clients on the process, urging them to investigate whether there are any lawsuits against the franchisor and to comb over the financial information.

Mr. Otrusina cautions that franchises are not simply bought, they are awarded.  He confides that he often advises immigrant investors to look at other franchise opportunities than the one they were first interested in.  He emphasizes that matching one’s professional profile, the financial strength of the franchisor, and the demands of its day-to-day operation are more important than personal shopping preferences and tastes.

For more information, feel free to read the following documents:

Immigrant investors can find Mr. Otrusina through his website:, or his email:

Sarasota Immigrant Calls on Extensive International Experience

Posted: June 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Sarasota Immigrant and Senior Sales Associate John Gough with Waugh & Co. Inc, Business Brokers Calls on Long and Successful Career in International Business

Sarasota Immigrant and Business Broker John Gough

John Gough

It doesn’t take long, upon meeting Sarasota immigrant and experienced sales associate John Gough (pronounced like “cough”), to realize that underneath his unassuming British modesty is an honest and intelligent man with an impressive career in international business behind him.  Mr. Gough worked for 40 years in the reinsurance market of the prestigious Lloyds of London as a broker and underwriting member.  When he retired he decided to move to Florida, “because of the weather.”  In addition there was the extremely reasonable cost of living and the fact that Mr. Gough is married to an American, a big advantage when it comes to navigating the US immigration system.

That’s not to say that foreigners with non-American spouses can’t successfully relocate to the US.  They most definitely can, and Mr. Gough is here to help.

Mr. Gough negotiates the sale and purchase of the assets of businesses.  Because of his background he specializes in helping UK buyers find a new life in Florida.  A UK citizen, with the money made from selling their house and/or business, can usually afford a modest house AND a business in the US.  Buying a business is the key, not only to a steady income in a new country, but also to the ability to stay in the US long-term.  Buying a business in the US can allow immigrants to obtain investor visas such as the E-2 and EB-5.

Mr. Gough reports, anecdotally, that the majority of foreigners looking to buy a business in Florida are British.  The biggest difference, he says, between foreign buyers and American buyers is that foreign buyers are more committed and often come with cash.  The British tend to buy businesses in the $100-$500K price range that are relatively simple to manage such as franchises, cleaning services, landscaping, and pool service companies.

Usually, a foreign buyer finds a business in Florida through a listing service.  The buyer contacts Mr. Gough for more information and an initial conversation ensues over the phone and/or via email.  Next, the buyer visits Florida to look at the business.  At this point Mr. Gough has the buyer sign a non-disclosure agreement – confidentiality is very important in brokering the sale of a business.  Mr. Gough then looks into the buyer’s background and takes them to meet with the seller of the business(es) that most suit the buyer’s needs.   Once the buyer makes an offer the money is put in escrow while the buyer receives in-depth financial information about the business and performs the due diligence.  When both parties close the money is released to the seller.

Mr. Gough has brokered many successful sales in this manner over the years.

One of the stories Mr. Gough often tells is of the time he was contacted by Sky TV.  The British channel was producing a program that followed a UK couple through the process of buying a business in Florida.  Sky TV wanted to show a business that Mr. Gough had listed; a kayaking business.  So Mr. Gough took everyone out kayaking on Sarasota Bay, TV crew and all.  Another young couple who saw the program contacted Mr. Gough, purchased the business, and have been running it successfully ever since.

Mr. Gough’s most important piece of advice for would-be business owners and sellers is keep good books.

Mr. Gough can be contacted via his cell phone: 941-685-1516 or email: or through his company’s website:  When you talk to him be sure to ask him about his adventures setting up the Chinese reinsurance industry in 1975.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Means Potential Point-Based Visa System

Posted: June 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Employer & Student Visas, Investor Visas | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (S. 744,  “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,”) could overhaul the entire immigration system.  It could accelerate current Green Card applications, increase options for immigrant workers, investors, and entrepreneurs.  It could enable immigrant students to obtain green cards upon completion of certain courses of study.  It could create a path to legalization and citizenship for this nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

In addition, the bill could introduce a merit-based visa.  Once enacted, it would enable 120,000 immigrants to obtain permanent visas each year through the accumulation of points based on their skills, employment history, and level of education.  Visas would be allocated in two tiers with 50% of visas in each tier.  Tier one would encompass high-skilled immigrants and tier 2 would encompass low-skilled immigrants.  The points would be allocated as follows:

Figure 1

Figure 2

In both tiers employment history will play the biggest role, followed by education.  This system seeks to attract the best and brightest to our shores, those who can contribute immediately to our economy.  It seeks to discourage “chain migration” by downplaying family ties.

Immigration Reform would eliminate the diversity visa, the green card lottery that the US government holds every year.  Through the lottery, 50,000 green cards are given to applicants from countries with less than 5,000 immigrants from the previous year.  The program was designed to increase diversity in our immigration system and adjust for the large numbers of immigrants that come from over-represented countries.  The merit-based system would partially replace this system as well as the allowance for siblings of US citizens to apply for family-sponsored visas.

The biggest advantage of the merit-based system would go to legal immigrants who are already working in the US.  Immigrants who currently hold an E-1, E-2, L-1, H-1B or other similar working visa do not have a clear path to a permanent visa.  These visas are temporary and the immigrant must re-qualify from scratch every time they wish to renew; previous successful renewals and time spent in the country are not taken into account.  This creates quite a bit of uncertainty.  A Merit-Based Visa would create a direct path to a permanent visa for such people.

EB-5 Market Updates

Posted: February 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas | Tags: , | No Comments »

The following is a repost of a letter we recently received from CMB Regional Centers regarding the expansion of their EB-5 activities:

CMB has recently been working to expand our geographic scope to include new areas of operation such as Texas, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Additionally, CMB has a variety of news to report in a number of other areas including: a new State of Iowa Regional Center collaboration, continued progress in our $1 million investment, an impending $500,000 partnership release, an EB-5 industry update, and a preview of some upcoming projects. 

In January, CMB Regional Centers was appointed as the exclusive operator of the State of Iowa Regional Center, previously operated by the State of Iowa’s Economic Development Authority (IEDA). While the Iowa Regional Center has already achieved I-526 and I-829 approvals within its dairy investments, CMB and IEDA look to build upon these earlier successes and introduce EB-5 investment to other industry sectors across the State of Iowa. In a recent IEDA Board of Directors meeting, IEDA Director Debi Durham made the following remark of CMB, 

IEDA has conducted extensive due diligence on CMB because the most important part of this process is making sure we have the right partner. It was absolutely essential that the organization representing the State of Iowa has the same high standards and credibility that we expect of ourselves. I’m pleased to say we found that in CMB. 

CMB will join Iowa’s Lt. Governor, Kim Reynolds, on a high-profile Trade Mission to Vietnam and the Philippines in February. The IEDA’s announcement of the partnership with CMB and the Iowa Regional Center may be found on their website: 

As many of you are aware, CMB has recently opened our first $1 million investment opportunity. There are a number of aspects of this partnership that make it unique. This project offers the greatest safety in job creation of any previous CMB partnership. The investor’s capital contribution alone creates 90% of the jobs that are required for an I-829 approval. Additionally, investors need not prove that the investment is located in a qualified targeted employment area. The investment is in one of the most affluent areas of California, or for that matter the United States, thus it is not a high unemployment area and the investment level is $1 million. Further, due to the tiered interest rate schedule, the 5-year loan is structured to incentivize the borrower to repay in approximately three years. Finally, investors are projected to earn a greater rate of return (five times higher) than in other $500,000 CMB partnerships. 

CMB is enthusiastic to announce the upcoming release of our next $500,000 investment partnership. We have received the authorization to raise $80 million of EB-5 capital (160 investor units) from our target investment. Attached to this email is an Overview for the CMB Export Infrastructure Investment Group XI project and a copy of the authorization to raise capital from our target investment Cobra Energy Investments. This Group XI partnership consists of a loan to a second equity partner in the massive Crescent Dunes utility-scale solar facility that was part of CMB’s Group IX investment. CMB structured Group IX’s investment with SolarReserve in anticipation for a second EB-5 funding to a separate equity partner other than SolarReserve. The original SolarReserve project specifically addressed the job creation allocation between the two investment groups. In other words, USCIS anticipates this additional funding because the possibility was discussed in the I-526 filings of Group IX and the USCIS has been clearly informed that no jobs would be double counted. 

We are working to finalize the overall project documents such as the loan agreement and the partnership documents: Escrow, Limited Partnership Agreement, Private Placement Memorandum, and the Subscription Agreement. Once the loan agreement is finalized, we will build the various partnership agreements and they will be sent to the interested parties for review. CMB investments continue to be in high demand. As such, CMB has experienced challenges in meeting the interests of all those wishing to invest in a CMB partnership. In this project and future projects (see below), we will not accept investors or allocate any units in the projects until all documents are complete. I need to repeat that we will not hold any units for any reason, unless those units were promised in conjunction with a $1 million Group XII investor placement. However, we will keep you informed of our progress in order for you to prepare your clients for the next CMB project. We expect our lawyers will need about four weeks to finish the negotiations for the final loan document. Over the next 3 to 4 weeks please read the overview, review the authorization to raise capital letter, and ask questions of our staff in order to be ready when the loan agreement is finalized and the partnership documents are produced. If you followed CMB Group IX (SolarReserve), then you will see that this is a very similar project and one we are very proud to introduce. 

Recent events in the EB-5 industry have shed light on the value of quality due diligence. The recent SEC charges against certain Regional Center principals responsible for the Chicago Convention Center project show that it does not make sense to cut corners in this industry. CMB develops projects methodically and transparently to prevent problems of this nature. CMB has been aware of this problematic project for some time and has spoken out against it. We believe that this unfortunate instance reinforces the value of waiting for a CMB project. We know many of you have shown incredible patience in waiting for the next CMB project and we thank you. 

In the coming months we expect Congress to convene hearings concerning immigration policies in general and EB-5 in particular. These discussions will focus upon the perceived quality of the EB-5 program, the problems in the industry, challenges of the USCIS, and the future of the Regional Center Program. President Obama has recently voiced his support of reauthorizing the EB-5 Regional Center Program permanently. CMB is fully engaged in this process and believes that this is an excellent opportunity to institute reforms to reduce the potential for industry fraud, as was recently witnessed in Chicago. 

Finally, we want to announce some other upcoming projects that we have been developing. These projects are not yet ready for release, but have reached the stage where we believe commencement is imminent. As mentioned earlier, we have been expanding our geographic reach to include new states and some of these projects reflect that expansion. 

  • Texas-Construction of luxury multi-family apartments located in a historic building-approximately $87 million in total project costs-anticipated $25 million EB-5 loan (50 investor units)
  • California-Construction of two mixed-use industrial buildings -approximately $76 million in total project costs-anticipated $20 million EB-5 loan (40 investor units)
  • Nevada-Construction of a utility-scale solar facility with a 25-year executed Power Purchase Agreement in place -approximately $680 million in total project costs-anticipated $60 million EB-5 loan (120 investor units)
  • Texas-Construction and operation of multi-use hotel and convention center-approximately $577 million in total project costs-anticipated $300 million EB-5 loan (600 investor units)
  • California-Construction and operation of a destination resort hotel-approximately $300 million in total project costs-anticipated $116 million EB-5 loan (232 investor units) 

Obviously, we plan to have many high-quality partnerships available throughout the coming months. We anticipate the official release of the Group XI Cobra partnership in approximately one month. The purpose of this announcement is simply to introduce to our marketplace this upcoming opportunity and to share our excitement about the other potential projects that are coming this year. We expect 2013, the Chinese year of the snake with our first large project a Cobra, to be our most successful year to date! Happy New Year!

EB-5 Cut-off Date May Have to be Established for China

Posted: November 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas, National News | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

The latest Department of State Visa Bulletin warns that a cut-off date for EB-5 Visas for Chinese citizens may have to be established.  This is not surprising due to the overwhelming number of Chinese citizens who apply for the EB-5 Investor Visa.  70% of current applicants are Chinese.

Approximately 10,000 EB-5 Visas are allocated each year for investors from around the world.  However, when the number of applicants from a particular country reaches a certain level, the Department of State establishes a cut-off date for that country.  When this happens, applicants can submit their green card petitions, but an immigrant visa or green card will not be issued to the applicant until his or her place is reached on a waiting list. 

Residents of countries that send many immigrants to America such as China, Mexico, India and the Philippines, often experience cut-off dates.  In some cases, waiting times develop only for family sponsored green card applications and in other cases it is for employment based green card applications. 

The EB-5 Investor Visa is awarded to foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 in a qualified, job-creating project in the United States.  The funds must have been lawfully gained.  To read more about the EB-5 Visa and other investor visas check out

New Investment Opportunity at Iconic Miami Beach Hotel Astor

Posted: October 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

A South Florida hotel project is seeking funds from foreign investors who want to live in the United States.  A group renovating the 42-room Hotel Astor in Miami Beach aims to raise $5 million from 10 foreign investors — or $500,000 each — through the U.S. employment based visa program called EB-5.

Those investors will get equity in the Art Deco gem and can sign up Aug. 17 through Sept. 30.

A different group of developers had looked to EB-5 investors to raise $75 million for construction of the 17-story, 349- room Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort.  But their efforts failed, leaving the future of that project uncertain.

It is believed that a $5 million goal for the Astor’s renovation is achievable, because the amount needed is smaller, the Art Deco hotel well established and South Beach better known for investment than Hollywood beach.

EB-5 investors in the Astor project will most likely come largely from Colombia, Venezuela and other South American nations, whose affluent residents are familiar with Miami Beach.

Renovation of the Astor, located at 956 Washington Ave., is expected to create 110 direct jobs.  To qualify for U.S. residency visas, EB-5 investors must create 10 jobs each in the United States.

Contact David J. Hart for more information: 305 577 9977 or

21 SE First Avenue
10th Floor
Miami FL 33131

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