In Part III of our “EB-5 Insights from the Experts” blog series, we spoke with Sam Udani, the publisher of, a leading immigration law publisher with over 300,000+ monthly visitors and over 33,000 subscribers. Since Sam has been in the EB-5 industry for almost 30 years, there was a lot to discuss with him, including the current state of the EB-5 program and market during COVID-19 pandemic, I-829s, and why this isn’t the worst the industry has seen in his opinion.

If you missed Part I of our EB-5 blog series kick-off with attorneys Robert Divine and H. Ronald Klasko, please click here. Part II of our EB-5 Q&A series with Tom Rosenfeld can be read here, too.

please click here. Part II of our EB-5 Q&A series with Tom Rosenfeld can be read here, too.

In your experience, you’ve probably seen a lot of ups and downs in the program. What’s unique about this era for EB-5?

The late 1990s to the early 2000s is the period for the EB-5 program that’s perhaps worse than what we’re going through now because of Matter of Izummi, which clarifies whether an equity investment is “at risk.” During that time, we had a small market of investors, just a few hundred a year. The issue was finding a proper way to interpret Matter of Izummi and we had to get Congress involved, which took a number of years, but the modern shape that we have of Matter of Izummi was eventually established. The previous interpretation of Matter of Izummi was kind of blanket against any kind of loan funds whatsoever and many other problems that Izummi created in those years.

Now the reason I say it’s not bad now is because I have confirmed reports of wires coming in in the post-COVID period.

Normally agents will accompany investors to banks, physically hold their hand and take them out to lunch and dinner and ensure that the wire comes through. That last one yard requires a lot of physical closeness, which none of us can do anywhere in the world, but we have confirmed reports from Vietnam and Korea of agents accomplishing those wires and helping families through their last one yard to the goal.

Living in America is still highly desirable because people believe in living a higher quality of life. People from Indian and other countries might be more orientated to come to the U.S. because of this. Health is a big issue.

What is your forecast for COVID-19 and the EB-5 market for the rest of the year?

I think it’s fair to say that certain things are not that easy to figure out for anyone anymore. We’re all in a fog, trying to look past the fog, and we know there’s sunshine in the other end. We’re probably going to get the biggest boom when we get to the sunshine, but is 3 months away, 9 months away, or 2 years away?

There is a market for EB-5 during the COVID, and the market is not going down to zero.

Any potential road bumps for filing I-829s?

All of these projects have cycles, and many of them will potentially be entering the repayment cycles as the COVID pandemic is ending and how are they going to do that if their principal asset is a hotel, and deeply in the red, has no resell value, and cannot be refinanced?

The projects who counted operational jobs in the pre-COVID world were at an advantage because hotels are large employers and they can take in more capital in their stack or have a bigger buffer or bigger safety in their margin. Now this is not true.

Now the projects that count operational jobs may have difficulty in delivering other jobs because the hotel sector, even once we enter the post-COVID world may not recover right away. It may take a year, 2 or 3 years for hotels to recover, and if those years are the years within when the I-829s have to start getting filed, then if you are counting on operational jobs that jobs that don’t exist because the revenues aren’t there, and you can’t show operational jobs, it may put the immigration outcome in jeopardy.

It’s going to start some degree of tension between issuers and investors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a tremendous amount of litigation in the post-COVD period over these issues.

If Congress goes ahead and adds visa capacity as part of an economic recovery package, how important is it to adjust the pricing from the current $900,000?

If you increase the visas from 10,000 to 15,000, then maybe you don’t need to touch that $900,000 number. There’s no point increasing the number from X to Y if you can’t sell Y. If you’re going to increase it to 75,000, do you need any other changes in the program? Are you sure you’re going to get that many people?

It’s common sense, if you want to sell a lot of something, then you have to reduce the price, and 50 percent sounds like a terrific bargain.

If Congress wants to, they can limit the visa increase for a certain amount of time to help the country get through this current capital crunch. It’s up to Congress what they want to do, but there is a clear connection between larger numbers and lower investment amounts.

Congress needs the capital now and, realistically, they’re going to need a lot of capital for a very long time to climb out of this hole.

For more information about ILW, please visit or email Sam Udani at

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