23 Aug Indian EB-5 Mythbusters with Harjap Bhangal – Episode 66
The ‘agent culture’ in India causes a lot of confusion as unqualified agents spread misinformation about the immigration process. In this episode, Mona and Rebecca sit down with Harjap Bhangal to take on the role of Indian EB-5 Mythbusters, sharing the truth about processing times and the risk involved in investing in a project. Listen in to understand why so many Indian immigrants choose the US and learn where to go for accurate information on the legal routes to getting your visa.
Harjap Bhangal’s early days as an attorney were spent helping immigrants get out of detention centers in the UK. He wondered why so many educated Indian people were choosing illegal routes rather than one of the many legitimate options available, and it didn’t take him long to realize that they simply had no knowledge of the legal opportunities. Harjap made it his mission to educate the people of India on how to abide by the rules and enter the UK properly.
Harjap is Senior Partner at GLS Solicitors Global Legal Solutions in the UK. He is a well-known immigration lawyer and the host of Legal Solutions, a weekly TV show that addresses questions around the legal routes to obtain a visa. Harjap’s areas of expertise include immigration, advocacy and human rights, and he has been practicing law since 2002.
In this episode, Mona, Rebecca, and Harjap discuss the myriad of reasons why Indians choose the US, despite the high cost of living and the current anti-immigrant climate. Harjap explains the ‘agent culture’ in India, sharing the danger in trusting an unqualified agent and the misinformation they spread to retain business. Listen in for Harjap’s insight on the top myths around EB-5 in India and learn why you are not guaranteed to get your money back when you invest in a project.
Why Indians Choose the US
• The United States is a popular destination in part because of the American influence on Indian culture. The young people in India watch US television programs and want to go to the places they’ve seen on screen.
• There is also a sense of prestige associated with immigrating to the US. America is viewed as being difficult to get into and better than the other available options, and Indians don’t mind the higher cost of living.
The Danger in Trusting an Unqualified Agent
• The ‘agent culture’ in India causes much confusion, as unqualified agents spread misinformation about the process. They imply that once you get to the US or the UK, you will get your green card right away.
• Agents may also suggest that there are no direct routes to the US or UK and that only agents can get you there. This allows them to traffic people via a visitor visa to Moscow before sending them by car or truck over the border of Slovakia and eventually to the UK.
• Most agents in India either don’t know or don’t care about the legal routes to immigration, and their ‘no win, no fee’ approach means that they will take your money whether or not they can deliver. Also, they are not concerned about what happens to you once you get to the new country, and they do not feel obligated to worry about your aftercare—or whether or not you get your money back.
• Immigration attorneys can help you abide by the rules and enter the US or the UK legally. They will only take you on as a client if they believe they can give you the product, and attorneys put your chances of success in writing.
The Top Myths Around EB-5 in India
• Harjap contends that the biggest myth around EB-5 in India is that different projects have different processing times. While it is true that a project can be expedited or pre-approved in the form of an exemplar project, that doesn’t necessarily translate to a faster adjudication time.
• Another huge misconception about EB-5 in India is that you are guaranteed to get your money back. Risk is an inherent part of investing in EB-5, and your interest rate should reflect that risk. In fact, the Immigration and Nationality Act states that EB-5 applicants must have a chance of loss as well as a chance of gain.
• Many Indians are also under the impression that they will get their money back right away. In reality, it takes three to four years for a project to stabilize, and most do not start turning a profit until year five.
The Value of Education
• Harjap argues that ‘no matter the question, the answer is education,’ and he is on a mission to educate the Indian population on the legal routes to immigration. His television show is broadcast weekly in the UK and made available on YouTube as well.
• Harjap also suggests that immigration attorneys go out and meet their clients where they are. His firm has offices in the areas of London where there is a significant Indian population, and GLS maintains an office in India as well.