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[HOT] Documenting both lawful & immediate source


Under the EB-5 law, the lawful source is the primary (and one of the few) requirement that must be documented by the Investor. Specifically, 8 CFR Sec. 204.6(j)(3 requires:

either foreign business registration records; corporate, partnership and personal tax returns filed within 5 years; evidence identifying any other source of capital; or documentation of court judgments or pending court cases.


Because of the "either" clause, it seems to follow that one or more of the listed documents can be submitted to meet the lawful source requirement. However, in practice, the 5 years of tax return should be the starting point, and then, any other persuasive documentary evidences should be submitted. Keep in mind, however, that although the burden is with the Investor applicant, USCIS is being pretty reasonable these days. I would try to submit the documents that would persuade your smart grand, without trying to write a thesis.

Practice Pointers:

Note the lawful & immediate source requirements are the same for Regional Center and non-Regional Center EB-5 cases.

1. You do not have to prove that you made $100 Million USD. You just need to prove you lawfully earned or received $500,000 USD plus enough to live on. Basically, do not try to prove your client is Bill Gates, but just an average Millionaire next door.

2. Realize that probably almost no one can 100% clearly prove the lawful source requirement if the USCIS keeps on asking for the past source of the money, simply because initial money is required to make more money, and we don't keep all records to show that the initial money was used to make more money, and then so on.

3. Do not try to fudge or lie. Where you cannot prove certain link in the financial history, use a sincere and clearly-drafted affidavit.

4. You can always submit the documents for longer than the suggested number of years, but try to keep it reasonable, because USCIS examiner does not want to see your tax returns for the last 20 years.

5. Do not worry too much if you cannot get ready every piece of the below-described documents. Every EB-5 case has a little potential defect here and there.

6. Do not forget to meet the "Immediate Source" requirement, after you prepared well to meet the "Lawful Source" docs.

7. Different legal and business systems of different countries may impact EB-5 case from that country.

8. Each Investor made the money through different routes, so focus on showing the road traveled. If you can tell the story of the road traveled in a simple manner, your I-526 should be approved.

9. Money made by a spouse can be used by another spouse.

10. A judgment must be exercised in determining how far to go back with the documentation.

Suggested docs list to document the Lawful Source:

1. Financial Documents:

  • Tax returns for 5 years (individual, partnership and corporate, if available). It does not hurt to submit tax returns for longer period.
  • Any audited or unaduted financial statement.

2. Investments

  • Copies of investment or stock accounts for the last two years to show profits made.
  • Bank statement for the last two years to show you maintained a substantial balance in the bank account.

3. Business Documents

  • Business registration records for your primary business, wehther in or outside the U.S.;
  • Business promotional brochure or website address;
  • Documents to show you either own such business or you are an executive, manager or employee of the business or company.
  • If you sold your business for profit, business sales documents to show you sole the business for profit.
  • If you have accountant's appraisal or evaluation of the value of the business in which you own substantial interest.
  • For each business you should have a brief summary to show relevant info, such as Name of Business, Place of Incorporation, Nature of Business, % of Ownership, etc.

4. Real Estate

  • Documents showing your ownership in real properties, such as Deed, Trust Deed or mortgage documents, purchases and sales documents.
  • Appraisal docs if you have them.
  • If you have rental income, lease agreements to show that rental income.
  • For each real property, you should provide a summary info, including Address of Property, Purchase Amount, Mortgage Amount, Date of Purchase, etc.

5. Real Estate

  • Documents showing your ownership in real properties, such as Deed, Trust Deed or mortgage documents, purchases and sales documents.
  • Appraisal docs if you have them.
  • If you have rental income, lease agreements to show that rental income.
  • For each real property, you should provide a summary info, including Address of Property, Purchase Amount, Mortgage Amount, Date of Purchase, etc.
  • If a loan is borrowed using the real property as collateral, then the loan agreement and security agreement

6. Employment Docs

  • Your resume and educational docs
  • Professional licenses
  • Awards or recognitions you received related to your work. If you won a Nobel Prize, you should not be embarrassed to show it.
  • Employment contracts.
  • Newspaper, magazine or internet articles written about you and your work.

7. Other Sources of Income

  • Gifts -- all docs to show that you received gift
  • Inheritance -- all docs to show you received inheritances
  • Divorce settlement docs
  • Lawsuit settlement docs
  • Winning lotto -- if you are lucky enough.

Suggested docs list to document the Immediate Source requirement:

In addition to the lawful source docs, you should show the trace or link from the previous sources (including overseas) to the designated Escrow Bank Account. These "Immediate Source" proof documents include:

  • wire transfers
  • deposit slips
  • bank statement showing withdrawls and deposits
  • bank letter confirming the wire transfers

In conclusion, there is no one set way of preparing the lawful & immediate source docs. For example, you may even want to include some photos of the family members. But any way you slice it, the lawful and immediate source docs require a lot of docs; and that's why the I-526 petition packet can get very thick and heavy.