Immigration dilemma

Facebook 2b || !2b
Jan 15, 2018 78 Comments

Disclaimers:
1. This post is not about criticizing or supporting the immigration policy. So please keep that discussion off this. This is purely about individual choices given the current policy and environment.
2. Yes, I am an Indian and looking to "do the needful". So you don't have to ask the standard troll questions. If there are other insults or disparaging stereotypes you would like to throw at me, I'll gladly include them here, if it makes the trolls go away so the discussion can stay on topic.

I am trying to decide between staying in the US versus returning to India. I was kind of gong through the +1 syndrome/phenomenon, but the recent H1B extension thing has given me a pause. I think I should make the call on whether I want to stay or go back. Apart from other (family, parents back home) concerns, which I'm dealing with, I would like advice about finance/life style.

I've about 1M in savings, thanks to FB's stock price. I have not bought a house yet. My kids are not born in the US and adding that to the recent H1B extension scare makes me think the only way to stay in the US is by getting a green card. Without that, there is no peace of mind. I know that is kind of a privileged statement to make, but that is my opinion. As I already mentioned in the disclaimers, this is not a criticism of the policy. This is just my perception.

I'm trying to decide whether to spend/invest 500k to get an EB5 GC, or to go back to India and use that 1M to provide me with a comfortable life, while probably working in a comfortable job (something like 30L). What would you do?

Spending a large portion of my savings on this, means I'll have to compromise on some things. I believe I will still be able to buy a house though may have to settle for something smaller than before. I think that is the essence of it. I have to make a choice between below average middle class life (average among the tech crowd in the bay area), here in the US versus above average life in India, with the all the things it includes: kids' education, traffic issues, pollution etc.

I don't yet know what kind of jobs and salary I can expect in India. I am not a manager, but an (old) engineer, so I don't know what kind of openings I have. Some friends back in India told me that it's harder to find positions as an engineer in India beyond 10+ years of experience. I haven't started exploring yet.

Are there any gotchas in EB5 process? Is there a chance of not getting a green card after putting the money in?

Is the money that you put in, effectively spent, or is it an investment that you can withdraw in x years? If I can withdraw even just the principal in a few years, it may come in handy for the kids' college. So even if it doesn't have any gains, that may be okay and I can treat it as the cost of getting the privilege of green card.

What do Blinders think?

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TOP 78 Comments
  • Apple Veet51
    My $0.02: What do YOU want to do? What does your FAMILY want to do?
    Buying a car or a house can be a logical decision. Deciding which country to live the rest of your life in, although involves logic, can hardly be a calculated decision. You only know a fraction of the pros and cons of your options. Do what your collective hearts really want, you'll easily deal with the consequences together and live a happier life. Isn't that the only thing that matters in life?

    Logically, I can't see much reason to discourage you from either option so long as you take reasonable measures to ensure it works out.
    Jan 15, 2018 2
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      True. I wish I could do that. It's the fear of choices that we make for our kids, that worries us. Are we depriving the kids of a better future by moving back? Are we harming them by practically severing family ties and making them rootless? Is it worth it? Even though it is the same case whether we stay on H1 versus GC, it has a sense of finality to it and that is kind of scary.
      These are the questions we are struggling with.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Apple Veet51
      Why not tell your kids (if they're old enough to understand things) the good and the bad about either choice and ask them what they want? Seems like you grew up in India and turned out okay. I'm guessing you'll be able to provide your kids a better life than you had wherever you live.

      Is there really such a thing as "best"? Everything is a trade-off, it's up to us to decide which is worth it.

      PS: I'm speaking from the perspective of a kid who was asked this very same question long long ago and had to make up my own mind about what I wanted. Did I wish I'd taken the alternate path? Sure, sometimes. But that's not unique to either path, I'm sure I'd have doubted myself either way. All choices/decisions come precertified with "what if" thoughts built into them.
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Oracle Five
    I would take EB5 route, if I were you.
    Remember that you aren’t throwing 500k in the drain. You are just investing in a business (mostly a hotel/commercial property). You can get out of it after 5 years I believe. Say in worst case, you lose 20% on your 500k, you are essentially paying 100k for GC and citizenship at end of 5 years. Considering the current circumstances, that looks like a fair deal to me. But say you end up with no loss or even a marginal profit, you would be a happy man. Talk to a good law firm who specializes in EB5 and if you are convinced, take that route before they close it forever!
    Dont get carried away by BS like starting startup in India and stuff. Those are all fairy tales. If you are really that kind, you would have already done it and succeeded. Remember that once you get citizenship, you always have the choice of staying/moving where-ever you want and you are giving that choice to your kids once they grow up. I would value that liberty and choice worth more that 100k/200k.
    Jan 15, 2018 1
    • Amazon / Eng
      DaaamDoood

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      GitHub
      DaaamDooodmore
      So... recommendations for good law firms?
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Microsoft
    yMcg47

    Microsoft

    BIO
    Amicitiae nostrae memoriam spero sempiternam fore
    yMcg47more
    I thought do the needful means get laid
    Jan 15, 2018 2
    • Apple Veet51
      It means learn to read. Once you've developed that skill, go back to the top and read the Disclaimers.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Microsoft
      yMcg47

      Microsoft

      BIO
      Amicitiae nostrae memoriam spero sempiternam fore
      yMcg47more
      How is that related to my msg
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Apple Bnhjk56
    EB5 has a minimum 4 years waiting period after you file the i526 during which your money must be held in escrow without you being able to access it. After that you have another 1-2 years wait to get your i485 approved as there is backlog there too due to need for interviews. After that another 2 years to apply to remove the conditional status of your green card though that i829 also has a 2.5 year wait. So to get a non conditional green card it will take 8+ years through EB5 from the date you apply. Currently congress has not approved extension of the EB5 program at current $500k level and hence if you see visa bulletin it will show up as unavailable until it is reauthorized
    Jan 15, 2018 6
    • Apple Bnhjk56
      Yes Canada is a much faster and better option. Current processing date is 2015 dec for EB5 but it does not move linearly. Last one year it only moved from July 2015 to Dec2015. So it moves at 5-6months per year assuming same inflow of applicants.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Facebook kadlekai
      Wow, that is much slower than I thought. Thanks for the details.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • New / Eng Rox
      Canada is not a good option if you have the capital to invest. USA = 100x Canada in terms of tech and opportunities for startups
      Jan 16, 2018
    • New / Eng PragaCoder
      I checked priority dates for eb5 and it says it is current right now. Only for Chinese citizens it is July 2014. Correct me if I am wrong here.
      Jan 22, 2018
    • Apple Bnhjk56
      Priority dates are once your i526 application has been processed. Check IPO processing times for i526 and the removal of conditional status processing date currently.
      Jan 22, 2018
  • Glassdoor gdoor
    If I were you, I would go back and won't for someone else back home. There are many things to choose from. For example you can work on your startup and fund it through your money or the interest that you get on your money. Or you can also chose to do some other business
    Think restaurants or fast food chain.. the possibilities are endless when you have a capital like 1M.
    Jan 15, 2018 5
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      Thanks. That thought (of working for myself) does occur, but I am not sure I've the drive and energy.
      Ideally, I'd like to work on something that makes a positive (even if tiny) difference to India, while making a living out of it. I don't want to be in the rat race to earn, but use my savings as providing some asset and a cushion while earning enough to provide for my daily needs without dipping into my savings. I want to use the savings for retirement and kids' education.
      Any ideas on what kind of companies that exist that I can join, or what kind of business I can start?
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Apple Veet51
      Search for "social startups India", you'll find plenty that fit your bill if you wade through the results. Check this too: https://www.meetup.com/Bangalore-Social-Entrepreneurs-and-Startups/
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      Thanks @Veet51. I will go though these. I've been a sceptic of tech startups making a social change, but that is just a bias. I will look more into it, and would be happy if my preconceived notion turns out to be wrong.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Apple Veet51
      Glad to help! Would love to hear what you find in your research.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • New / Eng Rox
      India startup scene is much bigger than people realize. Soon it’ll be in top 3 worldwide
      Jan 16, 2018
  • Facebook glfm
    I would not go back because of h1b scene neither spend 500k... you will end up getting GC.. be patient... I would go to India only coz I wanna live in India..
    Jan 15, 2018 1
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      Sorry if I sounded that going back to India was a forced choice. Like I said, there are all the other issues with family ties etc, that I am still dealing with. I wanted to keep them separate and off this discussion. I want to focus this primarily on finance/lifestyle issues.
      As for GC, I used to think that too (that something will change and we'll get green cards). But the recent happenings have scared me. I'm losing sleep over these thoughts. If I'm staying, I'd like to have the freedom of making choices - quitting FB and working for a startup for instance. Or my wife having a career without scare of losing that one day because of policy changes etc. And not having to be concerned every 3 years. And having the freedom to visit our parents whenever they need us, without having to worry about my visa status etc.
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Microsoft / Mgmt IamSatya
    Would recommend Moving back to the roots. Lot of positives like family ties, home food, freedom in choosing jobs, taking breaks, better relative pay and with this much of savings you can follow other dreams as well.. probably have a nice house in hill station etc.. also I feel the quality of education in India Till high school is better than here. You can also choose city like pune with lesser pollution and traffic. Just my two cents.. even I am contemplating the same and ultimately it come down to your priorities.. you won’t get everything in one place :(
    Jan 15, 2018 1
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      I agree with everything else but quality of education. I dislike the system of teaching in India. I've heard some international schools now offer different systems of teaching, but charge fees in USD which means I may not be able to support them with my 30L job, and have to dip into my savings.
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Twitter / Eng bahubully
    Try to join company with an office in India (goog/msft). Transfer there and work till you become engineering manager and come back on l1 if you want. You can get GC fairly quickly then.
    Jan 15, 2018 1
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      I don't think management is an option for me. As in, I'm not gong to be a good manager. My people skills are kind of limited. :-)
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Amazon Qlch60
    You've do different problems:
    Going back to India or staying here: I'd recommend taking time off and spending a month or so in India. That'd give you some perspective of daily life there. Look how it commute is going to be.

    Regarding EB5: You'll need to do a lot of research and watch out for EB5 fraud.
    Jan 15, 2018 0
  • Amazon Datarobot
    1M is awesome savings ..You have plenty options .I would go to Europe -closer to India + saner immigration than the US and you don’t have to compromise on quality of life .How about internal transfer to Facebook London ?
    Jan 15, 2018 6
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      Thanks @Datarobot. I've not given serous thought to Europe. My thinking was, if I'm going to uproot the whole family, why not just move to India. Also Brexit and the discussion around it made me think UK is not going to be immigrant friendly (esp to a non-white, third world origin person). As for the rest of Europe, I have a romantic idea of life in those countries, esp Nordic countries or Netherlands, but heard that it is really hard or impossible to get a citizenship.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Microsoft UMbR31
      Yeah learning the language is a pretty basic step zero. I feel you are a permanent outsider even if you're proficient in language, lived there for 1or 2 generations, etc
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Microsoft UMbR31
      I guess it's just a personal thing man. I've never felt 'at home' in Europe, Australia or Canada. Felt so in Seattle, bay area and India though. You know that feeling when you land to the voice of "Welcome to Chatrapathi Shivaji International Airport" and your inner voice instantly responds with "f*** yeah that's right I've arrived home" ?
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Microsoft UMbR31
      Nice. Good for you man.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Amazon Datarobot
      @op living in the UK as an Indian is way better than the US from personal experience .This whole racism in Europe and “belonging” in the US is really overrated .Also you are always a second class citizen in some ways in any country outside India
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Amazon lingading
    I wouldn't go back to India. Quality of life in the general sense is better in the US (India - pollution, adulteration of food, overcrowding, difficult admissions into colleges etc). You can't put a price on that especially when it comes to family and kids. Use that money, and go on annual trips to India so your kids don't lose the connection. It's a tough decision, but I fought through it as well. I'll have less money here, which I'm completely fin with, but it builds a stable foundation for the next generation. It seems your vision is very short sighted. Think long term - 20-30 years from now. No amount of money can stop the corruption in India. PM me if you'd like.
    Jan 15, 2018 3
    • Apple Veet51
      Here's a different perspective. If every generation took short-term suboptimal decisions for the sake of longer-term future generations to reap the rewards, then no generation would ever have lived a happy life. There's always, always a better life out there, the question is at what cost and is it truly worth it.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Amazon hUlak
      You can be happy with less. Change the mindset. Be happy and help the next generation.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Apple Veet51
      There's so much contradiction in your few lines that I'll not even try to point out.
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Microsoft keeper!
    I would go back to India if I am in your position !!
    Jan 15, 2018 2
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      Thanks. What is the clincher for you?
      Jan 15, 2018
    • New / Eng Rox
      H1B restriction + GC wait + US taxes worldwide
      Jan 16, 2018
  • VMware playuh
    EB5 minimum investment is rising to 1.3 million very soon. There is uscis rulemaking that is in final stages for the same
    Jan 15, 2018 0
  • Microsoft BogusMilus
    Required minimum investments are:

    General. The minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million.

    Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area). The minimum qualifying investment either within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States is $500,000.
    Jan 15, 2018 0
  • Uber STarly
    Have you considered applying for NIW green card (national interest waiver) or if you are well established in the field for EB1? Involves more paperwork but cheaper options.
    Jan 15, 2018 3
    • Deutsche Bank LPeJ52
      Do you know of people who have successfully done this ? Without a phd ?
      Jan 15, 2018
    • PayPal Jhing
      I was reading up the requirements and it seems like only scientists/scholars/phds can apply for it. Any exceptions for that ?
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Uber STarly
      People I know all had PhDs but were employed in tech. So they were not scientists or scholars per se.
      Jan 16, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng
    DaaamDoood

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    GitHub
    DaaamDooodmore
    I was in your boat. We moved back to India for 3 years (worked on startups etc.) but my kid was miserable in school. We were sending her to a very highly recommended 1lakh/quarter pre-school (she was 3.5 then). But there was already pressure to do “homework”.

    Eventually we moved back. She’s now in elementary school and loves her school and work she does there.

    That to me is the clincher. I’d rather move to Canada or a similar school/society.
    Jan 15, 2018 3
    • VMware playuh
      1 lakh per month for preschool? That must be a typo
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      DaaamDoood

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      GitHub
      DaaamDooodmore
      No it’s not. It was supposed to be a really good one.
      Jan 15, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      DaaamDoood

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      GitHub
      DaaamDooodmore
      Ok sorry, it was 1lakh per quarter (after asking my spouse about it). It’s been about 5 years now.
      Jan 15, 2018
  • I know couple of managers(M1) at FB who went for Google to work in India. Now, in the process of coming back on L1 and EB-1 international manager. That’d help you get an insight whether you really want to work in India or move back to US. Also, if you don’t like you’d be a notch higher EB-1. My take is EB-5 is kind of pointless unless that money is worthless to you and not any expecting returns.
    Jan 15, 2018 1
    • Deutsche Bank LPeJ52
      Looks like a good option but how did they go from FB US to Google India ?
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Microsoft HDnI53
    Hmm... Imagine you moved back, you work for 50lpa, very much achievable, you aren't worried much about career since you have seen a lot of it here already. You have lot of money to invest or experiment, you get the best lifestyle in India. Live like a king there. let it sink in and keep imagining for some more time before you read the next few lines......

    What was the first thought after reading the above? Was it fear/regret of missing out more in the US or was it further thoughts of how you would live life and enjoy in India? Hope you find your answer.
    Jan 15, 2018 1
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      If I was thinking purely of myself, I'd move in a heartbeat. It's the uncertainty of which is a better option for the kids that is holding me back.
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Microsoft TJIt15
    I have been thinking the same but unfortunately I do not have 1M as savings. EB5 investment is not backed by securities. There is no guarantee all or any portion of that investment is going to come back.
    Jan 15, 2018 1
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      I know I've been lucky and there are a lot of people (probably more deserving than me) who are in worse situation. I hope things turn out well for all of us.
      Jan 15, 2018
  • Twitch hTTczbYEzJ
    Take a transfer through FB.. work in their offshore offices.. there are many Asian countries with easy immigration policies.. you will be close to India as well.. if nothing works out, move back to India..
    Jan 15, 2018 1
    • Facebook 2b || !2b
      OP
      Unfortunately, FB doesn't have core engineering in Asia (other than Tel Aviv) AFAIK.
      Jan 15, 2018