NEW YORK: Indian American Suresh Rajan is the Chief Executive Officer of LCR Capital Partners, a partner-owned private investment firm started by first generation US immigrants that deploys EB-5 investments as growth capital in the well-established U.S. franchise and hospitality industry sectors, primarily in the quick service restaurant (QSR) and real-estate segments.
In an e-mail interview to News India Times, Rajan talks about the prospects of the EB-5 visa, which secures a Green Card for an individual and his immediate family members, upon a minimum investment in projects that are approved by the US government.
At present the minimum investment for investors to be eligible for the EB-5 program is $500,000, but the US government has come up with a new proposal, which if approved, would see the investment jump to anywhere from $1.3 million-$1.8 million.
Excerpts of the interview with Suresh Rajan:
Does LCR Capital Partners extend loans to only Indians in India or in US also?
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is an opportunity open to every non-American inside and outside the US. LCR Capital has been successful in working with clients from India, Brazil, South Africa, Switzerland, China, Canada, Italy to name a few. While we work in many different countries, India has been one of our priority markets as there are substantial numbers of Indian nationals looking to the US for better educational and professional opportunities.
Which states are you most active in the US?
Our home office is based in Westport, CT, with operations in Miami, FL; Los Angeles, CA and Nashville, TN. However, since the EB-5 Investor Program is focused on the rest of the world, our team has offices in different countries around the globe, including India, Brazil, China, Dubai and South Africa.
My team here in the US is constantly traveling across the continents and so do I. We understand the need of our clients to spend quality time with us to understand the program and develop trust in our ability to manage their investment to successfully process their EB-5 Visas.
How many Indians from India have you helped make the transition to the US?
So far, LCR has begun processing 32 Indians’ EB-5 Visas in 2016 and filed their I-526 applications, and many more are in the process of filing. India is among the top 5 EB-5 investor markets. Our India focused team is comprised of Marc Sharpe, Rogelio Caceres, David Amaro, Sandhya Kapoor and Dinesh Goel, and work with our Indian clients with a full understanding of the need for many individuals to secure the EB-5 Visa and enriching their family’s future.
What’s the success rate of securing franchise?
LCR is very focused on finding the best multi-unit franchise operators across the US, with very good credit ratings, coupled with good underwriting, to deploy growth capital that will generate many more that the minimum jobs required for permanent residency approval and the highest likelihood of return of investment capital. Franchise businesses have proven to be the second largest job creating economic sector, by contributing 8.9 million jobs in 2016. On an average, each franchise establishment creates at least 18 jobs, while the minimum requirement for EB-5 Investor Program is at least 10 full-time American jobs.
There’s a backlog in EB5 visa right now. How do you deal with that?
Currently, only the market in China is experiencing retrogression with the demand for permanent residency. A total of 111 EB-5 visas were issued to Indian investors in 2015, compared to 8,156 to Chinese investors, thus the backlog. The cap for Chinese investors is filling up sooner compared to any other country. Indian investors have no such worries. Indian market has recently been introduced to EB-5 visa and in the past few years their interest and curiosity has been growing with time, and so are their EB-5 visas.
DHS has proposed 270% increase in investment in EB5 visa. Would your business model still be viable if that happens?
It’s not just about the capital invested, but the requirement of the program and econometrics plays a huge role. The EB-5 Visa program aims at creating more jobs by investing in new businesses thus, the increase in investment would be a heavier lift financially for the investor but not for the investment vehicle. We have designed our business model to perform well under changing regulations and macro economic conditions. Frankly, our investment choices are better suited to multiple changes that others cannot adjust to, and we still can offer better risk mitigation with our funds.