By Mona Shah, Esq. and Rebecca S. Singh, Esq.
At first sight, one could be excused for thinking that this was an article relating to cricket, after all With economic growth averaging 6 percent over the last two decades, South Asia has one of the world’s most dynamic economies. India is widely considered as the economic heavyweight in the region, yet one cannot ignore the substantial influence Pakistan and Bangladesh increasingly exert over South Asia.
Interestingly enough, despite being former colonies of the British Empire and now all member states of the Commonwealth, the South Asian nations have failed to reap the full benefits by developing strong commercial relations with each other. Indeed, South Asia is one of the least economically integrated regions in the world. According to the World Bank, the total trade among the nations of the South Asian region is less than 5 percent of their trade with the rest of the world. One might attribute the lack of intraregional trade to high transport costs, protectionist policies and political tensions. With trade barriers and the deep-seated enmity between the nations in place, it naturally leads investors and entrepreneurs to explore economic opportunities elsewhere.
One such hotspot is, obviously, the United States of America. The U.S. is the Land of Dreams and Opportunities and embraces many High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs), of which India and Pakistan have a strong supply. India has one of the largest populations of HNWIs in the world, boasting a total number of 218,600, with an estimated 2% of the Top of the Pyramid leaving the country per year, making it also one of the highest net outflows of HNWIs in the world. Pakistan, on the other hand, is among the top three countries with the highest number of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) [more than $30 million in net assets] applying for second citizenship.
The EB-5 program
EB-5 Visa Numbers
In FY 2017, Indian nationals represented 1.7% of the total number of EB-5 visas issued, with 174 EB-5 visas issued – the 6th largest source of EB-5 investors
Pakistani nationals represented just 0.2% of the total with 21 EB-5 visas issued
Bangladesh is outside the Top 20 with a negligible impact in the EB-5 sector
India: $250,000 per fiscal year
Pakistan: No limit on funds transfer through foreign currency accounts to and from Pakistan on an individual. State Bank of Pakistan has suggested changes to the law (Protection of Economic Reforms Act) [PERA], but nothing as of yet
India is backlogged for EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3, soon for EB-5
No such backlog for natives of Pakistan and Bangladesh
None of the three qualify for the Diversity Visa lottery.
Bangladesh & Pakistan only. E-1 Pakistan only
Bilateral Taxation Treaties
All three countries have bilateral taxation treaties with the United States for the avoidance of double taxation
How long the visa can be used:
E-2: Valid only for 3 months, with two entries
L-1: Multiple entries, 12-month validity
L-1: Multiple entries, 60-month validity
E-2: Multiple entries, 60-month validity
L-1: Multiple entries, 60-month validity
Foreign Direct Investment
India continues to be an attractive destination for FDI and is the 20th largest destination for inward FDI by total stock. FDI into India has nearly doubled over the past decade – representing almost 2% of GDP.
Pakistan is much further down the list at number 61 worldwide. The US is one of the largest sources of FDI for Pakistan, as is China – through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, with numerous infrastructure and power projects currently in development. FDI in Pakistan fell by 71% between 2016 and 2017, with many concerned with inconsistent tax policies, an increased cost of doing business and worrying macroeconomic indicators.
Bangladesh stands at 91st place, but it received an all-time high of 2 billion USD in FDI in 2016.
Ease of Doing Business
Bangladesh ranks one of the lowest in the world, and the lowest in South Asia: 177/190
- In particular, the country is second to last for contract enforcement. Bangladesh is ranked 159/190 for Getting Credit and 173/190 for Trading Across Borders
Pakistan ranks 147/190 in the world
- 105/190 for Getting Credit
- 171/190 for Trading Across Borders
- Notably better for Resolving Insolvency (82/190) and Protecting Minority Investors (20/190)
India ranks 100/190 in the world – around the middle of the pack
- 29/190 for Getting Credit
- 146/190 for Trading Across Borders
- 4/190 for Protecting Minority Investors
 New World Wealth
About the Author:
Mona Shah, Esq.
UK born, Mona, a dual licensed attorney, was formerly a Government Prosecutor with the British Crown Prosecution Service. Mona has extensive knowledge of all facets of U.S. immigration law; her expertise ranges from specialist business law to complicated, multi-issue federal deportation litigation before the US Courts of Appeal. Recognized as an industry leader in EB-5, Mona has received many accolades for her work, including voted top 25 EB-5 attorneys in the US 4 years in a row; Top Lawyer by Who’s Who International, ‘Top Attorney of North America’.
Mona, an adjunct professor at Baruch College, CUNY University, has authored numerous articles, a published book for investors, co-edited EB-5 Gateway (BLS) and is a recommended author with Lexis Practice Advisor. Mona is regularly invited to speak worldwide, has been interviewed by mainstream news channels, including Fox Business News, Al Jazeera and quoted in major newspapers, including the New York Times. Mona also hosts the first podcast series on EB-5, with over 55 podcast episodes.
Rebecca S. Singh, Esq. is an experienced attorney with Mona Shah & Associates.
As an advanced EB-5 practitioner, Rebecca works with project developers, analyzing, crafting and preparing project documents for initial regional center designation, as well as actual project or amendment filings. In addition, Rebecca handles direct EB-5 project petitions, both pooled investments and individual entrepreneurs, and I-829 petitions. Rebecca is well versed in USCIS compliance.
Rebecca is highly proficient at investor petitions, counseling clients through all stages of the EB-5 program. She has successfully filed complex source of funds issues from clients worldwide.
In addition, Rebecca handles the firms EOIR and Appellate issues, as well as employment visas such as H1-Bs, intracompany transferees (L visas), and treaty traders/investors (E visas).
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