Patricia Moore has always had an international view of the business world. An economist by trade, she spent years as a Colombian diplomat, representing her country in Norway and Iceland. She and her husband, Ricardo, launched Dallas-based consulting firm Sentrum International and became citizens in 2006. Sentrum helps prospective investors from Latin America obtain U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) admissibility criteria and apply for EB-5 visas — the documentation that enables them to establish businesses in the United States. “It’s one of the most important programs that the U.S. has to offer in immigration,” Moore says. “We receive people that are professionals, educated, competitive. Engineers, architects, people who have fresh ideas about problem solving.”
We receive people that are professionals, educated, competitive. Engineers, architects, people who have fresh ideas about problem solving.
Moore says that most of the people she helps to obtain EB-5 visas come to America to give their children better lives. “I ask them, ‘What led you to this decision?’ ” she says. “And of course, they say: ‘We see so many opportunities for our kids here.’ Especially the younger parents, they’re doing this for their children.” But by investing in their children, these parents are also strengthening U.S. relations abroad. Immigrants on investor visas are “high net-worth individuals with powerful connections abroad,” Moore says. “We’re not just bringing our own economic resources to America, it’s capital resources tied to our original countries that can lead to additional foreign investment in the United States. It’s a network, and it’s just multiplying all the time.”
For that reason, Moore believes the United States should be wary of closing its doors to immigrants. “America has become the most important country in the world because it has historically opened its doors to the striving entrepreneurs, persons with extraordinary abilities and international recognition of outstanding achievement,” she says, stressing that the system itself needs to be more efficient. “As immigrants, we want to do everything right and follow the law. We don’t mind high standards qualifications. What we don’t want is uncertainty, unclear rules.”
She continues: “The U.S. Congress’ indecision on the details of a renewed EB-5 program has resulted in short-term extensions of the current program. Processing times are dramatically increasing and USCIS is taking about 18 months in petition approvals, which will hurt job creation. We need a more efficient system to remain competitive.”