Moving to Dubai to Help Others Move West


A chat with a U.S. licensed lawyer on Investment Migration to the United States

Two passions drive Shai Zamanian: immigration and real estate. In 2012 Zamanian moved to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, to follow these passions. He had a vision of using the EB-5 immigrant investor program to bridge a gap between the U.S. and GCC region. As a U.S. licensed lawyer and U.S. immigrant, he understood the importance of obtaining credible assistance when embarking on the immigration journey for foreign nationals. To him, the EB-5 immigrant investor program provided an investment opportunity with ample benefits for foreign nationals and their dependents. He says, “You’re not buying property or considering where to take a vacation, the decision to relocate your children to the U.S. is a difficult one, but the rewards will be paid for many generations to come.”

  • Read more: Moving Money to Dubai

    At first glance, Dubai seemed like a ideal place to launch his services but he soon came to find out that it would take some time before UAE residents fully trusted his services. Notwithstanding his highest qualification as a U.S. attorney, UAE residents wanted to see whether he and his services would remain in the country or if his tales and promises of a new life in America were another fly-by-night promise.

    After years of successfully assisting families relocate to the U.S., Shai is now known as the pre-eminent voice of U.S. investment immigration services in the GCC. In his 7 years of operation, he has filed more applications than any other firm within the GCC. Under the EB-5 program an investor will gain U.S. residency and green card within months through their investment of $900,000. He has successfully dealt with the most difficult immigration issues such as President Trump’s ‘muslim ban’, the increase in required capital investment, and the current temporary immigration ban. These obstacles would have deterred most EB-5 specialists from continuing to offer this service, however he has stayed true to his commitment to assisting foreign nationals obtain their U.S. residency and green card.

    Shai is the Managing Director of The American Legal Center. A legal consultancy firm situated in Downtown Dubai specializing in the EB-5 immigrant investor visa. He is surrounded by a team of U.S. licensed lawyers who all share the same passion of providing quality, transparent and credible immigration services. The firm has currently expanded their service offerings to include the E-2 Treaty visa for foreign nationals who wish to invest into the U.S. via their own business or an existing business.

    In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we took some time to interview to better find out about Shai’s services, investment immigration to the U.S., and The American Legal Center in Dubai.

Q: What do you guys do?

A: Our firm specializes in the U.S. EB-5 immigration investment program, an initiative that enables foreigners to obtain citizenship for themselves and their family by investing directly into the U.S. economy.

Q: How soon can I get my funds back?

A: Expect to remain in the project for at least 4.5 years in order to honor the ‘lock-in’ period of the government program as outlined in the guidelines. After this period, you would be eligible to obtain your investment back.

Q: How long is the process from ‘start to finish?’ How soon will I have my Green Card?

A: Generally around 14-18 months to obtain your Green Cards for yourselves and your family. However the pandemic has temporarily slowed down the process as government offices have not been working at full capacity. Nevertheless, you can expect about a year and half wait times. If you are in a serious rush, we do have programs that would gain you U.S. residency within 90 days. Yet, most clients wait about the year and half for the full approval.  

Q: How much is the investment?

A: $900,000 USD. A creation of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. persons is also required. You would choose a government pre-approved project that would host your funds and create the 10 jobs on your behalf. 

Q: Who can be included in the program?

A: Spouse and children under the age of 21.

Q: What are the benefits of permanent residency?

A: All the benefits of a U.S. person, except voting and government position privileges

o   Eligibility for citizenship and passport

o   Live and work anywhere

o   Study at resident cost

o   Start a business anywhere in the U.S.

Q: What was your motivation in practicing immigration?

Immigration has always been a hallmark of my upbringing. My parents were the first to migrate to the West where we began acclimating to Western life. Shortly after, my parents helped my 7 aunts and their families migrate to the West. My home was constantly a place of new found settlement. Now, the process of helping families make their way westward is like second nature to me – it feels like it’s exactly what I should be doing.

Q: Tell us about your move to Dubai?

Although I had never visited, and had no familiarity – I had a simple vision in mind. To help families migrate to the U.S. for the benefit of their kids. I thought to myself, I can try my best to attempt at this business. If it doesn’t work out, I could always go back to California and think of another concept to work and help. Thankfully, I’ve been here since 2013 and have since been pleased to watch my practice grow and had the pleasure in seeing many families make it to the U.S., enroll their kids into schools, and pave a new chapter in their lives.

Q: Why did you move to Dubai to start your business and not some other part of the world?

I performed case studies to see where my business would best suit. Ultimately, I concluded that Dubai is a marvelous place for expats to grow and make a great living. However, as many of us are expats, we cannot stay in Dubai forever. At some point, we would need to move on and migrate again.

I wanted to, and have been, instrumental in educating Gulf residents about their options in investment migration to the United States. I really enjoy working with UAE expat residents specifically because they have already gone through the migration process at least once in their lives, and I find that they are open and make courageous decisions for the future betterment of their families.


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