Since 2008, EB5 Capital’s team has had the privilege to frequently interact with a diverse and accomplished set of investors from 65 countries who have all decided to make the United States their new home. Every so often, through our Investor Spotlight series, we enjoy taking the opportunity to feature some of our past clients and share their immigration experience with you. Each of these investors has graciously allowed us to share their story.
Our team met with Alicia and Sky, a young and charming couple from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, who invested in our 225 North Calvert luxury apartments in Baltimore, Maryland. Alicia, Sky, and their child, Kayden, recently moved to San Diego, California, where the climate is mild year-round. Alicia is currently operating a franchise art studio for children called Global Art, while her husband Sky is working as a mechanical engineer at a reputable gas turbine company. They are truly enjoying their new lifestyle and visit Malaysia once a year.
Like many immigrants, however, their adjustment to the United States has been a steep learning curve, so they offered to connect with families who may be seeking firsthand knowledge about the immigration and investment process. Find below some of the questions we asked them during our recent visit to San Diego:
Global Art now has more than 600 centers in 19 countries, and you successfully opened the first franchise in Southern California. Alicia, how did you get involved with Global Art? What was the process like opening a center?
Prior to our move, I reached out to a friend who owned Global Art in Dublin, California, a suburb in the Bay area. She introduced me to the franchise, and since I’ve always loved art myself, I thought why not? Within the first 12 months of arriving to the US, I registered the company, worked with realtors for the location, learned the local demographics, and underwent all the required training to teach. As a franchise owner, I had to make sure I was equipped with all the necessary information to get my business started and the ball rolling smoothly.
What was your experience as an entrepreneur starting a business in the United States?
The US is one of the most liberal countries for business – if you have a solid business plan, go for it! For our type of business, we need to be very involved in San Diego’s local community as it is relationship-based and we rely on referrals. Since we did not grow up in the area, we exert a lot of time participating in local events, supporting fundraisers, and keeping up with the right marketing channels for our business.
Based on your experience, what are the top five areas investors can focus on to ensure a smooth transition to the United States?
We learned it is important to have enough cash on hand when first arriving. Due to our “insufficient length of stay” in the US from previous years and not having a credit score, we found ourselves often having to put down security deposits for many purchases, such as applying for a credit card, buying a car, or qualifying for a rental property.
We got connected to Facebook groups and a place of worship to start building our community. Finding emotional support was vital to us, especially during the first few months.
Since we had a child, obtaining a firm understanding of the American school system before moving (especially knowing where the good schools were located) was very helpful. We realized that by living in a good school district many other public benefits followed along.
We wish we had researched in greater depth the types of insurances we needed prior to our move, such as housing, automobile, medical, etc. Having a solid health insurance plan as soon as possible is important in case of an emergency.
Finally, we applied for our Social Security Number (SSN) and Driving License/ID quickly upon arrival, which we are happy we did because it took longer than we expected!
How has your son, Kayden, adjusted to the US school system so far? What have you noticed is the biggest difference between schools in San Diego versus Kuala Lumpur?
He loves school here. When we first arrived, we spent a lot of time at museums (which were free!) and the famous San Diego Zoo. His transition was a little easier because he already learned some English through the international pre-school he went to in Kuala Lumpur. Sky and I have noticed the US school system engages parents more, and as parents we play an active role in helping the children learn. The schools also encourage students to read a lot, instill core values, and leadership skills at a young age, and Kayden has many opportunities to express himself.
What are some the main reasons why you decided to immigrate to the United States and how would you summarize the process thus far?
We decided to move to the US for more attractive work opportunities and for Kayden to receive a well-rounded education. We thoroughly enjoyed our previous work trips and other stays in the US, so we decided to take the plunge! No doubt, life as an immigrant is never easy. There are many things to learn, but we are fortunate to have friends and family who helped us navigate through the initial steps we took in 2017.
How did your family decide on San Diego?
We narrowed down our preference to California given the cultural diversity it offers, and of course, it has some of the best weather all year long! The cherry on top was when Sky received a job offer here. We love the temperature, weather, and the picturesque beaches throughout the year.
Through our discussions with other clients, we’ve learned that many families maintain a strong connection to their country of origin and keep in close touch with people back home. How is your family preserving your relationship with Malaysia and how often do you travel back home? Have you taken the opportunity to travel to other countries yet with your new green cards?
We are very fortunate to live in an era where communication is made easy through our smartphones. Although we miss out on celebrating major holidays with our family, we always plan an annual trip back home, especially during the summer breaks. Since we’ve been green card holders, we have easily traveled to Germany, China, and Japan.
If people wanted to inquire more about Global Art, where do they go to learn more?
They can always find out more from our US website: http://us.globalart.world/ or contact us via email at email@example.com.
If you would like to connect with Sky and Alicia to discuss their journey, or if you are one of our past investors and you’re interested in signing up for our Investor Spotlight Series, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.