Every year, businesses across the country avail themselves of the congressionally mandated H1-B visa program to employ workers from other countries. A large majority of these people are graduates of U.S. universities who possess the skills that are highly valued to U.S. companies, and, sponsored by their employers, many visa holders choose the path toward permanent residency and then citizenship.
That process, however, could take many years, says Michael Solari, founder of Solari Financial Planning, particularly for people born in countries like India, China and the Philippines, where quotas get filled up quickly and there is a serious processing backlog. But for these people and many other H1-B visa holders, planning for their financial futures as U.S. citizens is a top priority and one they are keen to work toward with a trusted financial advisor.
Solari works with a number of clients on H1-B visas who have come to him by word-of-mouth referrals, he says, and in working with them, he’s realized that there are not many financial planners who work in their space. But given that the H1-B visa quota fills up very quickly every year (this year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the quota for allotted H1-B visas for fiscal year 2017 was reached on April 6), advisors may want to consider this client niche.
“A lot of advisors have a certain, fixed model that people have to fit into, but you have to be flexible and realize that you have to work with different kinds of people in different kinds of situations and create a service model for them,” Solari says.
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Solari believes the greatest draw his practice offers to people on H1-B visas is that it is a fee-only business and has been that way since he launched his firm in 2013.
“When you hire an advisor you want to be able to alleviate the stress of planning your finances alone and you also want to know you can build a trusted relationship with someone who will be completely objective,” he says.
The fee-only model enables this kind of trusted relationship to take root and it’s particularly important to holders of work visas who, though they may be well on the road toward permanent residency, are never quite sure they will become residents until the day they actually get their green card approval notice.