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EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE

Top 25 Attorneys 2017: Top 25 Immigration Attorneys

By EB5 Investors Magazine Staff

EB5 Investors Magazine is pleased to announce the Top 25 Immigration Attorneys, selected in an industry-wide vote. To be eligible, immigration attorneys needed to primarily file investor petitions.

For more information, or to contact any of these attorneys, we invite you to view their listings at www.EB5Investors.com/directories.

Edward Beshara

Managing Partner

Beshara PA Global Law Firm

Edward Beshara is managing partner of Beshara Global Migration Law Firm in Orlando, Florida. He has been exclusively practicing U.S. business immigration law and offering approvable solutions since 1983. Beshara represents corporate clients, foreign-based and EB-5 regional center projects, and foreign nationals in regard to their U.S. immigration and EB-5 goals, including preparation of I-526 petitions. Beshara is an active member of AILA and achieved AILA’s highest award for Outstanding Contributions. He serves on AILA’s Global Migration Section Steering Committee and EB-5 Conference Committee. He is also an active member of IIUSA’s Best Practices Committee and New Investor Markets Committee, and the Investment Migration Council’s Advisory Committee based in Geneva, Switzerland. Beshara is an adjunct professor of business immigration law at the University of Florida Levin Law School.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 looks like?

The residency by investment laws are here to stay. The EB-5 program, whether through a direct or regional center investment, offers an effective way for foreign investors to obtain U.S. residency while creating U.S. jobs. The program also allows U.S. businesses to obtain financing for their projects. To compete globally with other countries’ migration programs, adjudication for the U.S. EB-5 immigration process needs to be substantially quicker, consistent and transparent, which will allow predictability for all parties concerned. The EB-5 program can be the most popular program globally if we introduce competitive products within the program.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

For 35 years, I have been helping foreign investors obtain E-2 and L-1 visas so that they may direct their U.S. businesses. The cost of running these businesses is substantial and includes business overhead, operating costs and payroll. The EB-5 regional center program in comparison may not be as costly. The EB-5 investor does not have to worry about directing their own business but can rely on a credible and viable U.S. business managed by others. I began representing EB-5 investors 27 years ago, which was a natural, compatible progression for providing options to clients contemplating E-2 or L-1 visas.

Mark I. Davies

Founder & Chairman

Davies & Associates LLC

Mark I. Davies is the founder and chairman of Davies & Associates LLC . The company serves its clients from key locations in North America, Australia, Asia, Europe and South America. Davies’ experience as a General Counsel coupled with acting for investment banks and major financial institutions in distressed real estate finance transactions has served him well in his EB-5 practice. He received his J.D from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he is a fellow. Davies also holds a UK law degree and is a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. Recognized by the Bush White House for his services to the legal industry, he was appointed as legal advisor to foreign governments on policy issues. Davies was also formerly Chairman of the Board of Directors of Lawyers Without Borders. He speaks and advises on the EB-5 program and other legal matters worldwide. Davis’ clients include financial institutions, governments, corporations and high net worth individuals. Q&A

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

As citizenship and residency by investment gain traction globally, much commentary surrounds how the EB-5 program is cheap compared to other countries’ programs. One consideration is that EB-5 requires an “at risk” investment, while many countries’ with more expensive programs offer lower-risk options, such as bank deposits and direct real estate acquisitions. We may now see increased investment requirements for the EB-5 program. While our company have lawyers specializing in different programs all over the world, analyzing the competitive effect of such a move compared to other programs is not easy. Several of our clients state that an increased EB-5 investment requirement will drive them to explore lower-risk, not necessarily cheaper, options with other countries.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

With one of the world’s largest populations of millionaires, India has recently become a hot destination for the EB-5 program and we see a lot of activity in that market. Compared to 5 years ago, tier two and three cities in India are seeing more interest in EB-5. The question for the future is how much of a chilling effect a meaningful increase in the EB-5 investment requirement will have in India. Direct EB-5 investments from India may not slow as quickly if investment requirements increase. Our firm is seeing a significant increase in the number of direct EB-5 cases filed.

Robert C. Divine

Chair, Immigration Group

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C.

Robert C. Divine is chair of the Immigration Group at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz P.C., a law firm of 800 lawyers and public policy advisors with offices in 24 U.S. cities including Washington, D.C. Divine served as chief counsel of USCIS from 2004 until 2006 and for a time as acting director. He is the author of Immigration Practice, a 1,600-page practical treatise on all aspects of U.S. immigration law that is revised and reprinted annually to reflect the law’s constant changes. Divine has practiced immigration law since 1986 and has served as chair of various committees of AILA and served for seven years as vice president of IIUSA. He represents large and small international and domestic employers, family sponsors, developers, investment regional centers and individual foreign nationals. Divine has also litigated significant immigration-related civil and criminal matters.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

Misuse of EB-5 capital by regional centers and developers who paid huge agent commissions – sometimes using EB-5 capital itself – is concerning and should fuel questions about conflicts of interest. Long waits for visa numbers, combined with USCIS new redeployment policy, are incentivizing developers to seek EB-5 capital for unfettered use of EB-5 capital for successive projects, and investors should seek clarity about redeployment parameters and advisor arrangements before investing. Moreover, USCIS needs to clarify its parameters for redeployment.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

I have been an immigration lawyer for 30 years. While at USCIS, I supported Bill Yates' efforts to revive a dormant EB-5 program. When I returned from government service in 2007, I saw that the growing industry needed help to advocate for better USCIS policy development. I enjoy trying to help bridge that gap. I enjoy strategizing projects with innovative, determined developers and centers, and helping individual investors document sources of funds and navigate their paths toward U.S. residence. I also work with developers, receivers and affected investors in troubled situations, which I find challenging.

Chad R. Ellsworth

Partner

Fragomen Worldwide

Chad R. Ellsworth is a partner at Fragomen Worldwide and has been with the firm for 15 years. His practice focuses on representing individual and business clients on a wide variety of corporate immigration, private client and related employment matters. Ellsworth advises many high net worth individuals in their immigration related investments. As investors from Asia are the largest users of global investor migration programs, including the U.S. EB-5 investor visa, he regularly liaises with Asian private clients to address their global entrepreneurial or investor citizenship or residency immigration needs. He also advises human resource personnel, legal department, managers, executives and professionals and multinational corporations on a variety of global immigration matters with an emphasis on the establishment and improvement of immigration compliant global mobility programs including jurisdictions with less formalized immigration processes and procedures.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

Immigrant visa retrogression has had a chilling effect on the Chinese EB-5 market and may eventually have a similar impact on the Vietnamese market given the popularity of the program. As such, many regional centers are now diversifying their investor markets. I have seen a significant increase in EB-5 usage from non-traditional markets such as India and Africa. Given the global trend towards restrictive immigration policies, including popular destinations such as Australia and the United Kingdom, the EB-5 program is an increasingly attractive option for entrepreneurs and investors from non-traditional markets such as India and Africa.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

Fragomen has been one of the leaders in the EB-5 industry since the program’s inception in the 1990’s. My direct interest in the program occurred through representing global financial services institutions who frequently have private clients in need of entrepreneurial or investor citizenship or residency solutions, including EB-5. I frequently work with entrepreneurs, investors and their advisors to understand the client's particular circumstances and what they aim to achieve to advise on the solutions most relevant to them. EB-5 is frequently the top choice for entrepreneurs and investors given the dynamism of the U.S. economy and the other significant opportunities afforded by U.S. permanent residency.

Jennifer Hermansky

Shareholder

Greenberg-Traurig LLP

Jennifer Hermansky is a shareholder at the Philadelphia office of Greenberg Traurig LLP and is part of the firm’s EB-5 team. She first began working on EB-5 investor cases in 2009 and then added regional center matters to her repertoire. Hermansky has since then been involved in more than 100 regional center projects and has handled thousands of investor petitions. She has devoted her entire practice to EB-5 because she is truly passionate about it, allowing her to build a thorough understanding of the process. With a degree in finance and a background handling entrepreneurial cases for clients seeking E-2 or L-1 visas, Hermansky is intimately familiar with the business immigration process and applies this knowledge to her EB-5 cases. Leveraging her knowledge base, she helps investors from the moment they decide to file until they become U.S. citizens, and counseling regional centers on issues of management, staffing and compliance.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

I believe this year will be a game-changer for the EB-5 program. It is likely we will see an increased investment amount for the first time in the program’s history. I also think we will see changes to how TEA determinations are made and by which agencies. It also is likely that we will finally see some much needed and anticipated integrity measures put into place.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

USCIS is becoming more stringent on their cases under the new administration. They are very carefully reviewing the I-526 petitions for source of funds of the investors. It is very important for stakeholders to keep abreast of these trends and make sure investors are working with qualified attorneys. Beyond adjudications, we are seeing the development of new and emerging markets for EB-5 investors grow significantly, especially in countries like Vietnam, India, South Korea, UAE, Brazil and Venezuela.

David Hirson

Managing Partner

David Hirson & Partners, LLP

David Hirson is the managing partner of David Hirson & Partners, LLP. He has been certified continuously as a Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization since 1990, and he has worked on EB-5 cases since the program was established. In 1991, Hirson personally prepared and filed one of the very first EB-5 cases with the INS (now USCIS), and he filed many of the EB-5 cases that were approved throughout the first 10 years of the EB-5 visa program. He is very active in the immigration law community. His memberships include the immigration law sections of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the Orange County Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific, AILA, and the Public Policy Committee of IIUSA.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

Once current uncertainties pass, the EB-5 industry’s future is bright. Excluding mainland Chinese investors, EB-5 investment will continue and the number of investors will continue to grow. A reasonable increase in the investment amount is unlikely to deter many Chinese investors. However, visa delays and the unavailability of visa numbers is a significant deterrent for mainland Chinese investors. Discussions on future visa availability generally indicate a 10-year delay; this is the true problem. Proposed changes to the EB-5 program assign one visa number to the principal investor and qualified dependents. An effort is also underway to recapture and reallocate visas retroactively. If achieved, Chinese nationals will have virtually no wait for visas.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry? What changes would you like to see?

Countries like India are easing foreign currency exchange requirements, while other countries tighten controls, like China. Financial institutions and wealth management companies are moving to embrace the EB-5 program and to introduce their customers to select EB-5 projects. Minimum investment amounts will likely be increased, perhaps substantially. USCIS and U.S. Consuls under the Trump administration will more closely scrutinize applications and individual applicants. The investment funds once paid to the NCE will probably require detailed explanations and accounting in order to meet the proposed reporting and transparency laws. Lastly, USCIS may take back its right currently given to states to determine TEAs. Special designated areas and rural areas might get a specific allocation out of the 10,000 EB-5 visas.

Kate Kalmykov

Shareholder

Greenberg Traurig LLP

Kate Kalmykov is an EB-5 immigration attorney and shareholder in the New York City area offices of international law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP. She is an active member in the immigration law community and has been working on EB-5 cases for a decade. Kalmykov recognized the opportunity that the EB-5 program offered to immigrants who did not have the option of obtaining a visa through family or employment connections, while simultaneously contributing to the growth of the U.S. economy through job creation. These factors prompted her involvement in the EB-5 program and serve as continued motivators. As part of Greenberg Traurig’s EB-5 team, Kalmykov represents both immigrant investors and regional center clients. She is adept at navigating her clients through a process where the rules are constantly changing based on government adjudication trends. Her experience runs the gamut of EB-5-related applications and takes her all over the world.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like to see?

I think that there will be greater scrutiny in the EB-5 program over use of investment funds. There will be greater compliance and reporting requirements and this in fact will be a positive thing for the industry as it will give investors greater confidence in the program and address many concerns raised in oversight hearings and reports. I think that we will also see a more diversified use of the program by nationals from around the world instead of being used primarily by Asian applicants.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

I find EB-5 to be a fascinating field that has experienced exponential growth and am rewarded by helping investors fulfill their dreams. As an immigrant myself, I can personally relate to my clients, and I also find a certain satisfaction in seeing projects develop from the ground up. I understand investor concerns and motivations for seeking immigration through investment and that insight fuels my unique approach to investor filings.

Rohit Kapuria

Attorney at Law

Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Rohit Kapuria is an attorney at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP. He regularly represents EB-5 lenders, borrowers, banks, regional centers, real estate developers and migration brokers. Uniquely, Kapuria’s legal practice is a dual hybrid of corporate securities and EB-5 immigration. He has worked on over 350 EB-5 transactions, with a combined capital development cost in excess of $6 billion. Over the last 5 years, he has actively worked to develop the Indian and Gulf countries’ EB-5 markets, frequently traveling and making presentations to audiences in those regions, and he now represents a sizeable portion of the Indian EB-5 market. Kapuria is fluent in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Hausa. Prior to entering the legal profession, he worked as an economist and fund manager where he, with a team of analysts, created and analyzed predictive fund models for a NGO’s portfolio.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

There has and will continue to be some level of consolidation in the marketplace following a steady explosion of interest in EB-5 over the past few years. Compliance and integrity are two key issues that are increasingly getting airtime and require practical solutions to reform some of the problems we are witnessing. I have worked to develop several compliance services, a principal component of which is EB-5 loan compliance. There is an inherent need to ensure that the EB-5 loans are properly underwritten and the terms of the loan agreements comply with the original intent disclosed to EB-5 investors.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

It was actually by happenstance. I was directed to a meeting with Ron Klasko a few years back. Because I have a graduate degree in mathematical economics, Klasko engaged me in a number of questions on RIMS II and IMPLAN. Until that point, I was not aware of the inherent importance the economic impact analysis plays within the regional center structure. This crossover between transactional law, immigration law and economics had me hooked and so began my journey in the EB-5 world. I owe my growth and knowledge in this space to Klasko and Ronnie Fieldstone.

Parisa Karaahmet

Partner

Fragomen Worldwide

Parisa Karaahmet is a partner at Fragomen Worldwide and specializes in corporate, individual and complex immigration matters. Her areas of specialty include advising clients with respect to the EB-5 investor visa and other entrepreneurial visa options, criminal and inadmissibility grounds, employer sanctions and I-9 compliance. Karaahmet leads a team that specializes in EB-5 immigrant investor and entrepreneurial visas, and is a member of the firm’s Worldwide Investor Group. She has served as a member of IIUSA’s Editorial Committee and writes and presents extensively on EB-5 related issues. Prior to joining Fragomen, Karaahmet served as an assistant district counsel and acting deputy district counsel for the Immigration & Naturalization Service, New York District.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

I would like to see greater consistency and efficiency in EB-5 adjudications overall, and faster review of 526 and 829 petitions. It is important not to lose sight of the value that this program offers in terms of economic development. In order to remain competitive with other global investment programs, investors need to see the light at the end of the tunnel and faster processing times are necessary in this regard. It would also be ideal to see concurrent filing of 526 petitions and adjustment of status applications, as well as priority date retention and age-out protections for investors and their family members.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

The trend seems to be toward a much more diversified investment pool, and I think we have already seen a shift in EB-5 interest into investor markets outside of China. In addition, the EB-5 industry overall has become more compliant and self-regulating.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

EB-5 is a dynamic and challenging field and provides a different perspective in terms of representing high net worth individuals in the business immigration context. Our lawyers enjoy working on EB-5 matters and interacting with the players in the industry. Overall, it is an exciting time to work in this area.

H. Ronald Klasko

Founding Member

Klasko Immigration Law Partners LLP

H. Ronald Klasko is the founding member at Klasko Immigration Law Partners LLP. His 25-member EB-5 team has represented thousands of investors, over 50 regional centers and numerous U.S. developers in using the EB-5 program to raise capital. Klasko has served five terms as chair of AILA’s EB-5 Committee and as a former national president and general counsel of AILA. As chair of the Best Practices Committee of IIUSA, he worked to develop a comprehensive list of EB-5 best practices. Klasko was named the world’s most respected corporate immigration lawyer by the International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers. He is one of three practicing attorneys honored with the AILA Founders Award for contributions to immigration. He has been included in Best Lawyers in America for over two decades. He was invited by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary to testify on immigration reform and by USCIS and the Department of State to engage in training officers.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

The EB-5 industry is changing. With the significant diminished demand from China, EB-5 capital raises will be smaller and the time to raise the capital will be longer. Developing investor sources in other countries will be critical. Redeployment of EB-5 money will create unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Legislation or litigation to increase the authorized number of investors, as well as legislative reforms to increase transparency and investor protections, are important to the long-term viability of the EB-5 program. In addition, USCIS processing times must be reduced to a level that is compatible with the needs of the stakeholders.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

I gravitated to EB-5 because of the challenge to shape a new immigration program and because EB-5 is a win-win program. My first involvement was in 1991 when I traveled to Asia to present direct investment opportunities to institutions that represented Asian investors. I left EB-5 for several years when the program lost its way, but I have been actively involved for the last decade. The program is a rare example of a government program that serves the purposes of attracting foreign investment, creating jobs and allowing development projects that lacked affordable capital to move forward.

Nima Korpivaara

Partner

David Hirson & Partners LLP

Nima Korpivaara is a partner at David Hirson & Partners LLP. Since he joined the practice in 2014, he handles a variety of U.S. immigration issues, including complex matters associated with corporate business structure and EB-5 investor applications. Korpivaara practices in the fields of corporate; investor, including E-2 and EB-5; and family immigration law, representing large and small clients within a variety of industries. This includes temporary and short-term work visas, business visas and permanent residence, including employment-based and family-based visas, and naturalization. Korpivaara has successfully represented thousands of investors in receiving EB-5 green card approval, as well as dozens of regional centers in successfully receiving designation from USCIS.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

I believe the future of the EB-5 industry is strong. While the program was established in the early 1990’s, the program has really only become global in the last 10 years. As with any new program, there have been bumps in the road, but investor knowledge and project adaptation to the market place has been rapid. If USCIS complies with promulgated regulations on current program issues, the EB-5 program will continue to grow.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

Market trends seem to be a direct result of USCIS adjudicative standards. As we see USCIS become more diligent in denying projects that are not “shovel-ready,” we are seeing a rise in projects that are fully-financed, and under construction prior to ever accepting an EB-5 investor. These projects are highly sought after by investors, as job creation is either ongoing or complete at the time of investment. This eases the investors concern on whether or not the project will create the necessary jobs to secure the green card. While this is a positive for investors, the adjudication standards are in direct contrast to the congressional intent of the program.

Carolyn Lee

Managing Partner

Miller Mayer

Carolyn Lee is the managing partner of Miller Mayer’s EB-5 practice group. She is chair of AILA’s national EB-5 Committee. Lee’s current advocacy focuses on long-term reauthorization of the EB-5 regional center program and workable reform. Lee represents regional centers, developers, funds and investors. She has written numerous in-depth publications on “material change,” the “at risk” requirement and TEAs. Lee lectures widely on EB-5 issues and is recipient of numerous awards for excellence including the 2016 Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business, the 2015 AILA Presidential Commendation and the 2008 AILA Joseph Minsky Award. She is listed on International Who’s Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America in Immigration Law.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

The future of the EB-5 industry is bright. Lawmakers and industry alike embrace reform that will allow the program to grow stronger. Conferring U.S. lawful permanent residence is a precious benefit. Operators and advisors with the highest standards of integrity should be in this space and the hope is that reform will bring us closer to that ideal. It will be the responsibility of all, equally – Congress, USCIS, regional centers, fund managers, developers and all the advisors – to achieve the great things possible through this program. A key part of that is increasing EB-5 visa capacity.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

In terms of USCIS adjudication, I am seeing harsher adjudication. I use the word “harsher” rather than “tougher” because the legal basis for a lot of the RFEs and NOIDs I’m seeing is thin. Yet, there seems to be a desire to get to a “no.” In terms of investor demand, Chinese investor demand is of course down to a slow trickle. On the other hand, interest in the India and South America markets have spiked commensurately. In terms of projects, careful structuring particularly on bridge financing, is really critical to survive the harsher adjudication climate.

Daniel B. Lundy

Partner

Klasko Immigration Law Partners LLP

Daniel B. Lundy is a partner with Klasko Immigration Law Partners LLP, and heads the firm’s EB-5 Developer/Regional Center and EB-5 Compliance practices. Lundy represents numerous developers and regional centers who seek to raise money through the EB-5 program. He works with various securities lawyers, economists, business plan writers and others to structure deals to be EB-5 compliant. Lundy represents many clients in troubled EB-5 projects, including various matters involving SEC complaints and allegations of fraud or misappropriation, where he helps to preserve the immigration interests of the investors throughout the restructuring of those projects. Lundy has extensive experience litigating immigration cases in the federal courts and is frequently retained to help with RFEs, NOIDs, and appeals of USCIS denials. He received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

As the Chinese market cools, the flow of new EB-5 projects is slowing somewhat. However, the number of troubled projects continues to grow, both in terms of cases of fraud and cases where projects have been completed but struggled economically or have had challenges in reaching completion. These projects often need to be restructured in a way that preserves the investors’ ability to immigrate under the EB-5 program. USCIS policy continues to evolve, often without warning. The overall level of complexity in EB-5 is rising, and we have been continuously developing new and creative strategies to deal with it.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

I was attracted to the EB-5 field because it is a very small niche within the immigration field, and one that involves a substantial level of complexity and a corresponding opportunity for creative lawyering that really has the ability to help clients achieve their goals. The business side of EB-5 is constantly evolving, and, as a result, so is the practice of law in this field.

Brandon Meyer

Managing Partner

Fakhoury Global Immigration

Brandon Meyer is the managing partner of the San Francisco office for Fakhoury Global Immigration. He is a member of the Bars of the State of Connecticut and the District of Columbia. Meyer is also a member of AILA, the Academy of Political Science, the British American Business Council, the Bay Area Mobility Managers and IIUSA, among other professional organizations. He received his J.D. degree from University of San Diego School of Law, his Masters of Arts in East Asian Studies from George Washington University, and his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the American University. He is the author of numerous articles on the intersection of economics and politics with immigration law and policy.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

I hope to see increased visa numbers. How that happens (not counting derivatives against the 10,000 vs. increasing the number above 10,000 vs. recapturing years of unused visa numbers) is irrelevant. The program risks a prolonged slump without addressing the visa numbers issue. While TEA rules need updating, concepts such as visa set-asides for "rural areas," "infrastructure" or inventing new concepts such as "urban distressed" designations are not the way forward. These concepts only increase the complexity of an already complex program and shift the "systemic gaming exercise" currently plaguing TEA designation towards projects angling to fit into these artificial distinctions.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

I expanded my EB-5 involvement out of sheer boredom. While I had worked on a handful of EB-5 matters between 1998-2006, I primarily worked on corporate work visas (H-1B, L-1, PERM). In the days of two successive dotcom booms, most large immigration law firms wanted nothing to do with EB-5. EB-5 was hard. H-1B's were easy then, and for every one EB-5, there were probably 1,000 H-1B's. My timing was fortuitous as EB-5 began its revival around the same time that the corporate market imploded. I was well-placed to leverage these shifting market dynamics.

Irina Rostova

Founding Partner

Rostova Westerman Law Group PA

Irina Rostova is a founding partner at Rostova Westerman Law Group with a background in bank management and commercial litigation. She became an immigration attorney out of her passion for the EB-5 program, believing that for many it presents a more assured way to permanent residency than other business visa options. Rostova understands the financial principals necessary to successfully navigate the program and currently oversees hundreds of in-progress EB-5 petitions, an exposure which allows her to be at the forefront of new adjudication trends in the EB-5 program. Rostova represents investors from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia. She serves as a co-chair of the Investor Markets Committee at IIUSA and is passionate about developing the EB-5 market in Russia and Eastern Europe. Her efforts have made her a principal attorney in that region, currently representing an estimated 20 percent of all Russian EB-5 investors.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

It is important to implement financial regulations to protect investors as well as the integrity and the purpose of the program. Third party audits and financial transparency are a must in order to channel EB-5 investments toward solid projects. Personally, I believe TEA designations are less important than giving a preference to industrial and social infrastructure projects, such as manufacturing facilities, schools, hospitals and others.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

We are beginning to see a diversification in the origin of investors. As the EB-5 program becomes known around the world, the focus is gradually shifting from mainland China to Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. While China will continue to be an important player in EB-5; India, Vietnam and Taiwan are the next big Asian markets. Keep an eye for Turkey, France, Italy and Russia in the European/Eastern European regions. Brazil and Venezuela will dominate in Latin America and Nigeria stands out in Africa. Dubai will continue to be a center for investors from the Middle East.

Mona Shah

Founder & Lead Attorney

Mona Shah & Associates (MSA Global)

Mona Shah is the founder and lead attorney at Mona Shah & Associates (MSA Global). Shah, who was born in the U.K., is a dual licensed attorney and she was formerly a government prosecutor with the British Crown Prosecution Service. Shah also has extensive knowledge of all facets of U.S. immigration law with her expertise ranging from specialist business law to complicated, multi-issue federal deportation litigation before the U.S. Courts of Appeal. Shah has received many accolades for her work, including Top Lawyer by Who’s Who International and Top Attorney of North America. She is an adjunct professor at Baruch College, CUNY University, and has authored numerous articles, published a book for investors and is a recommended author with Lexis Practice Advisor. Shah is a frequent speaker and has been interviewed by well reputable media groups. She also hosts a podcast series and has recorded over 50 episodes with different industry specialists.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

One of the most obvious trends has been the shift in the focus of markets: with a pivot away from China towards countries in Southeast Asia, as well as the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East and North Africa region. There is certainly a heightened awareness of the program and a notable increase in available information, which is a sharp contrast from only a few years ago. I also do believe that as the minimum investment amount increases, there will be an increase in pooled direct and entrepreneur petitions.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

I have practiced immigration law for around 21 years, and my experience includes complex immigration litigation as well as business immigration. I was involved with EB-5 stakeholders long before the program’s surge in popularity, and the EB-5 realm continues to be an exciting, dynamic area of law. It embodies a wide range of specialized knowledge: from business, immigration and securities law to international marketing and country conditions. I possess a good understanding of the core underlying areas and I have a flair for marketing – making EB-5 a natural fit for me.

Darren Silver

Founding Partner

Darren Silver & Associates LLP

Darren Silver is the founding partner of Darren Silver & Associates LLP. Silver’s career of more than 20 years has focused exclusively on the field of immigration with an emphasis in business and investment immigration. Prior to founding his firm, Silver worked with USCIS, where he audited policy guidelines and helped create field guides that are still in use today. Silver has devoted the past 10 years of his practice to EB-5 law. His interest in EB-5 developed during the late 1990’s, when his business clients’ growth led to his initial direct EB-5 filings. His firm is one of the first law firms in the country to handle EB-5 applications, and later regional center submissions. He also has assisted developers and projects to review immigration strategies for their organizations and business enterprises. Silver is a longtime member of AILA and IIUSA.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

I am optimistic about the future of EB-5. Until recently, many regional centers played by their own rules. Investors truly did not understand the process behind the investment. However, over the past two years I have seen positive, dramatic changes in the industry. Government scrutiny combined with self-regulation has elevated project quality. Presently, USCIS is still muddling through a mixed bag of very good and some not-so-good projects. Over time the “not-so-good” will be sorted out and USCIS will recognize signs of project quality and legitimacy. The result will allow for faster adjudications and overall more predictability for investors.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

I fell into the EB-5 world quite on accident. In the mid-1990s, my law practice was heavily involved with investment visas, such as the E-2 visa. A small number of my E-2 clients were looking for green card options. I took it upon myself to learn about the little-known EB-5 category. I realized that some of my E-2 investors were also eligible for the EB-5 program. When the regional center boom began seven years ago, I was fortunate to be one of the few immigration lawyers who had experience in this area.

Lincoln Stone

Partner

Stone Grzegorek & Gonzalez LLP

Lincoln Stone is a partner at Stone Grzegorek & Gonzalez LLP. He has 25 years of experience with the EB-5 program, including specializing in solutions for denials, terminations, complex litigation and business reorganizations. He has successfully helped several thousand EB-5 investors and completed EB-5 compliance work aiding U.S. organizations in raising nearly $5 billion in EB-5 capital for more than 200 different job-creating enterprises. Stone successfully represented some of the first investors in the EB-5 program, and assisted with litigation to help families marooned by program changes in the late 1990s. He also worked closely with immigration officials and drafted key legislation that fueled the renaissance of the regional center program. Stone served for five years as chair of the AILA EB-5 Committee and organized the first nine EB-5 industry conferences. Drawing from broad experience in business transactions and litigation, Stone has published dozens of EB-5 articles covering numerous interdisciplinary topics.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

Early on, the EB-5 program was a three-year process with reasonable adjudication times and abundant visas. The main concern was unpredictability about agency adjudications. Several factors complicated the EB-5 practice, but none so much as agency processing times and visa backlogs. Investors are consequently exposed to more risks than congress ever intended. Whether for redeployment after a successful initial investment, salvaging the immigration case after business failure, a terminated regional center or diversion of funds, USCIS should provide clear, fair policies to protect investors. I hope to see USCIS comprehensively review policy prioritizing EB-5 investors who have shaped their dreams around the EB-5 success.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

I became involved with EB-5 investors in 1991 when I was an associate attorney practicing business and immigration litigation. Most EB-5 clients then were from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. Substantial effort went into shaping EB-5 opportunities to compete with the Canadian investor program, which was dominated by foreign migration agents promoting short-term, low-risk loans. Now, the EB-5 program is a tool for large-scale project finance. Whether the model is venture funding or project finance, new and transformative capital investment should be welcome. However, confusion about policy objectives continues to plague the EB-5 program as stakeholders seek to formulate a winning narrative supporting its permanence.

Christian Triantaphyllis

Attorney

Foster LLP

Christian Triantaphyllis is an attorney and EB-5 section lead with Foster LLP, a full-service immigration law firm headquartered in Houston, Texas. The focus of his practice is on business immigration matters, particularly those related to EB-5 investments. Triantaphyllis represents foreign nationals in the preparation and filing of EB-5 cases and advises on lawful sources of investment funds. He advises businesses on establishing EB-5 projects throughout the United States and provides analysis from an immigration law perspective on funding structures. Triantaphyllis also represents clients to acquire legal status for professional employees, investors under U.S. treaties and other visa options. Triantaphyllis is a member of AILA, has authored a number of articles on the EB-5 program and is a frequent speaker on immigration issues. Triantaphyllis earned his J.D. from New York Law School and received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Southern Methodist University.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

I think the future of the EB-5 program is one that will require an increased focus on oversight and compliance measures for regional centers and project developers. Regardless of the increased investment amount and types of projects that qualify under TEA rules, USCIS will increasingly monitor each regional center’s ability to manage funds responsibly and maintain up to date records for each of its projects. USCIS has already begun to carry out this theme in its adjudication process and I anticipate that new regulations will not only codify what is already in practice, but will also increase compliance measures.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

While there are a number of trends in the EB-5 industry, a specific trend of note is the increased awareness of the EB-5 program both by foreign investors around the world, and by project developers in the United States. I am currently working with foreign investors from more countries than ever before, which demonstrates to me the globalization of the EB-5 program. I am also constantly working with businesses in the United States to develop creative strategies to blend EB-5 funding with private investment opportunities, as EB-5 investors are increasingly interested in both forms of investment.

Cletus M. Weber

Partner

Peng & Weber PLLC

Cletus M. Weber is a partner at Peng & Weber PLLC, a Seattle-based immigration law firm internationally recognized in EB-5 and other U.S. immigration law. He represents EB-5 regional centers, projects and investors in all facets of EB-5. Weber serves on the Board of Directors of IIUSA and previously served on AILA’s national EB-5 Committee. Weber is editor-in-chief of The EB-5 Handbook: A Guide for Investors and Developers (EB5investors.com 2014); senior editor of Immigration Options for Investors & Entrepreneurs, 3d. Ed. (AILA 2014); and invited reviewer of the EB-5 section of Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook, 14th & 15th Eds. (AIC 2014 & 2016). He is also listed in Who’s Who Legal: Corporate Immigration (2016-2018).

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

The EB-5 industry faces painful backlogs for China-born investors, by far the world’s largest market. Inevitable set-asides will create strong, geographically or industrially focused demand for a year or so, followed by a return to backlogs when the set-aside lines become similarly backlogged. Eventually, Congress will return EB-5 to its roots as a powerful tool for creating jobs for U.S. workers by significantly increasing the number of EB-5 visas available. Also critical will be steps congress takes to protect good faith investors who unfortunately find themselves in failed projects.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

EB-5 is complex, multidisciplinary, interesting and challenging. It resides at the intersection of my lifelong interests in law, business, politics, entrepreneurialism, real estate, construction, economics, finance, teamwork, world travel, culture and language. EB-5 is a natural place for me after having earned my way through business school and law school by working in construction and interning at the Securities and Exchange Commission, having previously practiced corporate and real estate law and having taught myself basic Chinese. I love the success stories of investors. I also enjoy the teamwork inherent in project-related work for regional centers and developers.

Jinhee Wilde

Principal and Managing Partner

Wilde & Associates LLC

Jinhee Wilde is the principal and managing partner of Wilde & Associates LLC, a boutique law firm focusing on business and investment immigration. Her 32 years of legal experience began first as a prosecutor for Chicago and then as the Inspector General designee, special counsel and attorney advisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This government experience gives her a government lawyer’s perspective to help her clients, which may explain her track record in both I-526 and I-829 filings with only three RFEs on Source of Fund on numerous cases filed since 2007. Wilde only represents the investor side of EB-5 and is independent from any regional centers. She is on the President’s Advisory Council of IIUSA, active in AILA and is a frequent speaker at EB-5 conferences. Wilde received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago and J.D. from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

Congress’ original intent to create jobs and boost economic growth through EB-5 was a positive result of EB-5 that should be preserved. However, there is a risk congress or USCIS may throw the “baby out with the bath water” without implementing much-needed integrity measures and making minor changes to restore EB-5’s original intent to put resources into the rural and hardship urban areas. If some of the existing, shiny, mega office and hotel buildings in Manhattan and elsewhere were only allowed $1 million EB-5 investment (non-TEA), we may not have had the explosion of EB-5 investors, which has created such a huge backlog in visa availability.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

One alarming trend is the migration agencies pushing to sell the EB-5 projects that pay the highest finders fees and commission while utilizing inexperienced attorneys with the lowest fee to file the investors petition. It is normal for agencies to receive commissions of $120,000 or more for each EB-5 investor they find. Too often, EB-5 investors are not aware of the dynamics between parties and the fees being paid. Investors too often blindly subscribe to a project and use the lawyers given by the agents or the regional centers. In this structure, no one is accountable only to the investor without any conflict.

Bernard Wolfsdorf

Managing Partner

Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP

Bernard Wolfsdorf is the managing partner at Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP, which includes 70 professionals in Los Angeles, New York and Shanghai. He successfully filed his first EB-5 case 25 years ago. With decades of experience, he and the firm have assisted thousands of clients from around the world with visa petitions filings, setting-up regional centers, preparing project documents, handling complex motions, appeals, removal proceedings and litigation. The firm’s vast experience, together with his own personal immigration experience, provide a unique ability to connect with clients. Wolfsdorf is known for his informative blogs, webinars and public speaking on complex aspects of immigration law. Among many accolades, he has been named "Corporate Immigration Lawyer of the Year” since 2010 by Who’s Who Legal. Best Lawyers/U.S. News and World Report also named him 2018 “Immigration Lawyer of the Year” for Los Angeles. Wolfsdorf is past president of AILA, where he received the "Service Excellence Award."

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

The EB-5 program is one of the most effective, beneficial programs for the U.S. economy and job creation. After 25 years, the program needs revitalization. Most important is the need to correct a drafting error to reflect the original Congressional intent that 10,000 investor families, not 3,000 investors and their families should be admitted annually. Good faith investors need a solution when the project fails to create sufficient jobs due to circumstances beyond the investor’s control. Congress should recognize the benefits and provide solutions for thousands of investors who committed capital and must wait years, possibly risking their children aging-out.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

The industry is maturing in that institutional financial and developer entities have entered the field ushering in much needed corporate compliance structures, which provide better protection for investors. Whereas previously most of our clients were Chinese, we now see increased diversification with investors from India, Vietnam, Brazil, Turkey and numerous other countries as the program is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. Project offerings are improving in quality and the interests of the investor are better protected. With these changes, we anticipate that the minimum investment amount will increase substantially providing a window of opportunity for certain investors.

Stephen Yale-Loehr

Attorney of Counsel

Miller Mayer LLP

Stephen Yale-Loehr is an attorney of counsel in Miller Mayer’s Immigration practice group. He brings over 35 years of immigration law experience in advising corporate and individual clients on a broad array of family- and employment-based immigration matters. In addition to his work at Miller Mayer, Yale-Loehr is an active and internationally renowned member of the immigration law community. He teaches immigration and asylum law at Cornell Law School as a professor of Immigration Practice. He also founded and was the original executive director of IIUSA, a trade association of EB-5 immigrant investor regional centers. He is listed in Who’s Who in America and is annually listed in Chambers Global, Chambers USA, and An International Who’s Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers as one of the world’s best immigration lawyers. He is frequently quoted in the press on immigration issues and has often testified before congress.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

The most important reform is to add EB-5 numbers. The current backlog is too long, especially for investors from China. Absent an increase in numbers, the EB-5 program will never achieve its true potential. Second, congress should enact integrity measures to increase transparency and oversight in the EB-5 process. That would give confidence to investors and Americans that the program is being done correctly. Finally, any reforms should be implemented prospectively, to give investors, regional centers, and developers time to adjust to the changes. Congress should not apply any changes retroactively.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

Several trends are emerging in the EB-5 industry. First, investors are getting more sophisticated. They want high quality projects. Second, fewer investors from China are applying for EB-5 green cards because of the long backlogs. Regional centers are trying to find investors in other countries to make up for the slowdown in China, but so far it has not been easy. Third, the USCIS is issuing more requests for evidence (RFEs), which further slows down the process. EB-5 cases that used to be processed without question before are now receiving RFEs.

Catharine Yen

Attorney at Law

Schuchert, Krieger, Truong, Spagnola & Klausner LLP

Catharine Yen manages the immigration department at Schuchert, Krieger, Truong, Spagnola & Klausner LLP. Yen focuses her practice on EB-5 investments and has represented clients from around the world in filing their I-526 petitions. She also provides advice on the preparation of investment offerings suitable for EB-5 funding, assists in the development of I-924 regional center applications, and counsels regional centers and developers on ongoing compliance issues. Yen has spoken at national conferences regarding her EB-5 practice and she has co-authored several articles on various EB-5 topics. With an office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Yen’s current EB-5 practice primarily focuses on the Vietnam market. Yen has also assisted multi-national companies in business immigration matters, such as Hs, Ls, and TNs. Yen was born and raised in Texas before moving to Los Angeles. She is conversant in Mandarin Chinese.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like?

The current administration makes predicting the future of any area of immigration difficult, but I am optimistic that the EB-5 industry will continue to grow in popularity. Indisputable data shows the positive benefits of the EB-5 program: job creation, capital infusion into projects and project development in diverse industry sectors and geographic locations around the United States. Specifically, as there is presently a strong interest in the EB-5 program, I would like to see an increase in available EB-5 visas. I think America should capitalize on this demand since the EB-5 program benefits our U.S. economy as a whole.

What trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

In the EB-5 industry, it appears that the Chinese market has slowed down due to the lengthy visa backlogs. Other countries, such as Vietnam and India, have shown an increasing interest in the EB-5 program. Like Chinese investors, Vietnamese EB-5 investors typically want to obtain green cards for their children to be able to work and live in the United States. Vietnamese investors also often want to diversify their wealth by investing in projects outside Vietnam, which is why the EB-5 program is well-suited for their needs.

Vivian Zhu

Partner

Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP

Vivian Zhu is a partner at Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP and is the supervising attorney of the firm’s EB-5 department. She specializes in EB-5 cases, including representation of investors, regional centers and projects, distressed projects, complex age-out cases, mandamus litigation, consular inadmissibility, response to request for evidence, notice of intent to deny and notice of intent to revoke. Zhu supervises the filings of over 3,000 investor petitions that represent $1.5 billion in investments in U.S. companies. She also practices in the areas of the E-2 investor visa, L-1 intra-company transferee visa, and EB-1 petition for alien worker with an extraordinary ability. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, high net worth individuals, investors, executives and highly-skilled professionals. Zhu has several years’ experience in corporate and securities laws primarily working with Chinese companies. Her experience includes reverse mergers, PIPEs, initial public offerings, follow-on public offerings and exchange act filings.

What do you think the future of the EB-5 industry looks like? What reforms would you like to see?

EB-5 law practice will shift its focus from I-526 filings to I-829s and troubled projects. The EB-5 regional centers and projects will face new challenges such as site visits, redeployment and material changes. The costs of developing a project and operating a regional center under EB-5 program will increase significantly. Reforms I’d like to see include: enhancing EB-5 integrity and protect good faith investors, relief for aged-out children, bringing the EB-5 program back to its original congressional intent by counting 10,000 petitions and not 10,000 applicants, removing the 7 percent per country limit, relief for Chinese investors such as parole for I-526 approved investors.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

Before joining Wolfsdorf Rosenthal, I had several years’ experience in corporate and securities laws<

EB5Investors.com Staff

EB5Investors.com Staff

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