EB5Investors Magazine is excited to present the top attorneys in the EB-5 industry. Our list includes the Top 25 EB-5 Immigration Attorneys, eight corporate and securities attorneys and four attorneys highlighted for their specific areas of expertise.
These attorneys were chosen through a combination of community member votes, input from our editorial board and analysis from our in-house team. Candidates were evaluated based on their experience in the EB-5 industry, their track record, and their reputation within the field.
We interviewed each of our honorees to get unique insight into their EB-5 practice and reach beyond the confines of a prepared biography. It is our hope that this annual Top 25 list will serve as a resource for investors and developers looking for counsel, as well as a reference for EB-5 practitioners.
For more information, or to contact any of these attorneys, we invite you to view their listings at www.EB5Investors.com/directories.
Larry Behar has been an attorney since 1979, long before the establishment of the EB-5, and he has been following the program since its inception. He filed his first EB-5 case in 1995 for an individual applicant from China. He now runs Behar Law Group in Florida, which has established multiple regional centers since 2007. In addition to representing regional centers, Larry counsels individual investors and feels particularly capable of doing so due to his own immigrant background.
For the past decade, Larry’s practice has focused nearly entirely on EB-5 and he has organized two EB-5 teams—an in-house legal team and an outside “EB-5 dream team,” made up of other service providers. The multicultural and multilingual nature of his practice is a point of pride for Larry; he speaks three languages and his office boasts a total of seven languages spoken in-house.
Working within the EB-5 program rewards Larry in many ways. Most notably, he cites the personal stories of investors that he has worked with. Recently, he was able to secure permanent residence for a learning disabled woman who emigrated from Canada through the EB-5 program, and is now thriving in Florida. Additionally, he speaks of past clients that have come from security-challenged nations, such as Venezuela, and is proud that the EB-5 program can offer them a safe solution.
Since he began EB-5 work, the program has changed in many ways; Larry likens EB-5 to a growing child, and he has been there to witness all the growing pains. In the interest of encouraging program growth, Behar Law Group has been lobbying Congress for the past four years to increase the visa quota.
Larry is active in the EB-5 community and locally—he is the author of EB-5 United States Immigration Through Investment and How to Immigrate to the USA, and is a past chair of the Broward Alliance, Broward County’s economic development corporation. Larry is a long time member of AILA and IIUSA.
Edward Beshara, managing partner of Beshara Professional Association in Orlando, Florida, has over 33 years of experience in business and family immigration law. He first achieved notable success on a high volume of E-2 and L-1 cases, and with the advent of the Immigrant Investor Program, Ed brought his expertise to the EB-5 arena. As such, Ed has been involved with EB-5 from the very beginning, helping international investors to immigrate to the United States on a permanent basis for more than 25 years.
Having practiced law long enough to see the field evolve, Ed has become well-versed in the program’s various transformations, from initially only handling direct investments, to taking on investments through regional centers, to the rising popularity of EB-5 following the global economic downturn in 2008. Ed’s acute and up-to-date understanding of the program’s interworking is apparent in the fact that Beshara P.A. has represented well over 1,000 EB-5 investors, and expects to represent many more in the upcoming year. The law office has even appointed in-house liaisons for different countries and regions in order to be able to effectively communicate with each client.
Beshara P.A. exclusively practices business and family immigration law, with EB-5 as the overwhelming focus. The team represents individual investors, but also prepares regional center applications, EB-5 compliant projects, and applications for pre-approval of EB-5 exemplar compliant projects. Ed and his team hold the record for fastest regional center approval, earning designation for the client in just 28 days.
Ed takes the EB-5 industry very seriously and would say that he was born to do EB-5. The EB-5 sector allows Ed to draw upon his interest in business immigration to help create jobs and see companies succeed. Ed prides himself on his personal involvement with all his clients and promises to respond to all phone calls within 12 hours. He credits part of his success to the very qualified team in his Florida office.
For nearly 14 years, Jeff Campion has owned, operated, and managed the Law Office of Jeffrey E. Campion, P.A., based in Weston, Florida. His office counsels high-net-worth individuals who are seeking residency and naturalization in the United States. The practice additionally represents developers and regional centers in setting up EB-5 compliant projects.
Jeff began his own regional center, Texas Urban Triangle Regional Center, in 2011, and subsequently became CEO of Pathways. Pathways manages a family of regional centers that have been approved, or are pending approval, in many major U.S. population areas.
Since Jeff began working on EB-5 cases in 2009, he has seen the program change tremendously in terms of project variety, with clients now able to choose from several projects that may meet their goals and have a greater likelihood of returning capital. Indeed, he believes the EB-5 industry is just beginning and will boom in the next few years as traditional capital becomes more expensive, and large developers continue to recognize EB-5 as a viable financing tool.
With an ability to connect with people, Jeff’s philosophy is that you cannot adequately represent anyone in immigration without understanding them individually. He knows how important immigration can be to a family that leaves behind everything they know to settle in a new country, with only the hope of a better life. Many of Jeff’s high net worth clients come from Latin America, where they have been oppressed, persecuted and even kidnapped.
Jeff was drawn to immigration law, and EB-5 in particular, because it allows people to come to the United States where they can live without persecution and enjoy the freedoms deserved by all. In Jeff’s opinion, the EB-5 program not only offers such an opportunity, but also has the mutual benefit of stimulating the U.S. economy through investments in local businesses. As Jeff says, why not support a program that changes lives and builds American business in the process?
Edward Carroll got his start in the EB-5 industry around 1995 through his involvement with one of the early, major EB-5 projects. Ed was instrumental in the launch of the Vermont Regional Center and the state’s first EB-5 project—Jay Peak Resort. Since then, Ed has worked on EB-5 projects in many industries, counseling both individual investors and project developers. Ed practices at his law firm, Carroll & Associates, PC in Vermont, where he works mostly with developer and regional center clients.
Ed brings a background of commercial law and business immigration to his EB-5 practice. Most often he is approached by businesses seeking EB-5 compliance in order to attract foreign capital, developers applying for regional center designation, and regional center operators looking for assistance in filing annual USCIS reporting forms.
Throughout his career, Ed has seen the EB-5 program grow and evolve; he cites the exponential growth of regional centers and projects as a key change in the industry. For him, this means that investors now have greater choice, but also more difficulty, in discerning which projects are truly compliant and run by competent developers and regional centers.
Ed’s greatest satisfaction is the success of his clients. He is very aware of the many obstacles confronting EB-5 stakeholders relying upon the EB-5 program. Ed would like to see USCIS increase transparency and consistency and reduce adjudication times so that the economic and immigration benefits of the EB-5 program can be fully realized. Despite challenges, Ed is confident that project developers will continue to seek EB-5 funding and that investors will remain interested in the EB-5 program.
Ed speaks and writes frequently on immigration law and EB-5 issues. He is an associate editor of Immigration Options for Investors & Entrepreneurs (2nd ed.) and his articles have appeared in AILA and ABA publications, among others. Additionally, Ed has been a long time member of AILA’s EB-5 Committee and has educated various groups on immigration law, including adjudicators at the USCIS Vermont Service Center.
Robert Divine got his start in EB-5 early, but actually refused several prospective EB-5 investor clients in the 1990s, because the projects they wanted did not seem to qualify. Years later, in 2004, Robert was asked by the White House to become chief counsel of USCIS, where he went to become acting director and play a part in revamping the program with a commitment to eliminating smoke and mirrors and a focus on re-grounding EB-5 in reality.
After departing the government in 2007, Robert returned to his former role as shareholder at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C., a law firm of almost 700 attorneys in 20 offices, including Washington, D.C. Robert was asked to help several large EB-5 developers address some problematic USCIS program interpretations, and he successfully advocated to USCIS for the "exemplar" project approval process and several other improvements.
When he represents immigrant investors, Robert puts himself in the shoes of the adjudicator to provide a filing that is clear and easy for those assessing it to understand and approve. At the same time, he is aware of the degree to which policy and legal issues in the EB-5 realm remain unresolved, and finds it particularly frustrating to advise clients on how to conduct their business within the law when it is difficult know what the law really is. He reminds his clients that EB-5 regulations can undergo unpredictable cycles and, accordingly, handles their cases with foresight and discretion.
Robert appreciates EB-5 work for the way it brings together aspects of the entire legal spectrum. In his industry and client service roles, Robert strives to enhance the level of integrity and transparency from all sides. In addition to helping developers strategize about organizing large business enterprises and securities offerings, Robert enjoys collaborating with lawyers across firms and disciplines to effectuate successful EB-5 cases and the continued growth of the program. He has been elected vice president of IIUSA five times.
With a background in global business immigration and real estate, and an interest in investment visas, it is only natural that Ignacio Donoso began working on EB-5 cases seven years ago. As a managing member of I.A. Donoso & Associates, LLC, based in Bethesda, Maryland, Ignacio oversees a team of 10 professionals who primarily focus on EB-5 immigration matters. Throughout his career, Ignacio has successfully represented a number of regional centers, but now specializes in representing investors.
Ignacio finds the benefits of working in EB-5 to be two-fold. For one, he has the opportunity to help extraordinarily talented and hardworking individuals pursue their dreams in the United States. At the same time, EB-5 allows him to participate in the creation of U.S. jobs. He recently visited an EB-5 project site with his team and was rewarded with the sight of a bustling construction crew building a structure from the ground-up. It is this appreciation of what EB-5 can accomplish, and what is required to meet that objective, that makes Ignacio such a respected attorney in the industry.
Indeed, Ignacio ensures that every client he works with understands the risks involved in EB-5, is provided with the proper tools to evaluate those risks, and is advised on whether the project will achieve their immigration goals. Since he first ventured into EB-5, Ignacio has found that a growing stability in the program’s legal rules has enabled project developers and investors to better comprehend compliance with the requirements of the program.
Not only has Ignacio proven effective in handling EB-5 matters, but he is also quite happy in the industry, which results in a high-level of responsiveness and dedication to his clients. This is evident in the fact that, for several years, Ignacio has been selected by his peers to serve on the AILA International EB-5 Committee with other leading immigration attorneys in the EB-5 industry. Through his work on the committee, he has alerted the EB-5 community to certain trends and fluctuations in the program, allowing for greater compliance success.
For over 30 years Robert Gaffney has been helping individual and corporate clients make the United States their home through family, investment and employment-based immigration. Robert has represented clients immigrating under the EB-5 program since the statute was enacted in the early 1990s. He now runs the Law Offices of Robert P. Gaffney in San Francisco.
Robert attended the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies as a foreign-language fellow in the mid-1970s and he is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. He is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law, distinguishing him as among the most experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorneys in California. His ability to apply an uncommon breadth of knowledge and experience across a broad range of immigration law issues makes Robert an invaluable asset in immigration cases, and an effective bridge for EB-5 investors looking to establish a new life in the United States.
The attorneys of Law Offices of Robert P. Gaffney are supported by highly skilled, multi-faceted teams of assistants with native fluency in multiple dialects of the Chinese and other East Asian languages, and an advanced understanding of the legal, social, and cultural context of East Asian countries affecting clients’ businesses and families. The firm specializes in providing independent counsel to immigrant investor clients at all stages of the immigration process and has special expertise counseling EB-5 clients from transitional economies on complex source of funds issues.
Robert is a long-time member of the Association of Asian Studies, and a member of the San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City Committee. He frequently contributes to legal publications and regularly speaks on EB-5 and other immigration-law topics to business and professional groups. He has earned an AV rating, the highest rating for an attorney’s integrity and skill given by Martindale-Hubbell, a trusted peer-reviewed authority for legal professionals in the United States. Robert enjoys travelling abroad and enjoying the Bay Area’s wealth of cultural and outdoor activities.
Enrique Gonzalez has been involved with the EB-5 program for the entirety of his career—and nearly for the entirety of the program itself. His first serious encounter with EB-5 was in 1994, when he counseled Canadian clients on direct investment cases. Along with the rest of the industry, Enrique’s EB-5 practice experienced explosive growth around 10 years ago. Today, he is the managing partner of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP’s Florida office, where he leads a dedicated EB-5 team.
Enrique has spent 19 years of his career practicing immigration law at Fragomen, with the exception of nine months in 2013 where he worked in the U.S. Senate. At Fragomen, he works with six other immigration professionals to counsel both individual investors and regional centers. Enrique estimates that Latin American investors currently make up about 90 percent of his casework.
In the Florida office, Enrique’s team is committed to never accepting finders’ fees and will never represent investors in the same projects that they are also representing. This commitment, coupled with technical knowledge and experience, has contributed to the team’s 100 percent success rate, to date. This reputation has allowed Enrique to grow his business primarily through referrals and to build niches in certain international markets.
Enrique’s perspective not only encompasses the lifespan of the EB-5 program, but is also heavily influenced by his work on immigration legislation. In 2013, Enrique served as Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) senior advisor on immigration matters. He was the principal negotiator for the Republican Gang of Eight as S. 744 advanced through the Senate. Enrique wishes that every immigration attorney could have the chance to experience that side of the legal system.
Enrique believes in the EB-5 program’s power to drive the economic engine of our country and keep the United States competitive. He is a frequent speaker on immigration issues, and EB-5 specifically, and his immigration reform work has been cited in publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Jennifer Hermansky first began working on EB-5 investor cases in 2009, and subsequently added regional center matters to her repertoire. She has since been involved in more than 50 regional center projects and has handled hundreds of investor petitions. Jennifer works at the Philadelphia office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP and is part of the firm’s EB-5 team. 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, Jennifer is intimately familiar with the business immigration process and applies this knowledge to all of her EB-5 cases. She is knowledgeable about the EB-5 program from start to finish, helping investors from the moment they decide to file until they become U.S. citizens, and counseling regional centers on issues of management, staffing and job creation.
Because she has worked with so many individual EB-5 petitioners, and knows exactly what they are looking for in a project, Jennifer has a unique perspective in the area of regional center development. She assists with business plans, economic reports and securities offerings, ensuring that each is EB-5-compliant and marketable to foreign investors. Jennifer finds it very satisfying to work on a successful project with tangible and profitable results, while also seeing immigrants receive green cards.
Jennifer has learned that the most difficult aspect of EB-5 is keeping up with changing adjudication patterns, and excessive processing times. Despite these recurrent issues, Jennifer has seen the EB-5 program bloom, with the players currently involved in EB-5 projects elevating the industry to a higher standard. Jennifer believes that both the immigration and securities aspects of EB-5 will become more regulated, and this will only make projects better and improve investment opportunities for immigrants. When she is not working on EB-5 cases, you might find Jennifer golfing or fishing.
David Hirson has been involved with EB-5 cases since the program’s inception in 1990, placing him among the most experienced active EB-5 immigration attorneys in the nation. He was present in the U.S. Senate when EB-5 legislation was originally proposed, and debated and subsequently filed one of the first ever cases for a family from Taiwan. In fact, David filed many of the EB-5 cases that received approval during the first 10 years of the EB-5 program.
With over 30 years of experience practicing immigration law, David originally took on EB-5 cases because of the variety of legal work involved and the challenge of structuring compliant transactions, which he found to be far more interesting than regular business immigration work. He also appreciates the sense of achieving a win-win-win for the United States, developers and individual immigrants, at no cost to U.S. taxpayers. He sees the industry continuing to expand with the hope that the regional center program will become permanent, and the method of counting visa numbers for investors and their dependents will be improved.
For more than 20 years David has been certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization as a Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law. He regularly travels to China and other countries, and has developed relationships with top providers who source investors for EB-5 projects in each country. Additionally, he attends trade shows, gives lectures, and establishes new ties within the EB-5 community as a whole during his trips.
David recently established his own firm, David Hirson and Partners, LLP, in Newport Beach, California. There David and his team undertake all aspects of EB-5 work, including regional center designations and amendments; advising and structuring EB-5-compliant projects; advising on direct investments, for both small and multi-million dollar raises; and filing individual investor cases for regional center and direct investors. The firm is taking on an increasing workload, and will continue to build their EB-5 team.
Kate Kalmykov is an EB-5 immigration attorney and shareholder in the New York City area offices of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, a top-ranking international law firm. She is an active member in the immigration law community and has been working on EB-5 cases for a decade. Kate 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.
Kate finds EB-5 to be a fascinating field that has experienced exponential growth, and she is rewarded by helping investors fulfill their dreams. As an immigrant herself, Kate can personally relate to her clients, and she also finds a certain satisfaction in seeing projects develop from the ground up. She understands investor concerns and motivations for seeking immigration through investment and that insight fuels her unique approach to investor filings. Longtime client Dan Fulop says that working with Kate means more than just hiring someone to get the job done; she becomes a real partner in whatever project she is working on.
As part of Greenberg Traurig’s EB-5 team, Kate 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. She has traveled to China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Qatar, Cambodia, Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates to attend EB-5 events and network in the community.
Kate writes for EB5Investors.com, EB-5insights.com and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and on CNN, among other prominent publications. For the past three years she has been a panelist speaker at Southern California’s EB-5 Conference, and served as co-chair in 2014. Apart from EB-5, Kate is passionate about raising her three-year-old, yoga and boxing.
H. Ronald Klasko
Recognized among the nation’s most influential immigration attorneys, Ron Klasko brings over 30 years of immigration law experience to all his cases. As cofounder and managing partner of Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP in Philadelphia, Ron leads a team of 21 attorneys who work on a full range of immigration law issues, 10 of whom work exclusively on representing EB-5 investors or regional centers and project developers.
Ron has built up his EB-5 expertise over the life of the program and it is this long-term perspective that gives him unique insight into the evolving field, changing USCIS policies and exciting developments.
Ron enjoys getting involved on the ground floor of projects and making an impact, improving practices, and crafting creative and effective ways to interpret the law. Embracing the spirit of the program, Ron is rewarded by seeing projects come to fruition that otherwise would not have, were it not for EB-5 capital. Similarly, he recognizes that EB-5 is often the only immigration route available to immigrant investors.
Because EB-5 is both an immigration and a development program, Ron says it is essential to understand EB-5 law and policy, as well as deal structure on a detailed level. After the deal is done, however, the job is not over, and Ron and his firm have established a compliance team—complete with auditors, software, and monthly reviews of regional center operations—to ensure that their regional center clients are adequately prepared for the filing of investors’ I-829 petitions and developers’ I-924A petitions.
Often cited as an authority on EB-5 matters, Ron is routinely invited to speak at conferences, and he is recognized as a leader in the EB-5 community. Chair of AILA’s EB-5 Committee for four of the last five years, Ron previously served as the national president for the organization. He has been invited by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary to testify on immigration reform and is one of three attorneys to be honored with the AILA Founders Award for his contributions to immigration jurisprudence.
After taking the EB-5 immigration journey himself, Anthony Korda began helping others do the same. He first became involved with the EB-5 program in 2006 when he and his family emigrated from the United Kingdom through the program. He chose to make an EB-5 investment not only because it allowed his family to realize their dream of living in the United States, but also because he believes in the program’s ability to bring funding, entrepreneurs and great business opportunities to the American economy.
His unique insider perspective on the EB-5 program is what makes Anthony such a valuable and coveted attorney. With clients, his main focus is on understanding the person behind the application, finding the right project for them and managing expectations. In this way, Anthony is able to present his clients with an accurate picture of the EB-5 program and exactly what is expected of them in order to be successful.
As with many attorneys on our Top 25 list, Anthony would like to see more visas become available so that the current backlog is reduced, and retrogression is no longer an issue. He also finds that source of funds logistics are a particularly complicated aspect of EB-5. With the growing success of the program, he foresees possible changes in EB-5, such as the removal of the targeted employment area component, along with a general increase in the minimum required investment.
Since his last appearance on our Top 25 list, Anthony and his family have all become U.S. citizens, and he strives to guide his clients towards the same success. His firm Korda, Zitt and Associates has offices in London, Naples, Florida, and Beverly Hills, California. His practice provides a blended mix of representation, with individual investors making up approximately 60 percent of his EB-5 clients, and regional centers the remaining 40 percent. Anthony is fluent in German and English, and currently lives in Florida, where he spends his free time kite surfing and boating.
In the early years of EB-5, investors involved in failed projects came to Linda Lau for assistance in trying to remove conditions on their green card. For many it was too late, and Linda quickly realized it would be more effective to engage in filing EB-5 applications from the earliest stage to help her clients avoid failed projects altogether. And Linda has been working hard on this goal ever since her first EB-5 case in 1994.
As the president of Global Law Group in South Pasadena, California, Linda leads a team of dedicated professionals. Linda’s practice exclusively handles investment immigration matters, allowing the firm to offer a range of services targeted towards all clients who need EB-5 assistance. Included among Linda’s areas of expertise are the filing of forms I-924 and I-526, and compliance review of projects and EB-5 regional centers. Eighty percent of her staff is bilingual, and the firm additionally operates a representative office in Shanghai.
Originally from Hong Kong, Linda understands the immigration process on a technical and personal level. The entire staff at Global Law Group is trained to exercise empathy and compassion toward their clients, allowing the practice to handle cases holistically. In addition to creating a compassionate environment, Linda also pushes herself and her staff towards the goal of 100 percent approval of cases. Her practice is founded on the mission to provide wise guidance and advocacy, and to be a trusted provider of legal services to entrepreneurs and global citizens.
Linda’s awareness that the complexities of immigration often transcend legal issues is fostered by her background in social work, and the Global Law Group’s Global Dreambuilders Foundation is an integral part of the firm. The foundation benefits organizations that provide necessary services to the poor and needy around the world. Linda’s empathy for her clients and others, combined with her technical expertise, contributes to her standing as one of the leading EB-5 attorneys in the country.
Martin Lawler has devoted 30 years of legal practice to immigration law, helping individuals build lives in the United States. Working in the firm that his father started, Lawler & Lawler Law Offices, Martin first began working with E-2 investment visas, which paved the way for his entrance into the EB-5 sphere in 1991. Since that first case, he has continued to represent individual investors and regional centers because he believes in the viability of the EB-5 program and its positive effects on the American economy. Martin practices in San Francisco.
Martin sees EB-5 as an opportunity for people to change their lives and their business career paths, especially in times when immigration to the United States is difficult and the capital markets are still recovering. Visiting completed projects—and actually seeing people working the jobs he has helped create—is deeply satisfying for Martin.
An educator in the immigration community, Martin is highly-literate in the Gordian knot that EB-5 can be; he understands that the program is a marriage between immigration laws, business development concepts, economic models, and more—all grounded in ever-changing governmental policy. Martin is also constantly and proactively seeking more information about the EB-5 program. For example, when he attended the most recent USCIS EB-5 stakeholder engagement, he received answers to all three questions he put forth. He is a frequent speaker at EB-5 conferences and in the past year alone has traveled to engagements in China, Vietnam, Korea, and throughout the United States.
In the past year, Martin was also published by The Wall Street Journal, marking his third appearance in the publication. Additionally, he wrote, and regularly updates, Professionals: A Matter of Degree, a treatise on employment-based green cards. In October, Martin also served as co-chair of IIUSA’s 4th Annual EB-5 Market Exchange in San Francisco. It is Martin’s extensive knowledge and expertise in all areas of immigration law that makes him an authority in the field and an extremely effective EB-5 attorney.
Nelson Lee did not intend to be an EB-5 immigration attorney. In 2010, Nelson left a 17-year career as a senior deputy prosecutor with the King County prosecuting attorney’s office to start his own law firm, Lee & Lee, PS, in Seattle, Washington. Like Nelson, many of the attorneys at his firm had backgrounds in prosecution, without extensive interest in EB-5. Nelson also admits that he was aware of a certain stigma surrounding EB-5 at the time, and was wary of getting involved in the program.
Just a few months later, Nelson began working with several clients who had invested in failed EB-5 projects, and whose cases had been mishandled by others. Nelson’s prosecutorial instinct caused him to ask how such problems could be prevented on a larger-scale. And thus Nelson’s commitment to EB-5 was sealed, catalyzed by the goal to empower investors by providing them with the tools to make informed and careful decisions, and to subsequently guide them through the EB-5 process.
Now Nelson leads the dedicated EB-5 team at Lee & Lee, PS, which focuses on representing investor clients. As a Chinese-American himself, Nelson wants to ensure that the EB-5 investor’s first experience in the United States is a positive and successful one. And indeed, the success is clear in the results: although Lee & Lee, PS, is relatively new to the EB-5 arena, the practice has already submitted close to 250 I-526 petitions, with more than 50 in the pipeline.
When not representing clients, Nelson spends his time trying to educate the local government and municipalities on the benefits of EB-5. He also currently serves as judge pro tem for the City of Lake Forest Park, is president of the Hong Kong Association of Washington, and is the legal advisor and a board member for Seniors in Action. He has been voted as a Top 40 Lawyer Under 40 by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, along with being recognized as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine.
Daniel B. Lundy
Daniel Lundy is a senior associate attorney at Klasko, Rulon, Stock & Seltzer, LLP, where he leads the firm’s EB-5 project group, and dedicates his practice full-time to EB-5 clients. The complexity of the EB-5 program is what first led Dan to EB-5 cases four years ago when an influx of EB-5-related cases at his prior law firm quickly sparked his interest. At Klasko, Lundy primarily specializes in representing regional centers, projects and developers, while still handling the occasional investor case.
Headquartered in the firm’s Philadelphia office, Dan and his team have represented dozens of regional centers and hundreds of EB-5 projects, with an impressive track record. His clients include large and sophisticated developers. Indeed, Dan loves being at the center of highly complex deals, and seeking creative immigration solutions to business problems. His goal is to help his clients structure projects that are compliant with EB-5 regulations and marketable to investors, so that the projects can be successfully built and the jobs created. To accomplish this, he couples his business ingenuity with expectation management in a program that he has found to not always be transparent or predictable.
In the past several years, Dan has seen the industry grow up, from producing relatively simple and straightforward projects, to multifaceted deals with complex collateral packages sponsored by major brands. Dan expects this trend to continue, and predicts that regulatory action in the near future will alter the program in a positive way. He shares his industry expertise as a frequent speaker and writer on EB-5 topics, and has been featured in publications such as The New York Times. Dan is also a member of AILA and the Banking Committee of IIUSA.
Dan brings a broad immigration background, and an advanced level of business knowledge to the table, allowing him to find necessary solutions to his EB-5 clients’ business quandaries. When he is not handling tough cases, Dan enjoys fishing.
An immigration lawyer of 22 years, David M. Morris is chair of AILA’s EB-5 Investor Visa Committee and a senior editor of one of the leading EB-5 books, Immigration Options for Investors & Entrepreneurs (3rd ed.). David manages Visa Law Group’s Washington, D.C., office, which exclusively practices immigration and visa law. He is a preeminent speaker and widely published in the EB-5 industry.
When asked to comment about today’s EB-5 program, David always starts by describing his unique EB-5 perspective gained between 1996 and 2000, when the program was effectively turned upside down. Prior to 2000, when the EB-5 program was still small but growing, David’s firm represented a large percentage of foreign investors. He feels that then, like today, there was strong optimism that the pilot program would fully realize its legislative intent and provide a reliable path to residency as a result of investment and American job creation.
David was present when all of that changed literally overnight in 1998, when the federal government issued the Matter of Izummi precedent decision, upending the entire EB-5 program. He describes how the INS instituted immediate and sweeping rule changes, many applied retroactively, through a series of AAO decisions. The INS then formed special adjudication teams to deny or revoke almost every I-526 petition that had not yet resulted in conditional residency.
For David, and the handful of other lawyers practicing in EB-5 in the late 1990s, the program’s darkest days have provided him with invaluable experience. There is no doubt in David’s mind that today’s EB-5 policies can all be traced back to issues raised by the INS in 1998. He believes many of these same legal and industry potential pitfalls exist today, and can be seen in recent denials and RFEs. With his in-depth knowledge of EB-5 history, David is well suited to help his clients navigate current USCIS policies and predict adjudication trends. This is a big reason why he is recognized today as a top EB-5 lawyer.
Angelo Paparelli has been engaged with EB-5 issues since 1990, when the Immigrant Investor Program was first established. In the early days, Angelo focused on troubleshooting problems that arose as a result of open questions that floated around the EB-5 community with no easy answers. By the end of that first decade, he had established a regional center. He is now a partner in the firm Sayfarth Shaw, LLP, where he primarily works with regional centers and project developers, and, to a lesser extent, with individual investors. Angelo is known throughout the EB-5 industry as someone equipped to take on difficult cases and handle RFEs.
With a background in international business and tax issues, Angelo brings unique expertise to the EB-5 field. Angelo prides himself on visualizing creative solutions to intricate problems. He has learned that the complexities of EB-5 arise in large part from the lack of published governmental regulations on the program, and the resulting plethora of non-binding guidance. In order to be persuasive, without having a substantial body of EB-5-related law available for citation, Angelo relies on logic, analogy, and his broad knowledge of other law categories where interpretations have been settled.
To support his work in the EB-5 community, Angelo runs a free monthly telephone roundtable on regional centers, intended for experts in the EB-5 arena to discuss specific issues in detail. He has found that a do-it-yourself mentality in the EB-5 community often leads to problem cases and RFEs, which might have been prevented. He hopes that those interested in EB-5 will navigate its ambiguities by relying on the experience of professionals.
Angelo is an avid writer and co-edited Forming and Operating a Regional Center: A Guide for Developers and Business Innovators. He also was named by Chambers and Partners as California’s only “Star” Immigration Attorney in 2014. You can find Angelo’s musing on all things immigration law on his blog Nation of Immigrators. When he is not practicing law, he enjoys yoga, fitness, theater and spending time with his wife and two daughters.
In the late 1990s, Mona Shah took on her first EB-5 case for a U.K. couple that gravitated to her immigrant background. She had previously immigrated to the United States from the United Kingdom, working her way up as single mother, without any legal or business contacts in the United States, to become a respected immigration lawyer. Thanks to those first clients, Mona entered into and has continued in the EB-5 industry, building a successful career that includes founding New York City’s first regional center in 2008.
At her firm, Mona Shah & Associates, Mona and her team counsel hundreds of clients spanning four different continents on EB-5 matters. Mona’s practice covers everything EB-5, from structuring and drafting offering documents, to liaising with overseas agents, to marketing overseas and filing USCIS petitions. The firm equally represents projects, investors and regional centers. Mona and her team also act as co-counsel for many lawyers who are just beginning in EB-5, and often troubleshoot for both regional centers and attorneys.
Mona’s 17-year immigration law background includes immigration deportation and litigation, as well as business immigration. She notes that EB-5 continues to be an exciting area that involves knowledge of business and marketing, as well as immigration and country conditions. Mona’s ability to view the EB-5 program from both legal and business standpoints has fueled her success, and her international history has uniquely equipped her to market her regional centers overseas.
As a woman in what she refers to as the “old boys club” of EB-5, Mona is proud of her professional accomplishments, which include winning Acquisition International Magazine’s 2014 Global Mobility & Immigration Awards in the Immigration Appeals Category. She regularly speaks on EB-5 investment at seminars overseas, and has appeared on television, podcasts and radio programs. Mona is also an adjunct professor at Baruch University in New York City, which will be the first city university to offer an EB-5 specialized course geared towards developers, practitioners and all interested people.
Lincoln Stone has practiced EB-5 law for more than 23 years and his impressive track record includes successfully representing more than 3,000 EB-5 clients and obtaining removal of conditions for more than 1,000 investors. In fact, Lincoln has represented more than 10 percent of all the EB-5 investors ever to obtain removal of conditions in the EB-5 program, according to current USCIS statistics. Additionally, dozens of his U.S. business and regional center clients have raised more than $3 billion in EB-5 capital for some 100 different commercial enterprises.
Lincoln has also made notable contributions to literature on EB-5. He is editor-in-chief of three editions of the essential practice book, Immigration Options for Investors & Entrepreneurs (AILA), chief editor of the Regional Center Business Journal (IIUSA), and author of more than 30 articles on EB-5 practice, policy, and interdisciplinary topics. He also served 10 years on the AILA EB-5 Investor Visa Committee, and for five of those years he served as chair. In this capacity, he was a leader in drafting legislative and regulatory proposals.
Always active in the EB-5 community, from 2007 to 2012, Lincoln created and served as chair of four EB-5 conferences for ILW. He then organized and served as program chair for five editions of AILA National’s EB-5 Investor Visa Conference. Lincoln received two separate AILA President Commendations for leadership and advancing the EB-5 investor visa practice.
Lincoln directs the investor & entrepreneur practice group at Stone Grzegorek & Gonzalez LLP, a full-service immigration law boutique of 22 lawyers. He also leads the active pro bono practice at the law firm, including a recent stint at the federal detention center in Artesia, New Mexico aiding Central American refugees. Lincoln previously served as chair of AILA’s National Pro Bono Committee, and received two separate AILA President Commendations for leadership of AILA’s pro bono efforts.
Lincoln is listed in numerous peer and attorney ratings publications, including The Best Lawyers in America, as one of the country’s premier practitioners of immigration law.
Cletus M. Weber
Cletus M. Weber is nationally recognized in the EB-5 industry, and he has been representing Chinese investors and entrepreneurs for more than 20 years. As a founding partner of Peng & Weber, PLLC, he co-leads (with partner Elizabeth Peng) a Seattle-based team of seven immigration lawyers focused on representing EB-5 regional centers and investors. Cletus’s expertise extends well beyond the EB-5 program, and he has helped a number of investors and entrepreneurs obtain their green cards through other immigration categories.
As a member of the 10-lawyer national EB-5 Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Cletus is helping to develop AILA’s recommendations to USCIS on clarifying EB-5 regulations to streamline adjudication processes and make the EB-5 program more predictable. In 2012, he won an AILA President’s Commendation for “Outstanding Leadership as Chair of the Board of Publications.” Cletus has written articles on pressing issues facing EB-5 regional centers and investors, including tenant occupancy and the upcoming EB-5 visa backlog.
In fact, Cletus has played an active role in many publications, having written articles for, reviewed, or edited many of the leading books on EB-5 and other areas of immigration law. He was the senior editor and author of multiple EB-5 articles in Immigration Options for Investors & Entrepreneurs, (3rd ed.), and he is an invited reviewer of the EB-5 section in Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook, (14th ed.). Cletus additionally served as editor-in-chief of The EB-5 Handbook: A Guide for Investors and Developers, published this year by EB5 Investors Magazine, and has edited influential AILA publications such as the 2012 AILA EB-5 Conference Workbook.
Through self-study and numerous business trips to China since 1991, Cletus speaks “traveler’s” Chinese and can also read and write Chinese at a very modest level. Cletus’s greatest challenges in EB-5 come from the ongoing unpredictability in USCIS adjudications and processing times, but his greatest inspiration in the EB-5 world comes from the stories of the investors he represents.
Jinhee Wilde provides results-oriented and personalized immigration solutions. She began her legal career as a prosecutor for the City of Chicago, and then served as attorney advisor, special counsel, and inspector general designee for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After entering the private sector as a partner at prominent Washington, D.C. law firms, Jinhee eventually founded her own firm, and is now the principal and managing partner of Wilde & Associates in Rockville, Maryland. Following her first EB-5 case in 2007, Jinhee’s attention to detail and her 29 years of diverse legal experience have resulted in a 100 percent approval track record on her EB-5 cases.
This EB-5 success is due largely to Jinhee’s careful due diligence on each prospective project and insistence on substantial documentation. Indeed, Jinhee believes that EB-5 immigration attorneys should have a firm comprehension of the implications of every EB-5-related document, in order to explain all paperwork to their clients. In turn, Jinhee also provides a much-needed clarity when it comes to USCIS correspondence. She has developed a proprietary, customized chart that tracks the flow of EB-5 investment money through various accounts.
For Jinhee, the beauty of EB-5 is that all parties involved can win: the United States attains economic growth through true job creation, and foreign investors receive immigration benefits and good investment opportunities. She looks forward to USCIS streamlining the industry by providing additional resources to adjudicate individual petitions rather than approving an excess of unused regional center designations.
To avoid any potential conflict of interest, Jinhee only represents immigrant investor clients and says she would feel uncomfortable placing an investor in a project that she had put together herself. She is a member AILA and is very active throughout the immigration law community. Jinhee is frequently invited to speak at legal seminars and conferences around the nation on immigration matters. She lives in Maryland, and has earned a reputation for exceptional customer service by responding to her clients in less than 24 hours.
Bernard Wolfsdorf took on his first EB-5 case in 1993, saving all the jobs at a troubled business by getting approval in 48 hours. Bernie has seen the program evolve and develop since the early 1990s when little was clear, and feels it has recently matured with the entry of large, reputable developers. He expects that the industry will continue to grow with the addition of more professional firms.
Bernie is managing partner at Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group, which has offices in Los Angeles and New York. The firm is comprised of twenty attorneys, most of whom are involved in some aspect of the EB-5 investor practice. Bernie and his team primarily file I-526/I-829 applications, but also regularly file regional center applications and amendments.
Bernie enjoys the challenges of contributing to a variety of exciting projects, and particularly enjoys working with the top-notch professionals now entering the industry. His clients have directly contributed over $300 million in the last year alone. Bernie cites his comprehensive approach to working with his clients as a contributor to his success.
Bernie brings much more to the table than just technical expertise. As an immigrant who is married to a Chinese immigrant, Bernie has a unique ability to connect with clients, especially investors from China. Apart from his work on individual cases, Bernie works hard to prevent investor children from aging out of green card eligibility because of delays in their parents’ cases, both among his clients and in the industry as a whole. He sees the EB-5 program as an unparalleled opportunity for immigrant children to gain a world-class education.
Among many other accolades, Bernie has been named “most highly rated immigration lawyer in the world,” and “Lawyer of the Year” by the International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers and Who’s Who Legal, respectively. Bernie is also a past president of AILA; his involvement in the leadership of AILA has equipped him well for EB-5 work.
Stephen Yale-Loehr, Attorney of Counsel at Miller Mayer in Ithaca, New York brings more than 30 years of immigration law experience to his EB-5 cases. Steve first became involved in EB-5 in 1996 and was immediately drawn to EB-5 because it requires him to stay on the cutting edge of business, securities, and immigration law.
Steve is perhaps best known for co-authoring Immigration Law and Procedure, a leading treatise on U.S. immigration law. He has also authored many books and law review articles on immigration issues, has testified before Congress, and has appeared as an expert witness numerous times.
With Steve at the forefront of their growth, Miller Mayer has assembled a team of nine EB-5 attorneys and 20 EB-5 staff, including several native Chinese speakers. Miller Mayer has handled more than two thousand EB-5 cases and represents individual EB-5 investors, regional centers, and project developers. The firm has filed more than 35 successful regional center applications and worked on more than 150 EB-5 projects, helping its clients raise upward of $2 billion in EB-5 funds for their projects.
Steve sees a growing sophistication and maturation among EB-5 investors, regional centers, and project developers as the program expands. He likens EB-5 to a Rubik’s Cube, in that all the complex aspects of an EB-5 project have to line up correctly in order to be successful. Steve forecasts a continued growth in the EB-5 program, despite potential setbacks from the predicted backlog for Chinese investors.
When he is not counseling clients at Miller Mayer, Steve teaches an immigration law seminar at Cornell Law School each fall and a political asylum clinic each spring. He also founded and is president emeritus of IIUSA. Steve is listed each year in Chambers Global, Chambers USA, Who’s Who in America, and An International Who’s Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers as one of the top immigration lawyers in the world.