Covid-19’s impact on EB-5: “The effects have been tremendous”
Olusanjo Omoniyi is an immigration attorney and founder of the Omoniyi Law Firm in Chicago. He says the pandemic has impacted the EB-5 industry greatly.
“The effects have been tremendous,” he said.
The modes of communication about the EB-5 visa have been altered from face-to-face meetings among agents, investors, regional center representatives, attorneys and other shareholders to virtual meetings and electronic communications, he said.
“There are some complaints that this has resulted in longer resolution of deals as more contacts are needed,” he said. “However, on the other hand though, all these shareholders have been afforded the opportunity to reach a wider and diverse audience at a reduced cost and faster time frame.”
What are some current trends you are seeing in the EB-5 market?
Currently, beginning from Nov. 21, 2019, when the investment amount rose to a minimum of $900,000 and various rules were imposed such as limitations on state designation of TEA, the number of investors has significantly dwindled. Also, the re-designation of TEAs has negatively impacted several projects of regional centers. Hopefully, the Biden will approve the continuation of the program. However, there are likely to be some changes as well.
What are your top business goals this year?
This year, I plan to hold webinars and some will include collaboration with diverse shareholders.
What achievement in this market has been most rewarding? Why?
Helping clients getting approval as investors and entering the U.S. with their families has been most rewarding. I feel so proud of my accomplishment. It’s very satisfying that these clients have brought other businesses together both in EB-5 and other areas of laws. It seems the relationship last longer than in my other areas of law practice.
What are your thoughts about the redeployment situation and the best strategy to deal with it?
The practice has been extremely unpopular and frustrating. There is no set of definitive governing rules. The best strategy is to request a guiding memorandum from the USCIS working hand-in-hand with the interested shareholders such as members of the EB-5 industry and IIUSA and AILA.
What do you think will happen with the reauthorization of the EB-5 program in June?
First, I would like to see the current minimum amount of $900,000 be reduced. Second, the current policy of restricting the role of states particularly in the designation of TEAs is clearly not beneficial to everyone. In fact, the application and the rules are unwieldy and should be jettisoned for a set of helpful rules and be economic pro-growth.
Why did you decide to join the EB-5 verified community and what has it done for your business?
Well, it is an opportunity to share my experience and knowledge of the EB-5 program with various shareholders who have an interest in the EB-5 visa program. It has dual benefits to my law practice namely, more worldwide business contacts in terms of clients and collaboration with various shareholders and gaining further insights on various issues affecting the EB-5 program.
What is your favorite quote and why?
Barbara Jordan once said: “If you're going to play the game properly, you'd better know every rule.” The EB-5 can use this quote as decisions from the regulatory agencies affecting the EB-5 are often so fungible and the rules keep changing.