EB-5 Retrogression: “We have seen an increased number of disputes”
EB-5 attorney Ying (Elissa) Lu is the managing attorney of the Law Office of Lu & Associates. She focuses her practice on employment-based immigration, including EB-5.
“I would love to help even more investors all around the world to obtain their green cards,” she said. “When they face challenges, either at the I-526 stage or I-829 stage, I strive to continue to be my clients’ trusted advisor and problem solver.”
Helping her clients achieve their immigration goals is the most rewarding experience, she said.
“Clients’ success is our firm’s success,” she said.
How and why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?
I started my own law firm in 2009 when the EB-5 business was blooming in China. At that time, 80% or more EB-5 investors were from China. I am bilingual in English and Mandarin Chinese and was educated in law schools both in America and China, which makes it relatively easy for me to solve country specific issues in EB-5.
What are some current trends you are seeing in the EB-5 market?
The EB-5 market has declined sharply when Chinese investors began having a super long visa retrogression. The prolonged USCIS’s processing time in I-526 and I-829 petitioners, together, with significantly increased minimum investment amounts, also deterred many other foreign investors.
Due to visa retrogression, a number of investors are not able to start their conditional residency in a reasonable time after their I-526 was successfully approved. Their investments are held up in EB-5 projects for a much longer time than what they initially intended. Some projects failed during this absurdly long waiting period. We have seen an increased number of disputes between foreign investors and regional centers/direct EB-5 projects. Our firm often receives inquiries from foreign investors asking if we can save their EB-5 petitions or help them exit from the EB-5 investment.
How do you think the pandemic has impacted the EB-5 industry?
The most significant impact of COVID-19 on the EB-5 industry is job creation. During the pandemic, many businesses have closed, and many constructions have been halted, resulting in losses in jobs and money. A financially healthy project is paramount for investors to achieve their green cards and get back their investment.
What are your thoughts about the redeployment situation and the best strategy to deal with it?
Because our firm mostly represents individual investors, I always think from their standpoint. As to redeployment, it actually does not leave much leeway for the investors who have been in the middle of the process for years. For investors, they only have two choices: accepting the redeployment or aborting the immigration process. Even though they are not satisfied with the redeployment plan, if they want to continue the EB-5 application, they have to accept the plan. Changing to another regional center/project at the time of redeployment is not a feasible choice.
What do you think needs to be reformed with the Eb-5 program at the time it is up for renewal in June?
I hope that the reform will speed up the EB-5 processing time, alleviate visa retrogression, and give investors more protection.
Why did you decide to join our verified community and what has it done for your business?
Eb5investors.com has been one of the top websites that leads foreign investors to find my firm. It has organized wonderful EB-5 events, providing a forum for investors, regional centers, and law practitioners to communicate with each other. I especially like the Q&A feature because it gives me an opportunity to contribute to the EB-5 community.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“It always seems impossible until it's done.” This quote comes from Nelson Mandela. I like this quote because it reminds me that even though something seems impossible at the time it can be done with hard work, perseverance and dedication.
The ever-changing landscape of immigration law brings a lot of challenges to immigration attorneys. This quote has motivated me to advocate relentlessly for my clients’ legal rights. I do not spend time to think about how difficult a case is. I would rather say: “Let’s do it!”