Attorneys practicing immigration law in regards to the EB-5 visa program may have diverse immigration law practices.
EB-5 lawyers may exclusively practice U.S. immigration law or a combination of immigration law and general practice; others may practice in a boutique law firm. The same exclusivity and combination may also apply to practitioners in a large law firm practice.
Specialization in EB-5
To become proficient in the EB-5 area, you must dedicate the required cost and time to attend seminars, and conferences. And of course, practical experience representing EB-5 clients is key. The goal is to gain a reputation as an attorney who specializes in this area, which in turn, will lead to more potential clients inquiring as to your services.
Marketing and advertising
Potential clients, and the public in general, need to be continually aware of your expertise and specialized practice areas, such as EB-5.
In the EB-5 area, clients and potential clients may include principals who are involved or desire to form EB-5 Regional Centers and/or EB-5 Regional Center projects, and potential foreign national investors for EB-5 projects.
Be aware that there are many marketing groups that may wish to market or advertise your EB-5 legal services, but they usually charge a fee. Before paying a fee, it is essential to research the credibility and effectiveness of the group’s services.
For more on this topic see The Role of an EB-5 Visa Attorney in Regards to Direct Investment Projects by Chrystal C. Green
Starting an effective EB-5 practice
Clients and potential clients require immediate expertise and experience in the EB-5 area.
The best advice for today's EB-5 market, if you are starting in the EB-5 area, is to co-counsel with experienced and well known EB-5 attorneys. You can utilize the credible and experienced EB-5 attorneys to ensure that EB-5 representation can occur without unnecessary delays. Your clients and potential clients are more likely to engage your law firm for EB-5 representation if they know that your team is experienced.
Team of EB-5 professionals
There is also an equal need to have an experienced, specialized and well-known team of professionals.
The EB-5 attorney, in giving direction, should be aware of timeline goals of the client, and the realistic time it will take for the professional team members to supply the required documentation. The project has to be EB-5 compliant with USCIS rules, regulations, and policies. The goal is for the EB-5 project, with supporting documentation—to be supplied by the professional team members—to be approved by USCIS.
Marketing of an EB-5 Regional Center project
The EB-5 Regional Center project should be EB-5 compliant with USCIS rules, regulations and policies, but for the EB-5 Regional Center project to be successful it also has to be marketable.
To be marketable, the EB-5 Regional Center project has to be attractive to foreign national investors. Therefore, it is essential that you, as an EB-5 attorney, assist the EB-5 Regional Center project gain access to a source of foreign national investors who intend to invest their funds.
Compliance with regulations
If the foreign national investor client decides to invest in a particular EB-5 Regional Center project, the EB-5 Regional Center project may offer to pay you a finder’s fee. However, please note some bar rules do not authorize the attorney to accept this finder’s fee. In addition to bar rules, you must also be aware of securities regulations that may apply to your practice.
Overhead and operational costs
Without doubt, the EB-5 practice is labor intensive and requires a substantial amount of staff time and supporting documentation.
It is imperative for the practitioner to have a business plan, and annual budget to account for an increase in staff and overhead costs for the increased number of clients.
In an EB-5 Regional Center practice, the law firm may be chosen by a broker to represent all of the foreign national investors for the EB-5 Regional Center project.
To avoid unnecessary overhead and operation costs of extra staff, it may be prudent and cost-effective to retain credible and specialized organizations to prepare the required source of funds documentation. The cost of hiring these organizations might be less than the cost of hiring new staff.
Maintaining an efficient EB-5 practice
There are many ways to effectively and efficiently manage a practice, and the key is regularity and consistency.
For instance, schedule weekly meetings with the staff to review case statuses, timelines, and deadlines for filings or work to be done.
It is important for the experienced EB-5 attorneys or the co-counsel EB-5 attorney to have an open door policy for discussing questions and reviewing analysis with the staff. The team effort approach is essential to the EB-5 practice, which in turns benefits the clients.
EB-5 clients should always have the confidence that their EB-5 attorney has the knowledge, expertise, and experience to represent them and achieve their EB-5 goals.
You should not offer guarantees of results or offer business advice on any EB-5 project. It is always beneficial to co-counsel with experienced EB-5 practitioners for EB-5 projects.