By Kelvin Ma and EB5 Investors Magazine
We are honored to welcome Immigration Attorney Kelvin Ma to the Editorial Board of EB5 Investors Magazine. Ma will help us identify quality content and topics for the magazine’s publications. Ma recently shared with us his invaluable experience as an immigration attorney.
Q.: Mr. Ma, it’s a pleasure to meet you! We are honored to have you with us. Please take a moment to tell us a little bit about your professional background.
A: I finished my Bachelor’s degree in Law at Nanjing University in 2002 after which I completed my Master of Arts in Sociology in 2004 at the University of Texas at Austin in the United States. I then proceeded to study law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I obtained my Juris Doctor. I hold licenses to practice law in China, Wisconsin and New York. Currently, I am a partner of the Shanghai Demei Law Firm, and I specialize in representative and litigation cases for U.S. immigration law. I have been handling EB-5 cases since early 2009 and so far our law firm has managed more than six hundred EB-5 related cases.
Additionally, I am the chairman of the International Membership Sub-Committee of the Association to Invest in USA (IIUSA) and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). My responsibilities include creating a dialogue with experts and agencies in the Chinese EB-5 investment immigration industry, and using IIUSA as a platform to provide feedback to U.S. policy makers to build bilateral communication between China and the United States.
Q: In your professional opinion, what are the distinct advantages of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and why does it draw the interest from Chinese investors?
A: The main reason is the low threshold for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Beside the $500,000 (or $1 million) investment, there are no requirements for business experience, age, educational background or language. The program instead places its primary focus on the clear explanation of source and flow of funds so there are few requirements placed on the individual. As such, this program has a broad base in China.
EB-5 does not have as strenuous requirements compared with other visa programs such as L1-A and EB1-C in terms of management and effort needed to see it succeed. This is why there has been an explosive growth in Chinese EB-5 investors in recent years.
Q: In your observation, what are the unique characteristics of the Chinese EB-5 industry?
A: Most EB-5 investors are from China; therefore, many cases require proficiency in clarifying the Chinese source of funds, and a certain amount of legal knowledge on finance exporting, adoption law, inheritance law, and marriage law. Moreover, real-life cases will involve many China-specific legal matters. Acquiring this legal knowledge is crucial to any immigration attorney practicing in China.
Q: During your career in practicing immigration law, what is an unforgettable experience that you’ve had?
A: As immigration attorneys, we do our best to ensure high success rates. However, difficulties exist in every case due to the complicated nature of the EB-5 application. It’s not as easy as submitting an application and getting approved. It happened to us a few years ago when USCIS replied NOID to our client's application due to negligence in file processing, but we appealed to USCIS for a motion to reopen or reconsider through the Form I-290B and after they reconsidered the case, we finally succeeded in getting the application approved.
This case left a lasting impression on me because of one lesson I learned during the whole process, and it’s something I would like to share with other experts in this industry: the immigration application process is not always smooth sailing, and because of this it’s important to remember that our job is not only to fight legally with the USCIS for our clients, but to understand how to comfort our clients and educate them on why something was rejected as well as the proper channels that can be taken to appeal the decision. We must encourage them to not give up so easily. If we had just accepted the NOID decision and passed that on to our clients, then they would never have gotten the opportunity to immigrate.
Q: What thoughts would you like to share with Chinese migration agencies and other experts in this industry?
A: The EB-5 investment immigration is a highly professional and rapidly changing industry. I need to update my presentation content once every one or two weeks when I give my lectures, so we must constantly be updating ourselves in order to keep up with policy and market changes.