Top 25 Immigration Attorneys
EB5 Investors Magazine is excited to present the top attorneys, business plan writers, and economists in the EB-5 industry. Our list includes the Top 25 EB-5 immigration attorneys, 15 corporate and securities attorneys, and 10 attorneys we recognize for their specific areas of expertise.
We selected these EB-5 attorneys through a careful process of EB-5 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.
It is our hope that this annual Top 25 list will serve as a resource for investors and developers looking for counsel or professional EB-5 services, 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.
LISTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
Stone Grzegorek & Gonzalez LLP
Elsie Hui Arias is a partner at Stone Grzegorek & Gonzalez LLP (SGG) in Los Angeles, California. She is certified as a specialist in immigration and nationality law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, a designation that is held by a very small percentage of immigration practitioners in California based on their demonstrated expertise in all aspects of U.S. immigration law.
For the last nine years, Arias’ practice has focused on EB-5 immigration, through which she has successfully represented hundreds of foreign nationals with their I-526 and I-829 petitions based on investment with regional centers or individual businesses. She also provides counsel to regional centers and developers with respect to preparing investment offerings suitable for EB-5 funding for diverse commercial ventures, applying for initial and amended regional center designations (including approval of I-526 exemplar petitions), and ongoing compliance issues. At SGG, she co-manages a team of more than 20 lawyers and staff devoted to representing EB-5 investors and entrepreneurs.
Arias also has significant experience in other areas of U.S. immigration law, including employment- and family-based immigration, waivers of inadmissibility, citizenship and naturalization, and motions/appeals before the Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She has provided pro bono representation to indigent clients referred by nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles, including Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) and Catholic Charities.
Arias is a frequent conference speaker on EB-5 and other immigration matters. She has also written on various aspects of EB-5, including: Removal of Conditions for EB-5 Investors: Practical Guidance in Preparing I829 Petitions and Transitioning the E-2 Investor to an EB-5 Entrepreneur.
Arias earned her Bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of California at Berkeley, and her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California at Davis. Outside of the office, Arias enjoys trying new restaurants and wines with her husband, a civil litigator, and taking long walks with their Labrador retrievers.
Edward Beshara, managing partner of Beshara P.A. in Orlando, Florida, has exclusively practiced business and family U.S. Immigration Law and offered approvable solutions since 1983, representing corporate and individual clients worldwide. Beshara P.A. has represented foreign national investors and corporate clients in the EB-5 process since 1991, and has concentrated on the EB-5 regional center process for more than ten years. Beshara P.A. represents more than 100 EB-5 Regional Centers and EB-5 Projects in the preparation and filing of EB-5 regional center applications, regional center amendments, EB-5 compliant projects, investor due diligence and OFAC review, and legal compliance issues. Beshara P.A. continues to assist and represent hundreds of EB-5 foreign national investors in regard to performing U.S. Immigration due diligence on EB-5 projects, as well as the preparation and filing of I-526 Petitions with USCIS, authentication of the investors’ source and transfer of personal funds, U.S. Consulate processing or USCIS applications for conditional permanent residency, and I-829 petitions to remove the conditions.
Beshara is a member of the preeminent EB-5 industry organization Invest in the USA, and serves on the Compliance Committee, Best Practices Committee, and New Investor Markets Committee. Beshara has organized EB-5 presentations at the City of Miami EB-5 Regional Center, where he is a frequent speaker on EB-5 and immigration topics. He is an active board member of the Syrian Lebanese American Club, Florida Arab American Chamber of Commerce as vice president, and two Brazilian American Chambers of Commerce in Florida as a board member.
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz P.C.
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, Divine was asked by the White House to become chief counsel of USCIS, where he went on 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, Divine 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. Divine 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 and regional centers, Divine 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.
Divine appreciates EB-5 work for the way it brings together aspects of the entire legal spectrum. In his industry and client service roles, Divine 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, Divine enjoys collaborating with lawyers across firms and disciplines to effectuate successful EB-5 cases and the continued growth of the program. His firm has represented numerous EB-5 related securities issuers in SEC, state agency, and investor enforcement matters. He has been elected vice president of IIUSA six times.
I.A. Donoso & Associates LLC
With a background in global business immigration and mergers and acquisitions, and an interest in investment visas, it is only natural that Ignacio Donoso began working on EB-5 cases nine years ago. As the founder and Managing Attorney of I.A. Donoso & Associates LLC, based in Maryland, Donoso oversees a team of 15 professionals who primarily focus on EB-5 immigration matters. Throughout his career, Donoso has successfully represented a number of regional centers, and now specializes in representing investors.
Donoso finds the benefits of working in EB-5 to be two-fold. First, he has the opportunity to help extraordinarily talented and hardworking individuals pursue their dream to live in the United States. Second, 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 Donoso such a respected attorney in the industry.
Donoso 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, he has found that a growing stability in the program’s legal rules has enabled project developers and investors to better comprehend compliance with the program.
Not only has he proven effective in handling EB-5 matters, but Donoso is quite happy in the industry, which results in a high-level of responsiveness and dedication to his clients. For several years, he has been selected by his peers to serve on the AILA National EB-5 Committee with other leading immigration attorneys. Through his work on the committee, he has worked on providing analysis of proposed legislation, alerted the EB-5 community to new trends and policies, and sought to inform the industry to attain greater compliance success.
Charles Foster is Chairman of Foster LLP, one of the largest global immigration law firms. He is also the honorary Consul General of the Kingdom of Thailand. He received his Bachelor’s Degree and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas.
Foster is the founding Chairman of the State Bar of Texas Immigration and Nationality Law Section, Board member and past national President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and past Chairman of the American Bar Association Coordinating Committee on Immigration law. He served as the immigration policy advisor to President George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, to President Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign, and to Jeb Bush in the 2016 campaign.
Foster has been very supportive of U.S.-Sino relations, hosting paramount leader Deng Xiaopeng at a rodeo near Houston in 1979 and later as Chairman of the Asia Society Texas Center, hosting a dinner for President Jiang Zemin of China and most recently hosting a dinner for Vice Premier Liu Yandong. He was featured in an award winning film Mao’s Last Dancer involving a critical moment in U.S.-Sino relations.
Foster was the first recipient of the Distinguished Friend of China Award in 2000. He received four Royal Decorations from His Majesty, King Bhumibol of Thailand and many awards, including the highest awards from the American Immigration Lawyers Foundation and the Houston Bar Association. He has been designated a “Texas Super Lawyer” since 2003 by Texas Monthly.
Foster has represented individual EB-5 investors since 1990 when the EB-5 investor program was signed by President George H.W. Bush and Regional Centers since 1992, including the establishment of the first Regional Centers in the southern part of the United States. He leads the EB-5 practice group at Foster LLP with seven lawyers focused on the representation of foreign investors and Regional Centers. Since the 2009 Recession, the EB-5 program has become a critical factor in financing significant real estate and other projects throughout the United States.
Law Offices of Robert P. Gaffney
For more than 30 years, Robert Gaffney has been helping individual and corporate clients make the United States their home through family, investment and employment-based immigration. Gaffney 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.
Gaffney attended the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies as a foreign-language fellow in the mid-1970s, with a research focus on the political culture of post-revolutionary China. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. Gaffney 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 Gaffney 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 the 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.
Gaffney is a regular contributor to legal publications, frequently speaking on EB-5 and other immigration-law topics to business and professional groups. He has served as a mentor to many lawyers new to the EB-5 field. Gaffney 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 professionalism in the United States. A northern California native, Gaffney enjoys international travel, and participating in the wealth of cultural and outdoor activities available in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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, Gonzalez’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.
Gonzalez 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. He works with six other immigration professionals to counsel both individual investors and regional centers. He estimates that Latin American investors currently make up about 90 percent of his casework.
In the Florida office, Gonzalez’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 Gonzalez to grow his business primarily through referrals and to build niches in certain international markets.
Gonzalez’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, he 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. He wishes that every immigration attorney could have the chance to experience that side of the legal system.
Gonzalez 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.
Greenberg Traurig LLP
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. Hermansky 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, Hermansky 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, Hermansky 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. Hermansky finds it very satisfying to work on a successful project with tangible and profitable results, while also seeing immigrants receive green cards.
Hermansky 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, Hermansky has seen the EB-5 program bloom, with the players currently involved in EB-5 projects elevating the industry to a higher standard. Hermansky 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 Hermansky golfing or fishing.
David Hirson & Partners LLP
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 he debated and subsequently filed one of the first cases for a family from Taiwan. In fact, Hirson filed many of the approved EB-5 cases during the first 10 years of the EB-5 visa program.
Hirson 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. Now with more than 30 years of experience, Hirson sees the industry continuing to expand, and hopes 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, Hirson 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. He also attends trade shows, gives lectures, and establishes new ties in the EB-5 community during his trips.
Hirson established his own firm, David Hirson and Partners LLP, in Newport Beach, California. There, Hirson 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 continues to build their EB-5 team.
Greenberg Traurig LLP
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. Kalmykov 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.
Kalmykov 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, Kalmykov can personally relate to her clients, and she also finds a certain satisfaction in seeing projects develop from the ground up. She understands the 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 Kalmyko 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, Kalmykov 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.
Kalmykov writes for EB5Investors. com, EB-5insights.com and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New Jersey Law Journal, and on CNN, among other prominent publications. For the past four 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, Kalmykov is passionate about raising her five-yearold, yoga and boxing.
Prior to joining Fragomen, Parisa Karaahmet served as an Assistant District Counsel and Acting Deputy District Counsel for the Immigration & Naturalization Service, New York District. At Fragomen, she leads a team that specializes in individual and complex immigration matters and manages corporate accounts. Her area of specialty includes advising clients with respect to criminal and other inadmissibility grounds, employer sanctions, E-verify and I-9 compliance and enforcement. Additionally, Karaahmet leads a team that specializes in EB-5 immigrant investor and entrepreneurial visas, and is a member of the firm’s Worldwide Investor Group. She is also a member of Invest in the USA’s Editorial Committee and writes and presents extensively on EB-5 related issues.
On the corporate compliance advisory group side, Karaahmet represents a variety of large, mid-size and smaller companies in their immigration matters, including those in the financial services, medical, pharmaceutical, retail and technology sectors. She also regularly advises academic institutions and non-profit organizations in their immigration matters.
Karaahmet said the EB-5 field has changed significantly in the past few years. “The number of stakeholders has proliferated, but in general, I find that most players have become more sophisticated and better educated about the world of EB-5,” she said. “Recent events have demonstrated that compliance and ethics should be hallmark of every practitioner’s approach to this field.”
Karaahmet said her EB-5 practice primarily focuses on representing individual investors in their immigration filings, and she said she generally avoids representing a project and individual investor in the same transaction to avoid the appearance of conflict.
Karaahmet has been a faculty member/ presenter for the Judicial Institute at Pace University and a guest lecturer at Cardozo Law School and is a frequent speaker at national conferences on a variety of immigration topics such as EB-5 immigration compliance, I-9 business immigration matters, and criminal immigration issues. Karaahmet has chaired conferences and presented at panel events sponsored by the Practicing Law Institute (PLI), the American Bar Association (ABA) and others.
Klasko Immigration Law Partners LLP
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, Klasko leads a team of 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.
Klasko 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.
Klasko 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, Klasko 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, Klasko 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 Klasko 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, Klasko 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, Klasko 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.
David Hirson & Partners LLP
Nima Korpivaara, a partner with David Hirson and Partners LLP, joined the firm in 2014. Korpivaara is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in EB-5 law. He handles all types of U.S. immigration, including complex matters associated with corporate business structure and EB-5 investor applications.
Korpivaara practices in the fields of corporate, investor (E-2 and EB-5) and family immigration law, representing large and small clients within a variety of industries. This includes temporary and short-term work visas, business visas, permanent residence (employment-based and family-based) and naturalization. He is primarily an attorney for a dedicated EB-5 practice within the firm, which involves advising individual investors and corporate clients on the requirements and ramifications of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ EB-5 program. Korpivaara is recognized as an expert in the field of EB-5 law, advising numerous regional centers, developers, and project principals on program compliance.
Korpivaara has served on panels covering advanced EB-5 topics throughout the United States and Asia. He has also authored several articles such as “How to Become a Regional Center,” and “Direct Investment Private Equity Model” for EB5 Investors Magazine and has co-authored on numerous publications relating to EB-5 regulations and investments.
Prior to joining David Hirson & Partners, LLP, Korpivaara worked with David Hirson at another law firm, where he worked in the firm’s EB-5 practice. Additionally, Korpivaara worked in-house for a large information technology company, advising and processing immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, including extraordinary ability and labor certification cases.
Korpivaara is admitted to practice law in the California Superior Court and California Central District Court. He is also member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, the Orange County Bar Association and the Beverly Hills Bar Association.
Korpivaara received his J.D. in 2011 from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law. Prior to this, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Denver.
Lawler & Lawler Law Offices
Martin Lawler has dedicated more than thirty years to helping people build their lives and livelihoods in American. Working in the San Francisco firm that his father started, Lawler & Lawler Law Offices, Lawler first began working with E-2 investment visas, which paved the way for his entrance into the EB-5 sphere in 1991. He continues 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.
Lawler wants investors to have the opportunity to become part of the fabric of life here economically and to live in America so they can change their lives and that of their children for generations to come. He sees the EB-5 program as a vehicle to achieve this goal when other immigration paths are not possible. Visiting completed projects— and actually seeing people working the jobs he has helped create—is deeply satisfying for Lawler.
An educator in the immigration community, Lawler understands that the EB-5 program is a marriage between immigration laws, finance concepts, economic models to measure jobs, and more—all grounded in ever-changing governmental policy. Lawler is also constantly and proactively seeking more information about the EB-5 program. For example, he regularly attends the USCIS EB-5 stakeholder engagements, and recently he received answers to all three questions he put forth. He is a frequent speaker at EB-5 conferences and has traveled to engagements in China, Vietnam, Korea, and throughout the United States.
Lawler was also published by The Wall Street Journal, marking his third appearance in the publication. Additionally, he wrote, Professionals: A Matter of Degree, a treatise on employment-based green cards in its fifth edition. It is Lawler’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.
Miller Mayer LLP
Carolyn Lee is the managing partner of Miller Mayer’s EB-5 Group. Miller Mayer has counseled EB-5 project clients in successfully raising over $3 billion in EB-5 capital. Lee’s practice focuses on EB-5 Regional Centers, developers, funds, and investors. She has been practicing immigration law at Miller Mayer for 14 years, developing her EB-5 practice for the past 10 years. Prior to joining Miller Mayer, Lee practiced corporate law in New York City.
Lee is currently the co-chair of American Immigration Lawyers (AILA) national EB-5 Committee, and has previously served as Chair and Vice-Chair. She has served as industry leader in EB-5 legislation and policy advocacy, authoring and editing key commentary of AILA and Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the EB-5 regional center trade association. Lee speaks nationally and internationally on EB-5 and is the author of leading EB-5 publications, including EB-5 Regional Center Program Reauthorization: 2015 (PLI, December 2015), Material Change: Managing the Inevitable During EB-5 Visa Retrogression (PLI, December 2014), State Designations of EB-5 Targeted Employment Areas (IIUSA, March 2014), and Effect of Material Change Doctrine in EB-5 Deference Policy (AILA 2012).
Lee believes the most significant change in the EB-5 industry is its rapid growth as a significant source of capital. Regulators and Congress are playing catch-up, and she said the next step in the program’s evolution – greater regulation and oversight – could be achieved more efficiently if focus shifted to improving the program.
Lee is listed in the International Who’s Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers and in The Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of Immigration Law. She is a recipient of AILA’s Presidential Commendation (2015) and the Joseph Minsky Young Lawyer’s Award. Lee is a native of Seoul, Korea and grew up in Brooklyn. She graduated cum laude from Williams and earned her Juris Doctorate degree at Cornell Law School where she served as Chancellor of the Moot Court Board. She has been a visiting scholar at Exeter College at Oxford University.
Lee & Lee PS
Nelson Lee did not intend to be an EB-5 immigration attorney. In 2010, Lee left a 17-year career as a senior deputy prosecutor with the King County, Washington prosecuting attorney’s office to start his own law firm, Lee & Lee, PS, in Seattle, Washington. Like Lee, many of the attorneys at his firm had backgrounds in prosecution, without extensive interest in EB-5. Lee 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, he began working with several clients who had invested in failed EB-5 projects, and whose cases had been mishandled. Lee’s prosecutorial instinct caused him to ask how such problems could be prevented on a larger-scale. And thus his 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 guide them through the EB-5 process.
Now Lee leads the dedicated EB-5 team at Lee & Lee, PS, which focuses on representing investor clients. As a Chinese-American himself, Lee wants to ensure that the EB-5 investor’s first experience in the United States is a positive and successful one. And the success is clear in the results: although Lee & Lee, PS, is relatively new to the EB-5 arena, the practice has already submitted nearly 400 I-526 petitions.
When not representing clients, Lee spends his time trying to educate the local government and municipalities on the benefits of EB-5. He also 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 was 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. This is Lee’s second consecutive selection as one of the Top 25 EB-5 Immigration Attorneys.
Klasko Immigration Law Partners LLP
Daniel Lundy is a partner at Klasko Immigration Law Services, 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 him to EB-5 cases five 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, Lundy and his team have represented dozens of regional centers and hundreds of EB-5 projects, and have built an impressive track record. His clients include large and sophisticated developers. Indeed, Lundy 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 his substantial knowledge of the immigration rules and policies.
In the past several years, Lundy has seen the industry grow up, from producing relatively simple and straightforward projects, to multifaceted deals with complex collateral packages sponsored by major brands. He 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. Lundy is also a member of AILA and the Banking Committee of IIUSA.
Lundy 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, Lundy enjoys fishing.
Meyer Law Group
Brandon Meyer is Founder and principal attorney of Meyer Law Group, with offices in San Francisco and San Diego, California. Meyer Law Group provides the full range of immigration-related EB-5 services including Regional Center formation and ongoing representation, advising Regional Centers and developers on ongoing compliance issues, advising developers on EB-5 project formation issues, negotiating "rent a center" deals between Regional Centers and third-party developers, I-526 and I-829 filing template development and filing review services, as well as representing individual investors in both Regional Center and "direct" EB-5 projects.
Meyer Law Group, founded in 2010, is proud to have highly experienced staff who read and speak Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese, among other languages. Widely published in EB-5 Investors Magazine and other prestigious publications, Meyer is personally proud of the fact that he worked on his first EB-5 case in 1998, which was a "troubled business" project.
On top of his work in the EB-5 visa program, Meyer is experienced in all business immigration practice areas including E-1, E-2, L-1, H-1B, O-1, Outstanding Researcher, Extraordinary Ability, Multinational Manager, Exceptional Ability, National Interest Waivers, TN and immigration compliance for start-up companies and multinational corporations.
Meyer received his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of San Diego School of Law in 2008, his Masters of Arts degree in East Asian Studies from George Washington University in 1998 and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from American University in 1996.
He is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association and District of Columbia Bar Association, along with the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Meyer has authored a number of articles that have been featured in nationally renowned legal publications, such as Immigration Daily.
Peng & Weber PLLC
Elizabeth Peng is a leading U.S. immigration lawyer in EB-5 and other immigration strategies for Chinese investors and entrepreneurs. After earning her LLB degree at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing in 1983, and pursuing LLM studies at the same university, Peng won a Ford Foundation scholarship in 1985 to study law in the United States, completing her J.D. degree at the University of Kansas in 1988.
In 1992, Peng co-founded Peng & Weber, Attorneys at Law in Seattle and has since grown Peng & Weber into an East-West team of eight immigration lawyers highly regarded for excellence in a full range of immigration law services in EB-5, including establishing regional centers, setting up EB-5 projects, filing I-924 exemplars, and filing I-526 and I-829 petitions. Through more than 30 years of legal education and experience in both countries, Peng has developed deep knowledge of American and Chinese legal environments, business practices, cultures, and languages. Beyond technical expertise in EB-5 law itself, she understands the serious practical challenges facing regional centers, developers, EB-5 agents, and EB-5 investors.
A highly regarded legal scholar in the East-West realm of EB-5, Peng serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese-language version of The EB-5 Handbook: A Guide for Investors and Developers. She has also published eight professional articles on EB-5 and other key areas of immigration law in prestigious immigration law books and journals of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, and other professional immigration law publishers. Peng also frequently speaks on Chinese EB-5 visa issues for AILA, Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), Immigration Lawyers on the Web (ILW.com), Pincus Professional Education, EB5investors.com, and other major organizations in the USA and China.
Among other recognitions, Peng currently serves on AILA’s national EB-5 Conference Committee and is included in the 2016 edition of Who’s Who Legal: Corporate Immigration. She has also been quoted several times in The Seattle Times and other major media on EB-5 visa issues and other immigration-related issues.
Mona Shah & Associates PLLC
Mona Shah, born in the U.K., is a dual-licensed attorney who practiced as a Government Prosecutor with the British Crown Prosecution Service before moving to New York. Shah was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England & Wales in 1993, and was admitted to the New York Bar and the United States Federal Bar in 1997.
Shah has over 23 years of legal experience and extensive knowledge of all facets of U.S. immigration law; her practical expertise ranges from specialist business petitions to complicated, multi issue federal deportation litigation. Shah has handled complex immigration law appeals before the United States Circuit Courts of Appeal for the Second, Third, Fifth, and Eleventh circuits.
Shah’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.
Highly proficient and experienced in EB-5 law, the firm equally represents projects, investors and regional centers. Shah and her team also act as co-counsel for many lawyers who are just beginning in EB-5, and troubleshoot for both regional centers and attorneys. Shah was the original founder of the first EB-5 regional center in New York. Shah’s practice covers everything EB-5, from structuring and drafting offering documents, to liaising with overseas agents, to marketing overseas and filing USCIS petitions.
Shah has authored numerous articles and blog pieces in EB-5 and she is the author of a published book for investors. Shah regularly speaks at seminars worldwide, has been interviewed by mainstream news channels, quoted in major newspapers and has a series of podcasts called “Investment Voice.” Shah has been honored for her work by various groups and non for profit organizations. Shah is also an adjunct professor at Baruch University, New York City, which is the first city university to offer an EB-5 specialized course geared towards developers and practitioners. Shah is also a member of the Policy Committee for IIUSA and regularly lobbies in Washington D.C.
Darren Silver & Associates LLP
Darren Silver is the founding partner of Darren Silver & Associates LLP. Mr. Silver has a career of over 20 years exclusively in the field of immigration. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California and J.D. from WSU School of Law.
Prior to founding Darren Silver & Associates, Silver was employed with USCIS, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service, where he was able to audit policy guidelines and assist in creating field guides that are still in use today.
Over his career, Silver has enjoyed working within the different areas of immigration law with an emphasis in business and investment-related immigration. Silver has devoted the past 10 years of his practice to EB-5 law and is proud of the work that his firm has contributed to the EB-5 community. He has successfully filed over 3,000 I-526 and I-829 petitions. He enjoys tackling complicated and new fact patterns and always looks for the most effective way to garnish an approval for his clients.
Silver developed his interest in EB-5 work during the late 1990s. At that time his practice served many small, and then larger Korean-owned businesses throughout Los Angeles. The eventual growth of these business lead to initial EB-5 filings.
The EB-5 submissions grew over the years, and Silver was able to utilize his skills and experience into the Regional Center growth that would soon take over the EB-5 community. Darren Silver & Associates has earned numerous awards, including being chosen as the 2011 EB-5 Immigration Law Firm of the Year by the Artisan Business Group. The firm has represented several athletes, celebrities, small businesses, and large and multinational corporations.
In addition to helping individual investors, Silver has assisted developers and projects review possible strategies for their organizations and business enterprises. Silver has been a long standing member of both AILA and IIUSA. Silver’s firm is fluent in Mandarin, German, Farsi and Spanish.
Stone Grzegorek & Gonzalez LLP
Lincoln Stone has practiced EB-5 law for more than 25 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, Stone 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.
Stone 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 Stone 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. Stone received two separate AILA President Commendations for leadership and advancing the EB-5 investor visa practice.
Stone directs the investor and 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. Stone 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.
Stone 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.
Peng & Weber PLLC
Cletus Weber is one of America’s leading immigration attorneys in EB-5. He co-founded Peng & Weber, Attorneys at Law in Seattle in 1992, and over the past two decades has built Peng & Weber into an internationally recognized EB-5 team of eight lawyers providing comprehensive EB-5- related immigration law guidance to regional centers and project developers throughout the United States, as well as assisting EB-5 investors from China and around the world with I-526 and I-829 petitions. In 2015, for example, Weber served as project immigration counsel for more than $2 billion in active job-creating projects seeking to raise more than $1.2 billion in EB-5 funding.
A leader in the EB-5 field, Weber was elected to the Board of Directors of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the national association of EB-5 regional centers, whose members raise the vast majority of all EB-5 capital flowing into the USA. A recognized legal scholar in EB-5, Weber serves on the national EB-5 Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and has edited, reviewed, or written for many leading books on EB-5. Examples include: Editor-in-Chief of The EB-5 Handbook: A Guide for Investors and Developers; Senior Editor of Immigration Options for Investors & Entrepreneurs, 3d. Ed. (AILA 2014) (Associate Editor of the 2d. Ed. in 2010); and Invited Reviewer of the EB-5 section of Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook, 14th & 15th Eds. (AIC 2014, 2016), widely considered the “bible” of U.S. immigration law. He also frequently speaks at major EB-5 conferences in the United States, China, Vietnam, and other countries.
Among other recognition, Weber is listed in the 2016 Who’s Who Legal: Corporate Immigration. He also received an AILA Presidential Commendation for excellence as Chair of AILA’s National Board of Publications in 2012. Over the past two decades, Weber has been cited frequently in major media on EB-5 and other immigration law. Through self-study and numerous business trips to China over the past 25 years, Weber speaks “traveler’s” Chinese.
Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP
Bernard Wolfsdorf took on his first EB-5 case almost 25 years ago in 1993, saving jobs at a troubled business. Now with decades of EB-5 experience, the firm has assisted thousands of clients with all aspects of the investor visa program, from the filing of visa petitions, to assisting with setting-up Regional Centers, to handling complex motions to reopen, appeals and removal proceedings.
Wolfsdorf manages the 30-year-old Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP, with offices in Los Angeles and New York City. The firm files both individual I-526/I-829 petitions and applications as well as Regional Center applications, exemplars and amendments. The firm is often retained to assist with highly complex EB-5 cases, including matters such as Regional Center terminations.
Wolfsdorf enjoys the challenges of assisting clients entering the EB-5 arena for the first time, while providing value-added services for many of the most established Regional Centers.
Wolfsdorf brings much more to the table than just technical expertise. His firm’s extensive experience, together with his own immigrant experience, and that of his Chinese immigrant spouse, provides a unique ability to connect with clients.
In addition to his work on individual cases, Wolfsdorf is known for his informative blogs, webinars and public speaking focused on understanding the Chinese waiting line. He is well-known for his expertise in strategizing to prevent investor’s children from aging out of green card eligibility. He sees the EB-5 program as an excellent avenue for successful people to immigrate to the U.S. and to provide a world-class education for their children.
Among many accolades, Wolfsdorf has been named the “2016 Most Highly Regarded Corporate Immigration Lawyer” in North America by Who’s Who Legal that also selected him as “Corporate Immigration Lawyer of the Year” for six successive years from 2010-2015.Chambers and Partners rated the firm amongst the top 15 in North America.
Wolfsdorf is also a past president of the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) where he received the “Service Excellence Award” for his volunteer activities.
Miller Mayer LLP
Stephen Yale-Loehr, attorney of counsel at Miller Mayer LLP in Ithaca, New York, brings more than 30 years of immigration law experience to his EB-5 cases. Yale-Loehr 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.
Yale-Loehr is perhaps best known for co-authoring Immigration Law and Procedure, the leading 21-volume 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 Yale-Loehr at the forefront of their growth, Miller Mayer has assembled a team of 11 EB-5 attorneys and 35 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 250 EB-5 projects, helping its clients raise over $2.5 billion in EB-5 funds for their projects.
Yale-Loehr 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 to be successful. Yale-Loehr forecasts a continued growth in the EB-5 program, despite potential setbacks from the backlog for Chinese investors.
When he is not counseling clients at Miller Mayer, Yale-Loehr teaches an im