Top EB-5 Issues and the Attraction of Rural TEAs, with Kate Kalmykov -

Top EB-5 Issues and the Attraction of Rural TEAs, with Kate Kalmykov

Kate Kalmykov, co-chair of the Immigration & Compliance Practice at Greenberg Traurig, discusses important EB-5 issues, including the impact of the RIAs recent changes on investors, particularly those from India, China, and Vietnam. Kalmykov also discusses her humanitarian efforts on behalf of Ukraine and how listeners can participate.

Kate: Sometimes they push back on providing documentation. It seems outlandish. Why is the USCIS need documents from 15 years ago? 20 years ago? But if you provide a very complete case at the outset, you’re going to get the result that you want. So you have to follow the lead of the attorney. I think it’s important to speak to your immigration attorney because they can create options for you to do concurrent paths, whether it’s through adjustment of status filing or a business visa. They can advise you, and it’s very important that you stick with one, because sometimes we’ve seen clients going to different counsel and they’re giving them contradictory advice, and that can impact their filings.

Ali: This is the voice of EB-5 by EB-5 Investors magazine. Each week we sit down with experts in the EB-5 investment space to get valuable insights and the latest EB-5 news. Hello, everybody. This is Ali Jahangiri, CEO of EB-5 Investors, and you’re listening to the voice of EB-5. Today we have Kate Kalmykov from Greenberg Traurig. Kate comes with ten plus years of experience in EB-5, and she is actually one of the people that got me into the industry. Welcome to the podcast, Kate.

Kate: Thanks, Ali. Happy to be here. And it’s been 17 years in EB-5, but not to date myself.

Ali: I’ve been ten plus years and I can remember the first time I met you in Atlanta.

Kate: Yes. EB-5 Conference. It was wonderful.

Ali: The elite conference, I think it was,

Kate: Absolutely.

Ali: So welcome to the voice of EB-5. We are the predominant podcast in the industry where we’re syndicated everywhere, so people are going to be listening to all your answers. Kate And we got investors and developers and agents and the whole industry listening to you.

Kate: That’s wonderful. I’m super excited.

Ali: So, Kate, let’s go to 17 years ago. Where were you? Why did you get into EB-5 and give me the details?

Kate: I was at Greenberg Traurig, where I am now. I was the first year associate and I had a client who was on an E-2 and he was a very wealthy, foreign, national and the E-2 business was not continuing. So he said, figure out a way for me to stay here. So I went to the regulations and I said, Well, there’s this thing called EB-5. I asked everyone about it. Nobody knows how to do it, but we can give it a go. He said, All right, let’s do it. So he found a project invested in it. I filed the EB-5. It was 2005. There were 60 petitions filed total that year and it got approved in a month and a half. Then we applied for the green card. He got the green card. And it’s really funny you asked me about this when we got on because I happened to be on the phone with him right before I joined the podcast because we’ve now done EB-5s for all of his adult children. So it’s a very funny thing. It feels like family, but it worked since day one and it was a great alternative for people who wanted to sponsor themselves without an employer, sponsor without a family sponsor in the United States. And the business really developed from there from that first one.

Ali: Kate, this is good to know. So I know that you do webinars. I know you’re all over the space. And what are the hot issues that you think right now are pertinent to the listeners? What do you think? Give me your top one or two issues and we’ll just dive into one or two of them.

Kate: Sure. Well, I think the top issue for investors is the changes that they’ve experienced through the Reform and Integrity Act that was introduced earlier this year. I think the second top issue for investors is processing times, whether it’s a I-526 immigrant visa I-485 or I-829, the process is taking way too long. It’s having a real detrimental effect on the program and on the applicants. So I think those are the top two issues for investors, for regional centers. I think the RIA is also a top issue. There’s new compliance requirements and they have to comply with them, but they have to completely change the way that they’ve done business from the past. If they’re continuing and if they’re new into the field. There’s a huge learning curve because there’s so many steps that they now need to take in order to effect a raise. The second top issue I think that regional centers have to face is sourcing investors and sourcing capital. After the program was put on pause for nine months, which really shook the industry a little bit and confidence.

Ali: So looking at this on the investor side, I know that you have represented investors and work with a lot of cases. So how does that work? This RIA just changed a bunch of things and you followed your case before the RIA went into enactment. What happened or what happens? You subject to the old rules or the new rules.

Kate: You’re subject to the old rules. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t see certain new things trickling into the adjudication. In terms of requests, we see the service focusing on new types of issues in EB-5 adjudications that we have to take into account that may not have been there three, four years ago when we filed the initial I-526 in terms of beneficial things that we got from the RIA, both for old and new investors is priority date retention and that will benefit everyone who has filed previously because now they’ve also been grandfathered under the new law. So if the program ever expires again, if it goes away. They know that they will get a green card. They know that they can avail themselves of the innocent investor protections, which is very important for restoring confidence in the program.

Ali: Have you had new investors in the program since it was reenacted?

Kate: Yes.

Ali: And so what’s the real difference between the new act and the old act for investors.

Kate: In the new act? There is definitely more of a focus on providing a more robust source of funds. There’s a focus on providing seven years of tax returns. The service really wants the USCIS to review all of the diligence related to an individual and where their investment comes from, but they also now want to know what’s the net worth of the investor, what’s their total financial picture? Who are we letting into the United States? Likewise, for the investors, as I said, they’ve been availed of certain protections that they didn’t have previously. So now if, for example, there are I-526s is approved, but later on the project falls apart, they can still continue in the process and get their permanent green card, which people that had previously filed and gotten denials when a project didn’t go forward because it was delayed because they couldn’t secure a financing, could not.

Ali: So right now, as an investor in the program, are you better off being a new investor or are you better off being one of the old grandfathered investors?

Kate: That’s a tough question, Ali, but I think the answer is going to hinge a bit on where you’re from, because the new law created visa set aside categories. And so if you’re an investor now and you’re from a very retrogressed country like China, where you have to wait 15 years to get the conditional green card, which may not have been the case when you made your initial investment and you invest now under the new law, you can get priority processing in a visa set aside category, which is 20% for rural projects, 2% for infrastructure projects and 10% for targeted employment area projects.

Ali: And that’s where they’re getting their visas right now. So the set asides, the 22%.

Kate: So if you’re coming from a retrogressed country, if you’re Indian, if you’re Chinese or you’re Vietnamese, and Vietnam isn’t now subject to retrogression, but it has been in the past and it may be in the future, getting into a visa set aside category can protect you from a retrogression if it occurs.

Ali: I see. So if I invested in 2017 or 2018 and China had retrogressed for eight or nine years officially now it’s a couple of years later, I still have a six year waiting line. Now, if I filed a new case today, then it would be five years. Is that what you’re saying?

Kate: I’m saying it could be even quicker because basically you’re not looking at a quota issue. You’re sort of outside the quota. If you get into that percentage that’s set aside and you can just be subject to the government processing times without a quota line attached to it.

Ali: So in the market right now, you’re going to see some rural projects and some TEA projects and urban TEA and some rural so. Does it even matter right now? I mean, we’re not even retrograde, is it the 10% set aside for urban TEA. So we really don’t even need to worry about rural, Right? There’s no need for it, correct?

Kate: Well, thought is that most projects are going to fall into the TEA so they may exceed their 10% allotment. And if you’re investing in a rural project, there seem to be less of them right now in the market. You’re maybe more secure in getting into that 20%. Again, this is not going to matter if you’re not from China or India because you’re not subject to retrogression. But for other investors from those countries, they really want to get into a visa set aside category to allow them to process faster.

Ali: To jump bounce around a little bit. On the developer side, I was quoted in a recent event down in Miami to have called out the rural projects as rural goggles. There’s rural goggles you put on in anything rural looks good, but at the end of the day it might not be as financially feasible or financially safe as a non rural deal. So you tend to see projects in the rural areas being a little more speculative and riskier. Kate Or are you seeing equivalent project quality among rural and TEA ones?

Kate: So I think that’s a great question. And what I have been talking about is purely from an immigration filing and law point of view, I’m not a business adviser. I’m not a securities or corporate attorney. So I don’t offer advice on the viability of certain investments. That’s a very important factor that anybody engaging in EB-5 needs to take into account because getting into a rural set aside category, if the project fails or you can’t get your money back, is not going to be optimal for anyone. So you should always still consult with someone who can advise as to the viability and safety of the product that you’re investing in.

Ali: That’s obviously a great way to put a case. So you don’t recommend projects, is what you’re saying?

Kate: Yes, I can only analyze them to tell you if they’re viable for the green card.

Ali: It’s good to hear. Sometimes there is a confusion in the market and you and I both know that there’s a lot of immigration attorneys out there maybe talking about the financial attributes of a project versus the immigration. So it’s nice to hear that you’re focusing on the feasibility of the immigration portion. I’d like to jump in, but on the developer side, if you don’t mind talking about rural versus urban TEA. Are you seeing more rural or are you seeing more urban TEA what’s in the market?

Kate: I think it’s a mix of both, but way towards more heavily urban TEA. From what I’ve seen and I have not seen a single infrastructure project yet, and that’s probably because there is in the RIA a clause that says it has to be sponsored by a government. So I haven’t seen that yet.

Ali: So it has to be sponsored by a local government or like a federal.

Kate: Presumably it can be federal, state or municipal.

Ali: So a city can essentially come out there with a project and raise money through EB-5.

Kate: As long as it’s infrastructure. Yes

Ali: Now, if the borrower is the city, is that difference or does the NCE have to be the city?

Kate: Good question. I think that NCE has to be an entity of the city.

Ali: Okay. That’s interesting. I mean, it sounds like potential market out there. Is it 2% set aside for that or is that what you said?

Kate: 2% set aside, yes. And I haven’t heard of a single one. I know you get a lot of exposure to projects. So tell me if you’ve seen an infrastructure one.

Ali: I actually haven’t seen an infrastructure from a city come through. So but I do see a lot of rural requests and urban TEAs. So looking at the market and looking at Kate’s crystal ball, you talked about the numbers, the retrogression and the numbers of the countries. What is the current market you see and then what is the future market you see in terms of the major countries? Do you see China with the volume for next year or this year? I mean, give us your numbers.

Kate: Sure. I think the market has been slowly ramping up. Obviously, we had the pause while the legislation was decided. It was passed March 14th. It was supposed to be enacted in mid-May, and then immediately USCIS issued guidance, which was challenged in court. So there were further delays. So I think all of that sort of added to a delay in the market getting off the ground since last year. I do think that the economy worldwide is on shaky footing right now. And when that happens, it’s harder to secure financing, particularly for commercial real estate developments. And I do think that we will see more groups turning to EB-5 financing. At the same time, I do think we will also see more of an inflow of investors signing up from the program. China, of course, has always been a big player, I think, as China loosens their zero COVID policy. Many Chinese are maybe fatigued with some of the lockdown measures and they are seeking alternative routes to come to other countries. And so I do think that we will see a surge of them investing in the EB-5 space. We’re seeing a lot of interest in other countries, in Asia, in the Middle East and in Latin America. And my prediction, my crystal ball is a year from now we will see many more EB-5 applications being filed.

Ali: From what countries? Give me your top. We’re like the World Cup here at Qatar. Give me your top five. 1 to 5.

Kate: Okay. I think we’re going to see India, Vietnam, China. We’re going to see applicants from the Middle East, but they may have Indian nationalities. So we’re going to break those up as Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain. I also think we’ll see more Venezuelans, Brazilians and Mexicans.

Ali: So country number one being India for the winter?

Kate: I think so. And I will tell you, a lot of that has to do with the incredibly long wait times for a green card in EB-2 and EB-3 where Indians are oversubscribed and they have to wait anywhere from 40 to 60 years for a green card, especially if companies are engaging in layoffs and shutting down or cutting back on operations where there’s typically a lot of Indian H1Bs, we will see more and more turning to the EB-5 program as an alternative.

Ali: So India obviously has these issues with EB-2 and EB-3. How about H1B? I hear a lot about concurrent filing. Is that something you’re seeing?

Kate: A concurrent filing of the H1B and the EB-5, you mean?

Ali: Yeah. Is that, is that something or.

Kate: Yeah. We have many clients who wouldn’t do the EB-5 because they’re tied to their H1B employer, but they want to have flexibility to work for whoever they want or even they’re entrepreneurial and they want to start their own businesses. So under the RIA, a very welcome change was that if you are in the United States in another status like H1B like an F-1 student, like an L-1 multinational manager or executive, you can now submit the EB-5 and the adjustment of status at the same time, and that will avail you of unrestricted work authorization as well as the ability to travel internationally. So you’re no longer tied to an employer. And that’s great. And it’s also a great option for students who really want to gain work experience during their course of study, but are limited in doing so because of the rules related to CPT, OPT, and then trying to secure sponsorship for perhaps in H1B after their OPT runs out.

Ali: I hear a lot of people talking about and this is some of your colleagues, not mine, talking about, Hey, we lost 10,000 visas here, we lost in COVID. What is that all about? What does it mean?

Kate: Covid was a very interesting and sort of surreal time for all of us, and we saw closures worldwide of the consulates. And likewise, the USCIS was not working at full capacity. And so every year there’s 140,000 employment based green cards given annually, same thing in family based categories. And if they’re not used, you lose them. So when operations are closed and visas can’t be issued at the consulates overseas, we lose a good number of visas with no way to recoup them. So a lot of my colleagues, not yours, as you said, have been pushing to find a band aid to be able to get those numbers back because it’s not fair to penalize applicants when they had no control over this worldwide pandemic and lost the ability to avail themselves of those numbers, lengthening their quota wait times.

Ali: I see. That’s what they’re talking about. So is there a way we can file a lawsuit and get those back?

Kate: I think filing a lawsuit would be a great thing. And I do think that there is a very strong argument to be made here, and I would be happy to speak to my colleagues about filing that as a group, because I do think that fundamental fairness and the intention of Congress, when they introduced the quotas in the employment based visa categories was so that they were not wasted so that they did go to applicants.

Ali: So who would have standing to file this lawsuit? Would it be a potential applicant? How would you do.

Kate: The it would be a potential applicant who perhaps had a visa interview scheduled in, say, April 2020, May 2020, July 2021 in Guangzhou and the consulate there remain closed. And so they were stuck, waiting, waiting, waiting and still may be waiting for it to be rescheduled. So those types of people would have standing.

Ali: There might be something it would be a good idea to do, Right. I mean, what do you think?

Kate: I think it would definitely be interesting to see how a federal court would review that and rule on it. I think there’s very strong arguments to be made in favor of recapturing those visa numbers.

Ali: Yeah. And how many would they give us extra?

Kate: I’d have to look at the data, but it would be tens of thousands.

Ali: Okay. So there’s tens of thousands of visas we could get if we filed a lawsuit. Great to know. And you said you may be able to help with this. And maybe this is something we see in the future. So shifting gears again, if you don’t mind, you represent companies as well, right? Developers and borrowers. Correct. So let’s shift to the developers and borrower questions. There was new economic numbers that just popped out recently for census tracks that came out, I believe, December 8th, right? Yes. So if numbers change, how does that work? Can a project because, you know, we had bad numbers during COVID and places changed all around the US. There’s pockets of areas that became unemployment TEAs and some pockets didn’t. If you’re able to file immediately after this December 8th, how long does that lock you in to actually call that area TEA before the new census numbers comes out? I know this is a technical question, but a lot of places that weren’t TEAs became TEAs and I see this question popping up on our website. Can you help with that?

Kate: Yes. So typically we’d go to an economist. He would give us an analysis of this. And now under the RIA, we have a new process. When we file a I-526 with the government, we have to submit our TEA analysis. So the TEA to answer your question is going to be locked in for each individual applicant at the time of filing. Can it possibly change midway if the offerings been in the market for a year and the TEA data changes, it could be possible. We’d have to analyze it when the new data is issued.

Ali: There’s a new data issued every two years or every one year.

Kate: Good question, Ali. It should be every two years. But again, this process has changed because when we used to go through the State Departments of Labor, they would issue and change TEAs, some at one year period, some at two year periods. We’re going to have to see how the USCIS is going to adjudicate these, and we haven’t seen that yet. And we have also no, nobody I know has gotten a decision on a I-526 filed under the new law, which makes sense. Nobody’s been filing for more than really a couple of months. But it would be interesting to know as they only have 26 people working right now in all of IPO, as they’ve stated publicly, who is actually going to be reviewing the TEA determinations. We know that they have I-956 team, a I-526 team and I-829 team. But presumably an economist should be reviewing these TEA determinations.

Ali: Understood. So, Kate, let’s jump into problems with USCIS, potential problems that happen. You’re an immigration lawyer. I have a background in securities law and people on my team used to call the hotline for the SEC and get advice if there was issues. What do you do when you get stuck? What happens with this? Immigration applications. When problems arise, things get kicked back. Is there a person you can call on the line and say, Hey, USCIS, I need your help? What goes on?

Kate: I wish I could say yes, but the answer, unfortunately, is no. And this is always a really hard thing to convey to clients. They’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the US. They’re seeking this benefit. They’re waiting an inordinate amount of time to get it, and there’s no one to speak about. Or we submit information and then we get a ten page RFE back asking for much of the same information that we’ve already submitted. So no, there is no one to talk to per se. You have to respond to them. But we have found that in cases that are delayed and we file a mandamus action in federal court, that we have been able to communicate very well with the Department of Justice and the attorneys working for them. And they are communicating with USCIS, And we have been successful in getting those cases resolved and adjudicated. But on case specific questions, on outlandish RFEs and noise and even erroneous decisions, there is unfortunately no one to talk to. You have to go through the process of responding. And we have also found where they’ve been erroneous decisions issued. It seems like now the AAO is very much rubber stamping those denials. But then when we appeal to federal court, we’re seeing a federal court take a more pragmatic approach to reviewing the facts and actually seeing the arguments that are being made.

Ali: Interesting. So there’s no one there. You filed the case, there’s some issues. And in order to get them to move, you have to file actually case correct. You have to file a case in court.

Kate: Yes. If you have a delayed case or if you’ve gone through the AAO, you’ve exhausted your administrative remedies, which is a requirement under the RIA, then you can go to a federal court and request review.

Ali: How long do you have in the AAO to have it get a response? You submit a request and it’s like 30 days or

Kate: Oh my gosh, I wish it was 30 days. It’s a year and a half to two years. Can you imagine how long people are waiting? And it’s really unfortunate because again, it didn’t used to be this way. I have never seen processing times at any stage of the EB-5 process take as long as they’re taking right now. It’s shocking. It seems the consulates have, for the most part, gotten their act together and cut down their lengthy delays post COVID. It seems in other aspects of business immigration, which we practice in nonimmigrant visas. EB-1, EB-1c,EB-1a processing times are down, but in EB-5 they’re just extremely long. And I think it has to do very much with staffing issues.

Ali: Interesting. I think people are having staffing issues everywhere, right? I mean, there’s just another staffing issue in another organization, whether it’s government or public.

Kate: I agree with you. Unfortunately here, it adversely impacts people who have been waiting many years for a benefit.

Ali: Makes sense. So USCIS has a process in the you said the AAO process is a pre stage before the mandamus. Is that what it’s called?

Kate: Yeah, mandamus. So let me clarify. A mandamus is an action to compel adjudication of a delayed petition by USCIS so your case can be in process with no RFE, NOID or any action taken, but you’re going to be suing them to review your application because the regulations, for example, in an I-829 state that a decision should be issued in 90 days and we’re at about three and a half to four years of review. So when you file a mandamus action, they’ll review your case.

Ali: So why don’t you go on AAO But you said AAO comes first.

Kate: So the AAE in a denied case, not a case that’s been delayed, but in a case that you believe is erroneously denied and not correctly adjudicated by USCIS, you have to exhaust those administrative remedies.

Ali: But for a case that’s been un-responded to, you go straight to mandamus.

Kate: Yes.

Ali: Okay. And then the mandamus takes how long.

Kate: So you have to serve the government and file it with federal court, usually that takes a couple of weeks and then the government has 60 days to respond. And in most cases, we will get a response. in that amount of time it might be, hey, USCIS needs a little extra time, but you should get a decision shortly. It might be that you get an RFE because they need updated fingerprints, but you will see action on the case.

Ali: So, Kate, does that mean you go to the office next door, which is Bob sitting there and say, Hey, Bob, file this mandamus? What do you do? I mean, do you follow yourself or is there someone that does this at your firm?

Kate: I’m lucky that I get to work at Greenberg Traurig, and we are a large firm, 2400 lawyers across all different practice groups. And so I work very closely with our litigators. And we do have an immigration litigator on our team that does these applications for us. And depending on the court that we’re in, we have offices everywhere. So we’re able to find attorneys that are barred in most states, and they will enable us to file where it’s appropriate.

Ali: Good to know, Kate. And I know your partner there. You’re a shareholder and you have a team that works for you that’s just as important. But getting into the cost of these things and I’ve never really dive deep into mandamus or AAO, in my life, this is the first time really talking about it. These are details that you typically don’t talk about in events, I guess, or layman people don’t talk about. But it’s good to know how much is this? I mean, how much is the AAO and how much is the mandamus?

Kate: These are good questions, Ali, and my answer will not satisfy you. But I have to give you my lawyer answer that. It’s always case specific, Right? So if we have a very complex case with a million different source of funds with someone who may have had some kind of status issues in the past, that’s obviously going to be a much more involved appeal than someone who’s case’s rather straightforward. And the same thing goes for mandamus actions. The other thing about mandamus actions that I just want to throw out there is that you can often join multiple applicants in filing a mandamus action against the USCIS for a delay.

Ali: Got it. How often are you doing AAO? And how often are you doing Mandamus? One out of every 20 cases. One out of every 50 cases.

Kate: I would say the mandamus is are becoming very popular and they’re really picking up. the AAO, Fortunately, knock on wood, I don’t get so many denials, but I also do have other practitioners or other petitioners who have filed and gotten denials with other attorneys who then engage us to do these appeals and then, as needed, take them to federal court.

Ali: How many people work in the USCIS, EB-5 Division?

Kate: 26. They said that in a recent stakeholder call. They also did confirm that they’re trying to recruit and they have the position up on their USCIS.

Ali: Okay, Kate, Would you take a job at the USCIS? I’m just kidding. You don’t need to answer that.

Kate: That’s a good question. Well, all I can say is, with or without me, I certainly hope that they really do staff up because getting the processing times down is key to the viability of this program.

Ali: They’re probably on this. Listen to this podcast, too, because it’s really relevant to them. And I’m sure one or two of them are Spotify-ing this, streaming this on their phones. What do you want to say to USCIS? I’m Kate, I’m going to help you guys out, or what advice can you give them?

Kate: I would really like to see a return to more frequent engagement with stakeholders. I know there were some listening sessions, there were attempts at stakeholder calls. I think it’s really important to have these either monthly or bi monthly. I also think there has to be a huge effort put into training so people are adjudicating cases and issuing RFEs NOIDs decisions in a uniform matter. It’s very inconsistent right now. So you don’t know what you’re going to get when you submit, even if the facts of a case are not too different from previous ones. And likewise, I would beg them to staff up and to train up staff and even bring them in from other pockets of USCIS or DOL or wherever, because I really do think it’s important to get through this backlog. This program has brought in billions of dollars in tax free foreign direct investment into the United States. But investors don’t want to wait ten years to get a permanent green card. It frustrates them.

Ali: Good advice .So, Kate, here’s the kind of the question people don’t ask. And I’m asking this just to be a little controversial in our podcast. When you file a case with the USCIS for a petition, you put your firm name on it, correct? Yes. Do you think the adjudicators and the people at USCIS see a consistent work product from firms, or do you think they’re like, Oh, well, this is… Are they going to sit there in a pile on their table and say, Well, this is coming from X, Y, and Z, this is coming from Joe and this is coming from… We know what to expect here. Do you think there’s an advantage to going with certain law firms over others because of the speed?

Kate: I think 100%. A lot of the stuff that I have to do is clean up. Unfortunately, where somebody has filed a case, but they’re not familiar with the currency restrictions in the country. They’re not familiar with how to properly present financial transfers and things like that. And it’s very, very difficult and sometimes impossible to fix bad facts and bad presentation on an appeal because I can’t change the record it exists. So I think it’s very important to work with people who are experienced and in particularly in a lot of countries where it’s not easy to do the source of funds. I recently met with a former adjudicator from USCIS, and the first thing he said to me, it’s my first time meeting him. He said, Hey, I love adjudicating your cases. As soon as I saw the GT letterhead, I knew exactly where to look for what I needed because you format all of them the same way. They’re clean, they’re tabbed. You have the index and it makes my job easier.

Ali: I love hearing that. Puts a smile on my face. Kate, I met the right person and I know you’re going to say we’re the number one biggest and best platform out there. You don’t need to say it.

Kate: You are. Well, it’s true. I mean, when I met you, I could not even imagine all of the ways that you could get into EB-5 without actually processing cases. And you’ve become really the voice of EB-5. So the name of this podcast is super appropriate. From publishing the magazine to the website to hosting seminars to doing the podcast. I don’t know, Ali, if there’s anything that you don’t do, but I am constantly amazed by you, and I’m lucky to call you a friend.

Ali: Thank you. Well, listen, Kate, if it wasn’t for the early encouragement in 2012 when we were walking in the hallway and you’re like, Got to do this, I don’t think we’d we’d have taken the chances. I mean, it was it was a new industry back then. We were walking around with you at the hotel and you’re like, Hey, look, this is a bigger developer that just walked in and they’re the first time in the business. So I think it was probably right at the time where the first larger developers came in where we were walking around and remember, I don’t want to throw names out there to which developers I try to keep this anonymous, but I think you were alluding to 2012 being the beginning of the larger developer, the larger deals.

Kate: Yes. I mean, actually, I think it started in 2008, 2009 when we had that economic meltdown, which we seem to be barreling towards right now. Again.

Ali: Really is that when the big developers came in 2008, 2009, I thought it was more of the smaller ones.

Kate: I think that’s when the bigger ones started exploring, finding out about the program and slowly coming in. Yes, I think it really took off and it’s been amazing to watch you grow. So congratulations on that and to your team.

Ali: Appreciate it, Kate. One final question. I know we’ve made this kind of fun for listeners, which is really important to me because it gets monotonous sometimes with EB-5. We talked about the firm difference and what difference it makes for the firm to create an organized file and all that stuff. What is the other big advice you can give investors? The investors that are listening to this, I want them to maybe glean some facts on how they should. What advice do you give investors out there?

Kate: Well, I tell them sometimes they push back on providing documentation. It seems outlandish. Why is the USCIS need documents from 15 years ago, 20 years ago? But if you provide a very complete case at the outset, you’re going to get the result that you want. And so you have to follow the lead of the attorney. I think it’s also critical to be patient with the processing times. The director of USCIS has said it’s a goal to bring them down, and I really do hope that we will see that. So I think investors need to stick with the process, but many times they need to be in the US for either their business objectives, educational objectives and whatnot. And so I think it’s important to speak to your immigration attorney because they can create options for you to do concurrent paths, whether it’s through adjustment of status filing or a business visa. They can advise you, and it’s very important that you stick with one, because sometimes we’ve seen clients going to different counsel and they’re giving them contradictory advice and that can impact their filings. So I think it’s very important to have a comprehensive, holistic approach to filing for the immigration application.

Ali: Perfect. Well, a holistic approach. I love it. Kate, give me a little one, two, three minute synopsis on what you’re doing for Ukraine, because I want the people out there to help and hear about it.

Kate: Sure. So I’ve been doing a lot for Ukraine. My family’s from there originally since the war broke out. I think the effort I’m focused on right at this moment, it’s December 15th. Russia has bombed the electric grids. People have no power. They have no electricity. They’re cold. The elderly, children, they’re very vulnerable right now. So I am collecting, along with a host of nonprofits, cold weather, clothing to keep people warm in this weather blankets, hats, gloves, a thermal underwear, jackets, scarves. So if anybody wants to contribute, I have set up an Amazon wishlist. The items will come directly to me and I am shipping them to trusted sources for distribution on the ground in Ukraine. And I would really welcome anyone who wants to help in that effort. When I’m home and I look at my child, I thank God she’s safe and in bed and I just can’t help but thinking that there are kids and people out there that are suffering through this winter. And I do think that we have the ability to help them.

Ali: Is there a deadline for this one you need this by?

Kate: Ideally, we want to collect contributions by the end of the year, but if something comes in the first few weeks of January, we will send more shipments and get them over. This is a rolling need.

Ali: These are way people can donate money instead. Or do they have to ship something over to your office?

Kate: They can donate money and I will put it towards purchasing items from the list and provide them an accounting of it. Absolutely.

Ali: Is there a Venmo? Is there a 501(c)(3)? How do we inform the people that do this?

Kate: This is going to be done. You can send a check to me directly and I will purchase the items on the Amazon wish list and then provide an accounting.

Ali: Perfect. So either they send a check to you personally.

Kate: You can even send an Amazon gift card and then I will just pick out items and send them a list of what was purchased with their contribution.

Ali: Perfect. Or they ship goods to you. These are brand new goods from Amazon. Can they send an old jacket over or something like that? Is that possible?

Kate: Absolutely. You can send gently used clothing as well. Anything and everything will help.

Ali: Okay, so send it to the Greenberg Traurig offices in New York. The package.

Kate: New York or New Jersey at Greenberg, ten of our offices are taking part in this effort, which makes me incredibly proud. And I’m super grateful for the support my colleagues have shown in this effort.

Ali: Thank you, Kate. Appreciate it. And thank you for everything you do to the Community.

Kate: Thank you.

Ali: This has been the voice of EB-5 by EB-5 Investors Magazine. To learn more about this episode, please visit. EB5Investors.Com/Podcast to stay up to date with the latest EB-5 discussions. Be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you listen to the podcast and if you like the show, please consider leaving us a five star review that helps us out a lot. See you next week.