EB5 Investors Magazine "Top 25 Awards Edition" Volume 8 Issue 1 | Page 34

TOP IMMIGRATION AT TORNEYS NICOLAI HINRICHSEN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE N icolai Hinrichsen is a partner at Miller Mayer. Hinrichsen has nearly 15 years of experience in EB-5 immigration. He represents regional centers and developers in structuring EB-5 compliant projects, either through initial regional center designation applications or by partnering with existing regional centers. He also represents individual investors obtaining permanent resident status through either regional center or direct EB-5 investments. Hinrichsen is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the New York and California state bar. He received his JD from Boston University Law School and his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley. HOW DO YOU THINK THE EB-5 PROGRAM SHOULD BE REFORMED? Two things must occur if EB-5 is to remain the viable immigration and job creation program benefiting the U.S. economy as Congress intended. First, the EB-5 industry must unite in support of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2021 recently introduced by Senators Leahy and Grassley. Second, the Biden administration must increase the number of visas allocated to the EB-5 category so that it remains a viable investor immigration option in historically robust markets like China and Vietnam. With the resulting EB-5 program stability from long-term reauthorization and renewed investor interest in retrogressed markets, EB-5 can play a meaningful role in a post-COVID U.S. economic recovery. WHAT NEW TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY? USCIS I-526 and I-829 processing times of 2 years or more significantly hamper the potential economic impact of EB-5 investment on the U.S. economy, as potential HNW immigrants consider alternative investment options offering faster paths to residency. Mandamus actions challenging USCIS adjudication delays are thus a welcome trend. Continued litigation-based pressure, coupled with changes by the Biden administration in Investor Program Office leadership, should result in more agency accountability and more reasonable adjudication timeframes. Likewise, the EB-5 program benefits tremendously from lawsuits like Zhang v. USCIS and Civitas v. USCIS that challenge legally flawed agency policy. DAVID HIRSON IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE D avid Hirson, Esq. has 40 years of experience in US immigration law, specializing in business and investment immigration. Hirson is the founding and manager partner of David Hirson & Partners, LLP, and he is internationally recognized for his decades of success in investment immigration, specifically EB-5. Hirson and his partners have decades of experience in advising individuals, start-ups, large corporations, hospitals, and universities in navigating complex areas of employment immigration. The firm’s business and employment-based immigration practice provides a full range of immigration services for all US visa types. Hirson also specializes in guiding franchise businesses who have foreign partners/managers. HOW DO YOU THINK THE EB-5 PROGRAM SHOULD BE REFORMED? The Leahy Grassley Bill introduced in the Senate (at the time of writing this comment) covers additional security for investors by adding protections to the program in an effort to minimize loss and fraud. It also extends the EB-5 regional center program for five years. This is good! What would make the proposed changes 34 EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE ideal would be an allocation of additional visa numbers and/or a recapture of any previously unused EB-5 visa numbers and/or a different methodology for counting visa numbers (one visa number to be taken per investor with the qualifying family members tagging on without utilizing any additional visa numbers.) WHAT NEW TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY? It appears from USCIS’ statistics that EB-5 cases filed have substantially dropped before COVID-19. Then, the pandemic caused further slowing. I anticipate the program will gain traction as soon as the pandemic is over, particularly spurred on by the potential upcoming 5-year extension of the regional center program. If visa numbers are substantially increased to alleviate the backlog of pending cases, investors will find the program more attractive. Adjudication time must be shortened, preferably to the 180-day maximum processing time. If all of this happens, I expect a surge of investors and additional projects coming to meet higher demand. I see the future of the EB-5 program as very positive.