EB5 Investors Magazine "Top 25 Awards Edition" Volume 8 Issue 1 | Page 32

TOP IMMIGRATION AT TORNEYS ROBERT GAFFNEY IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE R obert P. Gaffney is a California State Bar certified specialist in immigration and nationality law. Through the Law Offices of Robert P. Gaffney in San Francisco, Gaffney has for over 30 years counseled clients in employment, investment, and family-based immigration matters. He is a frequent speaker at CLE events. His publications include Issues and Approaches to the Preparation of I-526 Petitions for Minor Petitioners; Practical Approaches to Lawful Sources of Funds Issues; and Country Specific Issues and Challenges in Representing EB-5 petitioners from the People's Republic of China. HOW DO YOU THINK THE EB-5 PROGRAM SHOULD BE REFORMED? Although the act is not perfect, it has the support of IIUSA and it is the only viable legislative vehicle which has the necessary bipartisan support to be enacted into law in time to avoid the tremendous negative impact which would occur if the regional center program was allowed to expire. The act deserves the support of all EB-5 stakeholders. Additional improvements to the EB-5 program would include the introduction of a “good faith” waiver provision which allow removal of conditions for investors in financially troubled projects despite the failure of the NCE to fully satisfy the I-829 requirements due to no fault of the investor. WHAT NEW TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY? Occurring on the heels of the large increase is the qualifying capital requirements under the Modernization Rule, the pandemic could not have happened at a worse time for the EB-5 industry as a whole. The full impact of the pandemic on many projects in the hospitality sector remains to be seen. The impact of the pandemic on USCIS and consular operations has resulted in long processing delays for adjustment of status applications and visa processing further exacerbating the already unreasonable processing times for prospective EB-5 immigrants. ENRIQUE GONZALEZ IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE E nrique Gonzalez is the managing partner of Fragomen’s Florida office and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. Gonzalez has 30 years of experience practicing immigration law. He provides legal counsel to entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals regarding investment-based immigration, including the EB-5 program. In 2013, Gonzalez served as special counsel on immigration to Senator Marco Rubio, where he was the senior advisor as well as negotiator for comprehensive immigration reform efforts led by Senators John McCain, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio. Gonzalez earned his Juris Doctor degree from Cornell University. He speaks English and Spanish. HOW DO YOU THINK THE EB-5 PROGRAM SHOULD BE REFORMED? After more than 25 years since its creation as a pilot program, the EB-5 category has proven itself as a strong contributor to economic growth and job creation in the U.S. For this reason, 32 EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE the program merits permanent reauthorization as opposed to the continuous short-term reauthorizations we have seen since the creation of the program. A permanent reauthorization combined with statutorily authorized program reforms, such as many of those seen in the regulations that took effect in November 2019, would keep the EB-5 program at the top of the class, among the residence/citizenship-by-investment programs offered around the world. WHAT NEW TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY? The combination of the new regulations that took effect in November 2019 along with COVID-19 has been a tough 1-2 punch for the EB-5 program to shake off. Though the new regulations were expected to have an impact on the market for EB-5 investors, given the increase in the minimum investment amount to $900,000, COVID-19 added to that impact, given that investors were now less willing to invest in certain industries affected by the pandemic that previously would have been a first choice. The EB-5 program has weathered other storms and should be able to weather this one as well.