From the City to The Hill: EB-5 Dialogue with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

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On an overcast Monday afternoon in a conference room sitting high atop New York City, EB-5 attorneys, developers and project managers sat around a large roundtable to discuss legislative issues surrounding the EB-5 program. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries represents the 8th District of New York, consisting of Brooklyn and a portion of Queens. An EB-5 proponent and important ally in the House of Representatives, Congressman Jeffries supports the new draft legislation and readily joined the discussion on behalf of both Congress and his constituents. An avid supporter of immigration reform in the past, Congressman Jeffries has previously collaborated with the New York Immigration Coalition and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement in his sustained efforts to bring comprehensive changes to the U.S. immigration system.

Congressman Jeffries opened the dialogue by emphasizing the extensive diversity of his constituents, a majority of whom are immigrants or children of immigrants, and the colloquial “American dream” that many of them share. This dream, Jeffries stated, “must be preserved” and included in the larger narrative of immigration policy.

Congressman Jeffries, astonishingly knowledgeable about EB-5, recounted extensive discussions with Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President. The Congressman emphasized that it is vital that EB-5 stakeholders come together and support sustainable changes to a program that will bolster its effectivity and availability by engaging the bicameral legislature. The newly drafted bill proposing constructive changes to the EB-5 program will be brought before the Senate in the coming months. Representatives and Senators alike have expressed support for the bill, and though the Regulations going into effect on November 21st are still an all-too-grim reality for some, it is imperative that we continue to support our allies in the promotion of the EB-5 program as it expands and metamorphizes.

The Congressman articulated the common concerns many members of Congress feel surrounding EB-5 investments and job creation, including worries that the program only benefits the wealthiest immigrants and that the TEA method has not accomplished its intended feat of allocating jobs to the people who need them most. Mona Shah (Mona Shah and Associates Global) responded by commenting on the largely partisan support the EB-5 community has received from Republicans, while some Democrats have voiced concerns that EB-5 amounts to a “visa purchase” program for the richest of the rich. Mona commented that the main recipients of EB-5 visas are in fact middle-class immigrants who have used their life savings/accumulations to pursue the American dream and obtain access to exceptional educational opportunities for their children. Nods of agreement swept around the room as others echoed this truth with vehement comments. Nicholas Salzano (National Realty Investment Advisors) affirmed that in his experience dealing with over 100 investors, the overwhelming majority have been what he calls “regular folk” pursuing their dreams of a future in America.

Aaron Grau (IIUSA) confirmed these concerns by emphasizing the need for a larger number of visas in the EB-5 program, specifically through terminating the method by which derivatives are included in the country visa cap counts. This would allow more visas to be allocated to individual investors in each country, bolstering the program which in turn stimulates the U.S. economy and creates jobs across all 50 states. According to a report released earlier this year, EB-5 projects were responsible for over $10 billion of capital investments during 2014-2015 alone, with more than 355,200 reported jobs created. [1]

EB-5 project viability along with economic impact outside of the project location was a theme raised by several in the room, including Bob Kraft (First Pathway Partners) and Nadim Ahmed (NuRide Transportation Group). This economic stimulation and job creation does not benefit a party line or advantage specific groups, but benefits the country as a whole by increasing foreign direct investment and burgeoning domestic markets from inbound investments through increased development.

Project developers, including George Xu (Century New York City Regional Center), John Lam (Lam Group) and Charles Abele (Hollywood Circle Development) expressed their concerns over the common misconception that the jobs created by EB-5 investments are not allocated to truly rural or high unemployment areas. [2] and emphasizing that though a project may be located in a particular location, the employees are commonly travelling from more rural or suburban surrounding areas. As Carolyn Lee (Carolyn Lee PLLC) pointed out, in New York City the employment pool is largely from the outer boroughs such as the areas that Congressman Jeffries represents, and these EB-5 related jobs have indeed been created for those in areas of high need.

We would like to thank all of those who supported this event and our continued pursuance of a brighter future for EB-5. We are truly grateful for those who stand by us as we re-imagine the future of EB-5 after November 21st, especially Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and his continued advocacy on the hill on our behalf.

Thank you for the generous donations from the below supporters:

Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP (Host)

A&J Capital

Advantage America Regional Center

American Dream Fund

Arkansas Capital Group

Carolyn Lee PLLC

Century Development

Century New York City Regional Center

Civitas Capital Group

Commonwealth Strategic Partners

Concorde EB-5 Advisors, LLC

EB-5 New York State, LLC

EB-5 New York State Regional Center

First Pathway Partners

Grand Construction & Development Group

Grau and Associates, LLC

Hollywood Circle Development

IIUSA

Infinity Group

Izzy Klein

Lam Group

Mona Shah & Associates Global

National Realty Investment Advisors

New York EB-5 Regional Center

New York Immigration Fund

NuRide Transportation Group

Peng and Weber, PLLC

PropMix.io

Todd Associates

Wilde & Associates, LLC



Endnotes:

Endnotes:

[2] The average American commutes 26 minutes each way, and here in New York that number jumps to 53 minutes ” stated one participant, quoting a recent US Census report https://www.census.gov/library/visua...avel-time.html

Reprinted with permission.


About The Author

Greg Siskind is a partner with Siskind Susser, PC - Immigration Lawyers. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, he received his law degree at the University of Chicago. He created the first immigration law web site in 1994 and the first law blog in 1997. He's written four books and currently serves on the board of governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He can be reached by email at gsiskind@visalaw.com.


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