18 May Lobbying and EB-5: A Conversation with Akin Gump
EB-5 Investment Voice
Mona Shah & Associates Global Podcast Series
Reported by Sami Haidar
EB-5 Investment Voice is the only Podcast series that focuses on the United States immigrant investor visa, EB-5 and foreign direct investment. Mona Shah, Esq. welcomes guests from the industry, including: Developers, Regional Center Operatives, Attorneys, Legislators and Politicians.
As has been well-documented in the media, lobbying is an integral element of the American legislative process. Major lobbying firms are retained by interest groups and industry advocates of all types, and the EB-5 industry is no exception. In this episode of EB-5 Investment Voice, Mona discussed the role of lobbying in the EB-5 space with Hunter Bates and Hans Rickhoff of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Hans and Hunter, both members of the lobbying team employed by EB-5 advocacy group IIUSA, provided their perspective on the current sentiment in Washington DC about EB-5 and greater immigration reform.
As Hans and Hunter explained, unlike other immigration issues, EB-5 reform is not a partisan issue but rather, a geographical one – divided along rural and urban lines. Senator Grassley, Senator Leahy, Senator Cornyn and Congressman Goodlatte, four of the most active legislators on this issue all represent predominantly rural or broad swathes of rural areas. On the other end, Congressman Nadler of New York’s 10th District and Senator Schumer have a more urban leaning. This rural-urban divide amongst legislators and industry stakeholders has hampered reform. Hans and Hunter noted that lobbying within the EB-5 realm is also divided along these lines, with numerous regional centers, coalitions, etc. retaining their own lobbying firms. Finding common ground amongst these two groups will be the key to bringing about EB-5 reform.
Trade associations like IIUSA are valuable, as Congress greatly values consensus.
Hans and Hunter also provided insight on the outlook for legislative reform for the near future. As it currently stands, there are 14 legislative weeks between now and Election Day. However, with Congress currently at a stalemate on other immigration issues, it is more likely that EB-5 reform will arrive in the “lame duck” period of November and December after Election Day. Additionally, if USCIS follows through on proposed regulations, this could resolve some of the more difficult issues facing EB-5 and pave the way towards reauthorization. On the issue of additional visas, it is unlikely that it will be included in any reform packages in the foreseeable future. It has never been included in any prior reform proposals, and the current administration has indicated that they will not be pushing for an increase in the visa quota. With so many other issues on EB-5 at the forefront of attention, such as TEA reform and increases to the minimum investment amount, lawmakers are simply not focused on visa numbers.
Please see the link below for access to the podcast episode:
About the Author:
Having worked for over two years at Mona Shah & Associates, Sami Haidar has gained extensive experience with the entire EB-5 process. He has conducted research on EB-5 and its potential for use in infrastructure projects, with Professors Jeanne Calderon and Gary Friedland, two esteemed experts in the field. Sami is a graduate of the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University, with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Political Economy, with a Minor in History with Honors.