EB-5 Outlook for 2021 – Episode 132

EB-5 Outlook for 2021 – Episode 132

As 2021 opens, Mona Shah is joined by Leon Rodriguez (former Director of USCIS) and Steve Strnisha (Cleveland International Fund) to discuss what to expect in the coming months. With the administration change in just under a week and an unprecedented second impeachment of the current US President underway, changes are surely to come within the US immigration sector.    

Leon Rodriguez served as the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) from 2014-2017, following an over twenty-five year career as a prosecutor, law firm partner, and government agency leader. Leon is now the Co-Managing Partner of Seyfarth’s Washington DC Office. There, Leon assists clients in navigating complex and high stakes compliance, enforcement and public policy issues. His substantive expertise includes immigration compliance and enforcement, immigration policy, health care privacy and security, health care fraud and abuse, civil rights, diversity and inclusion and professional ethics. Leon also is a founding member of the firm’s Immigration Compliance and Enforcement Specialty Team, chair of the firm’s Health Care Regulatory and Compliance Affinity Group, and a co-chair of the Health Care Privacy, Security and HIPAA Affinity Group.

Stephen Strnisha brings 25 years of executive-level experience as a finance professional for both public and private sector entities, specializing in the structuring and execution of multi-faceted development finance transactions. As CEO of Cleveland International Fund, he is responsible for formulating and executing Cleveland International Fund’s strategic vision. He also fosters working relationships with public/private financing and development entities. Stephen’s dynamic background includes serving as former Director of Finance and Economic Development for the City of Cleveland. He also served as a mayoral advisor, CFO of Cleveland’s Chamber of Commerce and operated his own development finance consulting practice. 

  1. USCIS & Alejandro Mayorkas. The New Administration means a change of Leadership at USCIS. Cuban-born, Alejandro Mayorkas will be assuming office as the Secretary of Homeland Security under President-elect Biden, and he is no stranger to EB-5. Leon Rodriguez, who worked with Mr. Mayorkas, weighs in on whether Mr.  Mayorkas will begin swiftly rolling back the Trump Administration immigration policies and his attitude to EB-5.  Will we see changes in USCIS’ attitude towards the adjudication of EB-5 petitions with the new administration?   
  2. Legislative Activity. At the end of 2020, the EB-5 program only received a short-term extension until June 30, 2021.  More problematic, the program is no longer part of any “must pass” federal spending measure that -for years- protected our program from expiration.  Without a reauthorization by June 30th, the program expires.  “Congress has sent a clear message regarding the EB-5 Regional Center program – the program must be reformed over the next six months.” What to expect as Senators Grassley and Leahy reintroduce their EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act–what are the updates on negotiations with Congressional Leadership?  Will bodies like IIUSA be able to keep an expiration of the program from becoming reality?  Mona, Leon and Steve explore what the industry has been trying to accomplish with legislation and whether there is bipartisan support for EB-5.  Further, is S.386 / H.R.1044 expected to rear its head again, and if so, will there be an exclusion for EB-5? 
  3. COVID & Demise of the Big Players?   The November 2019 regulations, which redefined TEAs, have not been successfully challenged in the courts. Are the large urban developers, who once dominated the market, likely to have permanently left the EB5 market?   Will EB-5 be part of a massive recovery plan?  
  4. COVID & EB-5 Marketing.  As travel continues to be an issue, we are likely to continue with virtual events for some months leading into 2021.  Are there signs that the market growth is accelerating once again?