Mr. Leon Rodriguez, the immediate past-director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), spoke at the NES Financial Innovation Summit, held on Thursday, February 2, 2017, at City Club Los Angeles. As a private citizen, Mr. Rodriguez was able to share his personal opinions and experiences with the EB-5 stakeholder audience.
A key point he emphasized in his conversation with the audience was the fact that there is a lot of power when a group comes together to voice its opinion to government officials. The EB-5 industry should continue its efforts to band together to have the U.S. government hear our industry’s voices and opinions as a single cohesive group.
Mr. Rodriguez also voiced his well-read support of the EB-5 visa when he spoke about the program’s unique ability to have a direct and positive effect on a specific geographic area’s economy. No other immigration program can contribute such a benefit. Further to this point, Mr. Rodriguez said, “There is little dispute that the program has attracted capital to the U.S. The dispute is whether or not this capital has had a positive effect on local communities.” He then shared the fact that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s report on the impact of the EB-5 program on the U.S. economy clearly concludes that the program indeed has a positive effect on the U.S. economy and adds jobs filled by U.S. workers. Mr. Rodriguez continued by posing the question that should be asked at-large by those who are questioning the program should be: does the program actually deliver all that it can? His response was that the answer is found in the Department of Commerce’s report: The EB-5 immigrant investor visa program does deliver capital and jobs to the U.S.
A few interesting notes that came from the rest of Mr. Rodriguez’s engagement with the audience:
1. Mr. Rodriguez candidly responded to an audience member’s question about President Trump’s recent Executive Order on immigration. The former director does not support a total ban of immigrants from any country, saying, “that is just bad immigration policy.”
2. Historically, some of the funds paid to USCIS as filing fees have been used by other government agencies for other non-case-processing programs. Fees paid by regular travelers to the U.S. could be used (and may even increase) to pay for President Trump’s proposed border-wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
3. Mr. David Hirson, Partner at David Hirson & Partners, LLP, was able to share his idea about adding an EB-7 visa program: high net worth foreigners, seeking to qualify for U.S. residency, would pay for public infrastructure projects. Their money would be a contribution to the U.S. and non-refundable.
If you would like more information about the future of the EB-5 Visa Program, integrity measures, or best practices, feel free to contact our experienced EB-5 team at David Hirson & Partners, LLP today: