Thought Leader – Immigration – Global Law Group
As the legal world is more global than ever today, immigration in the business world is an integral and essential part of strategic planning for international businesses, entrepreneurs and private clients. Talking about how to utilize the tool of immigration in meeting the needs of global citizens is Linda Lau, Principal of Global Law Group,…
As the legal world is more global than ever today, immigration in the business world is an integral and essential part of strategic planning for international businesses, entrepreneurs and private clients. Talking about how to utilize the tool of immigration in meeting the needs of global citizens is Linda Lau, Principal of Global Law Group, a US law firm.
How have immigration policies shifted in America?
The design of the immigration system was enforcement oriented, focusing on deporting status violators. There has not been much discussion as to the challenges involved by inheriting a broken US immigration system. Recognising the problem, the legacy Immigration and Naturalization of Services (INS) was restructured, splitting into three different service components: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), focusing on immigration benefits; Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), focusing on border inspections and Immigration, and Customs Enforcement (ICE), enforcing against immigration violations. The intent is that the global business community could navigate through the US immigration system with more business-friendly policies.
The US immigration policies has made noticeable efforts to accommodate the demands of the global business community as many investments now involve non-US owned real estate projects mushroomed in US cities. This is evidenced by the rise in applications of immigrant investors, international managers and aliens of extraordinary abilities in business or other fields.
What is the biggest and most prominent challenge businesses face when trying to obtain a visa and residency in the US? What would you recommend to overcome this challenge?
The biggest challenge is to change the mindset of clients by asking them to incorporate the needs of any related party and each family member. This way, we can join hands to navigate the various visa options as many considerations are involved in terms of visa types for different members of the businesses and each family member. This may include international managers, treaty investors, H1B specialty workers, students and interns, etc. Take the time to get appropriate referrals for proper counsel. Once I had a client who came to see me and told me I was the 26th lawyer consulted before retaining any counsel, I was glad she did not look for the 27th lawyer for further consultation.
What is the reason for successful execution of a project in US with immigrant investor funding?
Even though the EB5 Immigrant Investor program has been available since the 90’s, most of the projects have utilized EB5 funds from investors to finance their projects during the last 6 to 8 years.
Some of the projects I have structured resulted in better execution than others due to careful planning and the willingness to engage highly skilled professionals in the legal design phrase.
What developments are you hoping to see for immigration law to progress? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I would like to see an immigration system that has separate management and processing for cases involving investments, businesses, creative talents and professionals apart from other benefits so USCIS can be true advocates for these applicants.
Thus, trained adjudicators can stay focused in facilitating immigration benefits for economic growth. An example in illustrating this point would be that under the US immigrant investor program, creation of 10 jobs is required for each investor, whereas other countries understand that once there is infusion of foreign capitals into their economy, jobs will be created. If the US law and policymakers would be convinced of the same concept, unnecessary delay and erroneous adjudications could be avoided without the necessity to do an elaborate job count analysis.
Is there any form of common misconceptions on the knowledge of the US immigration policy which causes frequent (somewhat unnecessary) difficulty for your role?
The misconception that one size fits all is prevalent among clients. The US immigration application is a customized process. The actual application form is only 10% of the entire package with the remaining 90% being prepared according to the actual facts of the case. This is the reason that clients should be proactive and engaged in the process.
As a Thought Leader, how do you have to adapt the way you approach cases when dealing with multi-million dollar investors, in comparison to individuals or small businesses?
I consider all clients the same as each came to me for a check-up like seeing a doctor. I analyze the facts and provide a diagnosis and treatment plan. Thus, thorough understanding of the background and history of each client including projects is a must.
Can you talk to LM about a specific case you have dealt with in the past, to which you applied particular thought leadership?
There is always a child’s face behind a visa, as 9 out of 10 cases have families where there are children involved. When the dad must split time between his home country and the US to engage in his business activities, the children and their mother would be in the US so the children could pursue their education. I would explain to the parents the price the children have to pay in life when the family is separated in the pursuit of “happiness” and “prosperity”. Family culture and spirituality are core to sustained economic interests of private client families from generation to generation.