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Now that the election is over and we know who’s running the country for the next few years, is it too much to think that we might get some kind of comprehensive immigration reform?  It seems that the time is right for a big change.  Presidents Bush and Obama were not successful in getting Congress to take action.  President Obama recently instituted some controversial but popular reforms on his own without waiting for Congress.  The fact that those actions may have helped him get re-elected has not gone unnoticed by Congressional representatives, who are likely to take action.  But the question is when. 

The federal government does not move at the speed of business.  So it’s important to plan based on current law, not on what might get through Congress next year or even later.  The legislative process can take months, and laws enacted won’t go into effect until even later, after regulations have been drafted and vetted.  It’s important to understand your current options and the timelines associated with them while you urge Congress to fix the broken immigration system in the future. 

Here are some ideas about options the hospitality industry can expect to have available for 2013.  The letter and number designations in the sections below are the government’s codes for particular employment-based classifications.

TN Status:  Canadians and Mexicans in some professions can get employment authorization quickly

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provides options for quick (often approved on-the-spot in less than an hour), inexpensive (as little as $50 in government fees), and long-lasting employment (up to three years at a time) of citizens of Canada or Mexico.  The candidate must satisfy the minimally-described educational requirements for a limited group of professions, such as accountant, computer systems analyst and hotel manager.  Management consultants are also possible, but don’t call someone a consultant just because there isn’t a NAFTA profession for the service you need.  For more information, see link

As a follow up to his excellent presentations at the recent hospitality forums hosted by Garvey Schubert Barer’s Hospitality, Travel & Tourism Practice Group, Gregg Rodgers offered to prepare today’s post on the often discussed, but horribly misunderstood, EB-5 program. Gregg chairs GSB’s Immigration Practice Group and is an important member of, and regular contributor to, our Hospitality, Travel & Tourism Practice Group. Gregg has represented those investing funds into their own projects as individuals and into Regional Centers, and he has worked with many potential EB-5 project sponsors (those using investor's funds to finance projects), including new hotel development projects in the Northwest, as they have evaluated their options.  Today’s post provides a great overview of the EB-5 program and its general requirements. 

Thank you Gregg . . . 

You may have heard about an influx of foreign investors into the “EB-5” program and wondered – what are they talking about and how can I get my project jump-started with it?

EB-5 is a short-hand reference to the “Employment-Based", 5th-listed process for getting status as a lawful permanent resident, also known as a “green card.” It was created in the early 1990’s, but only came into its own beginning in 2008, when the great recession dried up local funding for major projects. It was then that many creative developers and others realized that making changes to their business model could open up an untapped source of investment, resulting in the creation of a longer-term relationship between developers and investors, and a potential return for investors that included not just increased wealth, but a new life in the United States. “Regional Centers” have become the focal point of EB-5 investment over the past few years.

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Greg Duff
Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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