Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Culinary Implications of an Intellingent Immigrant Investor Policy

As we enter this season of extracaloric extravaganzas, it's interesting to note how ethnicities have crept into my holiday recipes over the years.  As much a product of my restless palate as the result of 25 years of constant immersion in new cuisines, the subtleties never escape me.  I wonder when it was that I first discovered that a few drops of sesame oil in the melted butter made the skin of the turkey a tad sweeter without imparting any Asian flavor.  When did I first curry the carrots accompanying a Christmas Day ham?  And when on EARTH did I ever figure out the desserts made possible with the once unheard-of Mascarpone cheese?

Adrian Ho is assistant editor for the Wall Street Journal's Leisure and Arts page and on December 11th, he wrote an incisive commentary entitled "Dude, Where's My Dumpling?"  In it, Mr. Ho, a Toronto-born Canadian of Chinese heritage, lamented the comparatively unimpressive Chinese fare he finds in New York City, having gotten used to extraordinarily good Chinese cuisine in his hometown.  He begins with the dumpling comment, but cites one specific example near and dear to me:

"The modest steamed barbecue-pork bun is, in my view, the pinnacle of Chinese culinary achievement.  At its best, the meat is slow-roasted, glazed with rich honey sauce and tucked into a sweet, pillowy white bun.  That the bread is fashioned like a fluff of cloud only beckons you closer to heaven.  Yet here in New York, most steamed pork buns are red-dyed remnants of swine stuffed in a soggy sponge."

Sounds an awful lot like the pork buns I've found in Miami.  Which is all the sadder given that, IMHO, New York's Chinatown offers the best Chinese food in the Continental U.S. outside of San Francisco. It certainly BLOWS away the Chinese food I've found in South Florida. Which begs the question: WHY is this the case?

Mr. Ho posits an intriguing theory: "The problem is that wealthy immigrants - Chinese or otherwise - have far easier options than to seek U.S. citizenship."  Essentially, he suggests that the creative base of ethnic cuisine fans out from the homeland and forms a diaspora, seeding new places with the best and brightest culinary creations...for the most part, outside of the U.S.  He points out that to qualify as an "entrepreneur immigrant" in Canada, for example, an investor need only shell out some $284,000 and commit to start a new business.  Three years later, that Canadian residency gets you a Canadian passport.

That, it appears, would explain Vancouver...eh? (Sorry...couldn't resist.)

He says that in 1994, when Yours Truly was slogging back and forth 22 hours at a time on Delta between Miami and Hong Kong for a paltry few EB-1s and L visas, over 44,000 Hong Kong immigrants moved to Canada...and 13% of them were classified as "entrepreneurs!  Another 12% qualified as "immigrant investors".   Although the investment threshold is 25% higher today in Canada, it is still a lot less than the $500,000 required from an EB-5 Regional Center investor.  But, then again, we are talking U.S. residency...and that is still the sweetest prize in the basket, right?

Mr. Ho points out -- and we must agree -- that not all or even most of those Canada-bound Chinese of the mid 90s established restaurants.  However, it is that educated echelon of any given culture which most demands -- and appreciates -- excellence in their ethnic dining establishments.  In other worlds, an an entrepreneur class craves the best of their cuisine, even if they can't boil water.  Show me a San Francisco dim sum joint packed with Chinese businessmen -- say The Four Seas -- and I guarantee you the food will be excellent.  (The culinary antithesis, of course, explains why you so rarely see educated Mexican professionals wolfing down Triple Stack Nachos and a Chalupa at the local Taco Bell.)

If I was an immigrant looking to move my family to North America today, as much as I love Canada, it wouldn't be even close.  Knowing what I know and living what I've lived, if I had the funds and qualified as an EB-5 investor, I'd find a way to get my family into the U.S. Unlike the Hong Kong businessmen who in the mid 90s flocked to Australia and Canada, pooh-poohing the logistics and relative complexities of a U.S. Intracompany "L-1A-to-EB-1" maneuver, today's foreign investors can get the best bang for their buck, I believe, by securing permanent residency in the United States of America via one of the solid EB-5 Regional Centers created just for them.

The momentum, of course, speaks for itself.  I am a man on an EB-5 mission and, one day soon, I will be able to find that Perfect Steamed Pork Bun... somewhere right here in Dade County.

Merry Christmas to everyone!  Jose



Friday, December 18, 2009

New USCIS EB-5 Memo Replaces 2005 Guidance


Folks, our intrepid Amy Link forwarded this "hot off the press" new USCIS memo which replaces the 2005 guidance we've been relying up for EB-5 issues these past few years.  I haven't read it and won't till next week but I will update you when I do.  Don't even THINK about ruining your weekend with this stuff, it's holiday time!


Download Dec 11 EB-5 Memo


P.S. Remember last year and the whole new I-9 and other regs which were released right around this time?  Couldn't this wait? What is up with the USG "Scrooging" us over yet again...?




Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staying Ahead of the Immigration "Aircraft"

When
I first learned to fly airplanes many years ago, an expression which I first found
to sound rather unusual would soon come to be a maxim inculcated into all future
training:

"Stay Ahead of the
Aircraft."  

Put
simply, "staying ahead of the aircraft" simply means the process of continual awareness of what lies ahead, not just in the next mile or minute but as far ahead as you can reasonably anticipate.  Another phrase was that one should "keep one's head
outside of the cockpit" (figuratively, unless you want to eat goosefeathers) to ensure that you could anticipate
anything which would affect your flight pattern and focus...anything Mother Nature, technology, or bumbling pilots could throw your way.

Early in my initial training, I learned about this first hand on the morning of what would be my first solo flight.  It was a beautiful day in Punta Gorda, Florida, and Greg, one of the coolest flight instructors on earth was in the right seat.   We were doing "touch and goes" -- a continuous looping pattern of landing, rolling, and taking off again, which is one of the key forms of initial aviation practice.  By this time I was flying the little Cessna 152 all by myself, and Greg was teaching me all kind of cool tricks, such as how to use the doors to turn the plane left and right in the event of a rudder failure...really cool stuff.

I was coming in for a landing, about 300 feet from the numbers, when I had my first "runway incursion"...meaning an unauthorized aircraft was on the runway.  The airport (at least back then) didn't have a tower, so pilots would self announce their intentions, keeping each other posted.  I'd been in pattern for awhile, announced my touch and go...and an airplane rolled out EXACTLY where I was just about to land.  Greg and I looked at each other with huge eyes and I immediately put the throttle back in full, eased flaps, and went about 50 feet over him as my instructor, a pious born again Christian, uttered the only expletives I would ever hear from his mouth.  As I ascended, the airplane on the runway started doing a 360 degree turn...scanning for other aircraft...while still in the middle of the runway!

Greg went BALLISTIC.  After failing to raise the offending pilot on the radio, he asked me to roll back to the office.  Turned out that the culprit was  an
eighty-something year old gentleman pulled out onto the runway on which I was
clear to land, oblivious of my imminent descent.  Turned out he "didn't like using the radio".  Go figure.  In any event, still somewhat startled by what had just happened, I was basically floored when Greg came back the plane, still bristling and said, "Ok, go, time for your solo.  You're ready."

I'll never know, as other trainee pilots do, whether the adrenalin and buzz of those next 6 or 7 touch and goes were purely do to my exuberance at flying solo or leftover from the hair-raising octogenarian-triggered emergency.  But it sure felt good.

Practicing
immigration law is a lot like "Staying Ahead of the Aircraft", and that's not as tangential a stretch as you might think.  When a lawyer does his or her job properly,
he or she is able to anticipate issues, problems, and even some semi-unforeseeable
circumstances which, if properly anticipated, can be more swiftly
resolved.  
Like
everything else, preparation and awareness are the main issues. 
This does not just mean taking clear client intake notes (enumerating not only
the specific personal data of the client or prospect, but the annotation of
tactical strategies and practical issues which could arise in the course of
adjudication).  It means using our creative lawyering skills to anticipate, re-route, and address problems...BEFORE they arise.

One real example:  routine family
visa case – clearly approvable – where the petitioner had been unemployed for a number of months.  A professional with a stable work history, 
there did not appear to be any issues involving solvency.  Nonetheless, because of the very strict
requirements of the Affidavit of Support imposed by the USCIS, we were
concerned.
    Anticipating this, supplemental affidavits of support – which
really opened up a whole new can of worms (for complex reasons)-- were prepared but not submitted.  But we had them ready in the event
questions arose at the time of the interview.  They DIDN'T, but if they HAD, it would have been resolved then and there...without a miserable client, more expense, a second appointment, and all the resulting hassle.

In
immigration law, "Staying Ahead of the Aircraft" means staying awake and aware to your client's specific and factual circumstances through reliable and continuous communication, awareness of evolving regulatory decisions, and a good understanding of the particulars of the client's plans, family, and objectives.


P.S. I've gotten a couple of you asking me "what happened to the Miata cam?"  Apparently the USG has gotten wind of my iconoclastic, immigration-dogma-smashing plans because Customs has intercepted my $15 USB mic shipped from the UK and won't release it.  Stay tuned.