Ten On The Weekend is a weekly feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each weekend, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.
Our guest this weekend is Matthew Galati of The Galati Law Firm.
How do you spend your weekends?
We have two rowdy young boys in the house so I certainly don’t get to sleep in! Pre-COVID, the focus was travel, whether to see family in Europe or around the US. Nowadays, not so much. I love fall, so this time of year I try to get outside and go for long runs since the weather in Philadelphia is beautiful and temperatures are perfect, as opposed to the extremes in winter and summer. But, unfortunately, we only have that for a few more weeks.
What are your top three business goals this year?
So far, we have had some great success in litigation against USCIS for their practices of delays and denials. I am not sure what the agency was doing in 2019, but it didn’t seem to be adjudicating cases in good faith. Processing times were exploding overnight. The prevailing message in the immigration bar was that nothing could be done for cases that were pending within standard processing times. By the end of the year, it became clear that suing the government in federal court was the way to get things done. At first, getting cases approved after filing suit was relatively straightforward and easy. But then came the pushback as the government used its – in my opinion, artificially inflated and highly questionable – processing times as a defense.
About six weeks ago my co-counsel Brad Banias and I received a great decision in Raju v. Cuccinelli, and as part of that holding the Court said “An unreasonable delay that applies to every applicant is still unreasonable.” That was amazing vindication of the work we were doing and with that precedent now in hand, I want to first and foremost keep fighting to hold the government accountable in the coming year. Many of the investors put their life savings into EB-5.
Aside from that, it’s clear that focusing solely on the transactional part EB-5 is not sustainable for the near future, especially as demand has plummeted thanks in part to new capital minimums and those elongating processing times. Our team has already started pivoting to offer our networks more options, such as Europe or the Caribbean, which might be better fits for some families.
Opening an office abroad would be nice too.
What’s your biggest business concern right now?
I am answering this question in October 2020, in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic and the most chaotic presidential election in the history of the United States. Every headline these days is a business concern, unfortunately.
But, of course, challenges can bring about opportunities. One item of particular note – and kudos to your coverage focusing on this — is the idea that large numbers of Americans could soon be looking to use investment migration as a Plan B or perhaps even a Plan A. I think there could be enormous opportunities there.
Which book is on your night-stand right now?
Nothing on the nightstand, everything is on Kindle these days.
I tend to gravitate towards books that fuel personal development, but not the gimmicky types. At the moment I am reading Ray Dalio’s Principles. The last fiction book I read was Robert Graves’ classic I, Claudius. I have always loved Roman history.
How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?
I started in early 2011, less than a year out of law school. I had wanted to be a civil litigator but after sponsoring my wife for a Green Card and handling that process myself, I found practicing immigration law to be more rewarding. It generally has less blood and drama than a car crash case.
The economy was awful, but I was lucky to be hired by Klasko Rulon Stock & Seltzer, LLP (now Klasko Immigration Partners) and right around that time EB-5 was really starting to heat up. Ron has made tremendous contributions to the EB-5 world and deserves a lot of credit. Being there in the early 2010s, with the talented team we had, was an amazing experience that taught me so much.
What was your proudest moment as a service provider?
It’s impossible to frame it as a moment, but rather a recurring series of one thing in particular. For the past few years, the majority of my clients have been Indian, and most have been in the US for many years because the wait time for an employer-sponsored green card can be extremely long. Some analyses predict 50-100 years due to per-country quota limits.
When I find out that an EB-5 case was approved, I try to call the client right away. Some clients, especially those who have been stuck in the backlogs for so long, start crying in joy. It’s a beautiful thing and it reminds me of how we are changing families’ lives through the work that we do.
Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
The new EB-5 regulations went into effect on Nov. 21, 2019. The latest data published by USCIS showed that only 21 new cases were filed in the following quarter. That is bleak. I am confident the EB-5 market will recover, but it will certainly not be overnight.
If you could go 10 years back in time, what business decision would you change?
I wouldn’t change my work history or experiences because they made me who I am today. I consider myself so extremely lucky to have had amazing bosses/mentors all along the way.
What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
That’s a really hard question because there are many. I’ll mention one; I think that when it comes to the overall success of modern EB-5, really bringing about what we all understand the program to be today, perhaps no one deserves more credit than CanAm Enterprise’s CEO Tom Rosenfeld. He was instrumental in developing the loan model of capital deployment as well as opening China’s doors to the program, which fueled tremendous growth over the last decade.
If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?
Writing a follow-up interview but from a nice beach.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.