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Robert C. Divine

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Robert C. Divine, leader of the Firm's Global Immigration Group and a shareholder who works from the Firm's Washington, D.C., and Chattanooga offices, concentrates his practice in business immigration and litigation.

Featured Videos

Baker Donelson Immigration: Robert Divine July 10, 2015
Process and Issues for EB-5 Investors July 9, 2015

Professional Biography

Overview

Mr. Divine has extensive experience serving clients throughout the world in the arrangement of all types of business-based temporary and permanent immigration status, including specialty occupations (H-1B, TN, E-3), individual and blanket international transferee programs (L-1), traders and investors (E-1/E-2, EB-5), medical workers, religious workers, labor certification, national interest waivers and extraordinary ability aliens.

Mr. Divine is active in the Firm's Government Enforcement and Investigations team and has represented and assisted employers and other parties in some of the largest immigration enforcement investigations and prosecutions as well as private RICO actions. He provides strategic advice and training for employers in their immigration compliance efforts. Mr. Divine also has litigated significant business matters, including contract, commercial, product liability, antitrust, ERISA benefits and business torts (including RICO, misrepresentation, Consumer Protection Act).

By presidential appointment, Mr. Divine served in Washington, D.C., from July 2004 until November 2006 as Chief Counsel of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the world's largest immigration services agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. From July 2005 until July 2006, he served as Acting Director and then Acting Deputy Director of USCIS, spearheading the USCIS Transformation Program, testifying in Congress about the E-Verify system, enhancing operational security, and increasing transparency of rules and procedures. In early 2004 he served as an expert retained to assist the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its congressionally mandated study on the expedited removal process. He has testified as an expert on immigration law for courts in the United States and abroad.

Mr. Divine represents many business developers in creating, managing and using "Regional Centers" that can create indirect jobs toward the 10 new U.S. jobs whose creation can give rise to EB-5 permanent residence for investment in the developers' projects. He is the elected Vice President of the national industry association of "EB-5" Regional Centers, Association to Invest in USA (IIUSA). He represents developers similarly using other parties' Regional Centers. He coordinates this work with attorneys supporting securities law compliance in offerings to investors, with economists identifying "targeted employment areas" and projecting indirect job creation, with licensed securities brokers coordinating offerings, and with attorneys obtaining U.S. Government (OFAC) licenses to serve investors from restricted countries. He also represents individual investors in obtaining conditional permanent residence and in removing conditions from permanent residence.

Since 1994, Mr. Divine has authored Immigration Practice (Juris Publishing, 15th ed.), a well-regarded 1,800 page practical treatise on all aspects of U.S. immigration law, which is republished each year to incorporate the constant changes in the field.

Mr. Divine is a frequent speaker on U.S. and international immigration rules, policies and procedures, and regularly appears before employers, investors, individuals, policy makers, other immigration lawyers and foreign governments. Click here for a transcript of Mr. Divine's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 7, 2011 regarding the job-creating effects of the EB-5 immigrant investor program and the importance of renewing the regional center authorizing legislation. He also authors numerous alerts on immigration-related topics, which can be found on the Firm's Immigration website.

Professional Honors & Activities
  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in Immigration Law since 1995
  • Listed in The International Who's Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers (since 2012)
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association – past chair of several national committees, past chapter chair 
  • "Big Brother" since 1978; past or present board member of Big Brothers Association, Boys Clubs, New Life Homes for [delinquent] Boys, Chattanooga Resource Foundation (ecumenical), Robert and Catherine Maclellan Foundation
Publications
Speaking Engagements
  • "PLI's 49th Annual Immigration and Naturalization Institute," New York City and Live Webcast (December 7, 2016)
  • Panelist – "Construction Monitoring and Immigration Compliance," EB5 Diligence (November, 2016)
  • "EB-5 regulations and policy guidance: Historical Review and What Comes Next," IIUSA's webinar (April, 2016)
  • "EB-5 Reform Legislation - What Happens Now?," NES Financial's EB-5 Innovation Summit 2016, San Francisco, California (February, 2016)
  • "Evolution of EB-5 Best Practices," NES Financial's EB-5 Innovation Summit 2016, San Francisco, California (February, 2016)
  • "Challenges to Entrepreneurs Coming to the United States," Practicing Law Institute's 48th Annual Immigration and Naturalization Institute (December, 2015)
  • "USCIS EB-5 Adjudication Trends: I-526/I-829 Petitions & I-924A Applications," IIUSA webinar (October, 2015)
  • "Revisions to the Visa Bulletin for Adjustment of Status Applicants," IIUSA webinar (September, 2015)
  • Moderator – "ILW's EB-5 Summit for Attorneys and Developers," Chicago, Illinois (September, 2015)
  • "Due Diligence on the Developer, Financing, and Related Immigration Issues," EB5 Investor Magazine's Fourth Annual California EB-5 Conference, Los Angeles, California (August, 2015)
  • "Employment Verification Basics and Developments," Federal Bar Association webinars (July, 2015)
  • "What's New About U.S. Visa Matters," Federal Bar Association webinars (July, 2015)
  • "Money Never Sleeps—Advanced Issues in EB-5 Visa Processing," AILA Annual Conference, National Harbor, Maryland (June, 2015)
  • "Immigrant Investor Opportunities" (April, 2015)
  • "EB-5 Issues and Opportunities," NES Financial EB-5 Innovation Summit, Miami, Florida (February, 2015)
  • "Late Breaking EB-5 Developments," ILW's EB-5 Summit for Attorneys and Developers, New York City, New York (December, 2014)
  • "EB-5 Industry Year in Review and Look Ahead to 2015," IIUSA webinar (December, 2014)
  • "Form I-924A: Strategies for Fulfilling the Annual EB-5 Regional Center Reporting Requirement," IIUSA webinar (November, 2014)
  • "Understanding I-829 Trends and the Bubble, and Preparing to File," IIUSA EB-5 Market Exchange, San Francisco, California (October, 2014)
  • "EB-5 Success Strategies Webinar Operational Focus: Ensuring Immigration Success," NES Financial webinar (October, 2014)
  • "The Impact of Visa Number Retrogression in EB-5 Immigration," EB5 Investors Magazine's 2014 Southern California EB-5 Conference (July, 2014)
  • "Performing Immigration Due Diligence on EB-5 Regional Centers," AILA Annual Conference, Boston, Massachusetts (June, 2014)
  • "Advanced EB-5 Issues: Direct EB-5 Investors," AILA Midyear Entrepreneurs and Investors Conference, Cayman Islands (January, 2014)
  • "EB-5 Escrow and Bridge Financing Options," IIUSA webinar (November, 2013)
  • "Exploring Capital Availability in the United States: A Discussion of the United States' Deep and Expansive Capital Markets," select U.S.A. 2013 Investment Summits (November, 2013)
  • "EB-5 and Visa Quota Retrogression," AILA webinar (October, 2013)
  • "Globalization, Technology, and Telecommuting: Does Where You Are Mean Anything Anymore?," AILA Annual Conference, San Francisco, California (June, 2013)
  • "I-829 Overview and USCIS EB-5 Adjudication Trends," IIUSA Annual Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada (June, 2013)
  • "Creation of the Regional Center," AILA Mexico Chapter Conference, Miami, Florida (May, 2013)
  • "Comparison of Regional Center and Individual EB-5 Investments," AILA Georgia-Alabama Conference (February, 2013)
  • "EB-5 Basics," Council of Development Finance Agencies' Intro EB-5 Finance WebCourse (2013-2016)
  • "Understanding EB-5 Immigration Laws," Council of Development Finance Agencies' Intro EB-5 Finance WebCourse (2013-2016)
  • "Impact on Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing and CSPA Age Outs," IIUSA webinar (December, 2012)
  • "State and Federal Immigration Law: The Crossroads of Unauthorized Employment," American Bar Association's 6th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, Atlanta, Georgia (October, 2012)
  • "FOIA Report," 2nd Annual IIUSA EB-5 International Investment and Economic Development Forum Laguna Hills, California (April 29-May 1, 2012)
  • Discussion Leader – "Creating and Representing Regional Centers," AILA EB-5 Conference, Nassau, Bahamas (April, 2012)
  • "The Machinations of Bureaucratic Action and Inaction," Texas Bar Association's Advanced Immigration Law Course, Houston, Texas (February, 2012)
  • "EB-5 Practice Fundamentals," AILA webinar (January, 2012)
  • "Creating and Representing Regional Centers," AILA EB-5 Conference, San Antonio, Texas (October, 2011)
  • "EB-5 and NeighborWorks," Southern Region Network Leaders Forum, New Orleans, Louisiana (July, 2011)
  • "Solving Problems and Issues Relating to AC21," AILA Annual Conference, San Diego, California (June, 2011)
  • "Multi-National Companies Doing Business Abroad: Avoiding Common Immigration Business Pitfalls," Employment Law Alliance webinar (March, 2011)
  • "Immigration Developments Affecting Health Care Companies," Nashville Council of Health Care Attorneys, Franklin, Tennessee (March, 2011)
  • "5 Immigration Developments for All Employers; 10 for Those Sponsoring Workers," Tennessee SHRM Conference Legal Seminar, Sevierville, Tennessee (September, 2010)
  • "Representing U.S. Businesses and Regional Centers," moderator, AILA EB-5 Conference, Boston, Massachusetts (August 27, 2010)
  • "DHS HQ Open Forum," AILA Annual Conference, National Harbor, Maryland (June, 2010)
  • "Professional Ethics in Immigration (Part 3): Ethics of Dual Representation" and "Advanced Issues in Worksite Enforcement," 7th Annual Federal Bar Association Immigration Law Seminar, Memphis, Tennessee (May 14-15, 2010)
  • "Interpretations and Implications of the January 8, 2010 Neufeld Memo on the H-1B Employer-Employee Relationship," AILA webinar (February 26, 2010)
  • "Correcting Government Errors," AILA webinar (January 26, 2010)
  • "Building Community from Diversity," Diversity Forum, Cleveland State Community College, Cleveland, Tennessee (January 22, 2010)
  • "Mergers and Acquisitions—Impact on Employment-Based NIV and IV Cases," AILA audio seminar (November 10, 2009)
  • "What Employers Should Know About Compliance," Federal Bar Association Chicago Chapter's conference on Work Place Enforcement and Immigration (November 9, 2009)
  • "What Labor and Employment Lawyers Need to Know about Immigration Issues," ABA Labor & Employment Law Section's Annual Conference, Washington, D.C. (November 5, 2009)
  • "Pathways to Permanent Residency," NAFSA Region VII's, Knoxville, Tennessee (October, 2009)
  • Speaker at various conferences in Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece concerning immigration policies on behalf of U.S. State Department Bureau of International Programs and coordinated with the Hellenic Migration Policy (September, 2009)
  • "Temporary & Permanent Visa Numbers & Strategies for Getting Them," American Council on International Personnel (June, 2009)
  • "EB-5 Immigrant Investors: Here And Now," ILW webinar (November 20, 2008)
  • "Workplace Enforcement," Federal Bar Association Chicago Chapter's conference on Work Place Enforcement and Immigration (November 17, 2008)
  • "Employer Enforcement: What You Need To Know Now," ILW webinar (October 9, 2008)
  • "Keys to Change," 56th Annual Mississippi Manufacturers Association's Convention, Jackson, Mississippi (October 1-4, 2008)
  • "The H-1B Lottery: Not the Only Game in Town," American Council on International Personnel (June, 2008)
  • "Complying with the New State Immigration Law; What is Required of Employers?," Mississippi Manufacturers Association, Jackson, Mississippi (May 21, 2008)
  • "Representing the Unlawfully Present Alien" and "The Impact of I-9 Enforcement and No-Match Social Security Letters," Federal Bar Association's Annual Immigration Seminar, Memphis, Tennessee (May 15-16, 2008)
  • "Conducting Self-Audits to Minimize Exposure and Ensure Compliance to Civil and Criminal Liability," American Conference Institute's "Worksite and Immigration Compliance" conference, Chicago, Illinois (February 29, 2008)
  • "Immigration Policy and Legal Issues: Are We Headed Toward a National Identity Card?," 3rd Annual Homeland Security Law Institute, Washington, D.C. (January, 2008)
  • "Weathering the ICE Storm: Immigration Compliance and Disaster Preparedness," Baker Donelson webinar (November 15-16, 2007)
  • "ICE Initiatives: What Employers Should Know About the Current Landscape," Federal Bar Association Chicago Chapter's conference on Work Place Enforcement and Immigration (November 14, 2007)
  • "Updates from USCIS HQ and Service Centers Regarding Transformation, Bispecialization, Premium Processing and E-filing Regulatory and Policy Developments," PLI Immigration Program, New York, New York (October 9, 2007)
  • "Crossing the Border: Update from the Department of State, Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Visit," American Council on International Personnel (June, 2007)

Awards

Education

  • Vanderbilt University School of Law, J.D., 1985
  • University of North Carolina, B.A., 1982
  • The McCallie School, 1978

Admissions

  • Tennessee, 1988
  • North Carolina (Inactive)

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