Updated at 5:33 p.m.
Two organizations that hope to fund Louisiana construction projects with money from foreign nationals have enlisted the lobbying services of Patton Boggs in Washington, according to lobbying registration paperwork filed with Congress on Thursday.
The Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal Regional Center LLC and Continental Americas Regional Center LLC are using the firm to lobby for them on a federal visa program that gives permanent U.S. residency to foreign nationals and their immediate family members. The foreign nationals generally must invest at least $1 million and help generate or maintain at least 10 full-time jobs.
Organizations interested in participating in the program, known as the EB-5 Regional Center program, must secure approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The agency hasn't approved either of the regional centers, according to its website.
Patton spokesman Elliott Frieder declined to elaborate on his firm's lobbying registration filings, and a Continental Americas representative didn't respond to a request for comment. But Patrick Harvey, managing member and founder of the transfer terminal regional center, wrote in an email that Patton is helping his organization with "federal and state regulatory, compliance and project development issues" concerning the transfer terminal.
"We engaged Patton Boggs because of their expertise in the federal issues involved as well as their experience and background in Louisiana ports and waterway," he wrote.
According to the Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal Authority website, the transfer terminal will act as a "catalyst for the emergence of an alternative North-South shipping route," creating deep water berthing for container ships and potentially opening a new gateway to the Midwest. Continental America's projects include the renovation of a hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans and the construction of a Baton Rouge mixed-use development, its website says.
The Continental America website carries a disclaimer in small print warning potential foreign investors that it hasn't received EB-5 Regional Center approval.
"While it believes that it qualifies for such approval, and that it should be forthcoming, the approval process is under USCIS control," the website says. "In the event that such approval is not granted, CARC's ability to demonstrate job creation on behalf of participants to USCIS may be substantially limited or impaired. Additionally, despite CARC's best efforts, there is no guarantee that an investors application will be approved, or that he or she will ultimately receive a green card."