Kate Kalmykov, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, works with businesses on their most crucial immigration and compliance issues. She represents employers in compliance audits with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Labor, and USCIS, or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
She also has deep experience working on matters related to the EB-5 Immigration Investor Program.
A Russian-Jewish immigrant herself, Kalmykov has always had a particular interest in immigration issues. She was especially drawn to the employment aspect of immigration after working with the nonprofit group Americans for Cultural Exchange during undergrad at The American University.
Lawdragon: What drew you to this type of work, Kate?
Kate Kalmykov: I am an immigrant myself and was always drawn to immigration issues.
LD: That makes sense. And why employment?
KK: Assisting employers in meeting their workforce hiring needs and ensuring they are compliant with the requirements of various federal agencies has always been a passion of mine. Interacting with employers and their workforce to meet their business objectives is always a professional achievement for me.
LD: Do you have a particular matter that stands out as a highlight in your career?
KK: I have structured over $12B in EB-5 funding for various businesses and real estate projects across the U.S. and seeing the reality of those unique projects come to fruition has been the highlight of my career.
LD: How has your practice shifted during the pandemic?
KK: Helping employers plan, maintain their workforce, and ensure their compliance during Covid-19 and the switch to predominantly remote work has been a new challenge this year and one which required innovative strategies and out-of-the-box thinking.
LD: Are you seeing any other trends in the employment practice at the moment?
KK: There has definitely been an increase in worksite employment matters, particularly I-9 audits, that have kept me very busy. Likewise, there have been many changes this year to immigration as a field particularly with the Covid-related Presidential proclamations which have required new ways of planning and advising clients in meeting their workforce needs.
LD: Can you tell us about a recent win or successful resolution?
KK: During a recent Immigration and Customs compliance audit, we were able to successfully minimize liabilities, avoid financial penalties, and help clients to remediate I-9s.
LD: Did the pandemic make that more difficult?
KK: Yes, it was a new challenge working to remediate I-9 files remotely and corresponding with the client to ensure proper record keeping during Covid-19.
It just goes to show that even during the most unusual circumstances we can assist clients, train them for proper compliance, and correspond with the government just as effectively remotely as we did previously during in person meetings and on-site reviews.
LD: Did any experience from undergrad impact your decision to go into law, and immigration law specifically?
KK: My undergraduate degree was in international relations and this really deepened my interest in immigration issues and prepared to travel the globe to meet with clients from all over the world and be able to effectively communicate and successfully meet their goals.
LD: What sort of work were you doing during school?
KK: As an undergraduate, I worked for a non-profit in Washington, DC, which helped bring students to the U.S. on J-1 exchange programs. I travelled overseas, met with students, and prepared them for the exchange programs. This fueled my desire to go to law school and participate from the immigration legal side as an advocate for companies and individuals seeking to come to the U.S. to pursue employment opportunities.
LD: How did you choose your school law?
KK: I chose Washington College of Law at American University precisely because of its focus on immigration and international legal issues. I traveled abroad and spent a semester in Europe learning comparative law and loved every minute of it.
LD: And you knew back then you wanted to do immigration employment law?
KK: Yes, and it has been even more interesting and exciting than I could have imagined. I got to work on very unique matters because of changes in the economy and really develop an immigration practice that has become nationally recognized across a wide variety of industries.
LD: Do you remember a stand-out class from your time there?
KK: Immigration Law and Immigration Clinic where I got to represent clients as a student really solidified my desire to practice in the area.
LD: Did you have any mentors when you first started practicing?
KK: When I was a first year associate at Greenberg Traurig, I remember our leadership at the time, in particular our Chairman and CEO at the time, Cesar Alvarez and Richard Rosenbaum, would always speak about being a “3D lawyer” during firm events and meetings. This meant not just being the best lawyer possible and guiding your clients through legal requirements and the nuances associated with the law, but also being a lawyer who understood the realities of business. This concept stuck with me throughout my career until today. It has helped me work with clients to develop solutions to adapt to their business and legal needs, be nimble in a changing landscape of law, and to seek unique solutions to problems within the framework of the law. I will always be grateful for this outlook and perspective.
LD: Has your practice changed significantly since the start of your career?
KK: My practice has evolved in various ways. Initially, I focused on work associated with preparing and obtaining non-immigrant work visas for employers and individuals, as well as green cards for their workforce. That in turn also led me to hone my skills in compliance with federal employment eligibility requirements, and to working and representing clients in government investigations.
The economic crisis of 2008 also gave me an opportunity to further develop my skills in the EB-5 immigrant investor program, where I not only represented foreign investors in obtaining their green cards through the investment of funds and job creation in the United States, but also to representing various organizations, funds and developers in raising billions of dollars in EB-5 capital to fund various development projects across the country.
LD: Do you have a favorite client or matter from over the years?
KK: I helped to structure and represent a client in the largest development and EB-5 raise in the U.S. at the time. This was extremely challenging and exciting.
LD: What do you do for fun when you’re outside of the office?
KK: I love being a mom to my 9 year old daughter and traveling with her to explore new places.
LD: Will you tell our readers about the good work you’re doing with COJECO?
KK: I am currently the President of the Board of COJECO, an organization that represents the Russian speaking Jewish community in the New York and New Jersey area. I find it incredibly rewarding to work with this great organization that helps to develop programming as well as fund and support the Russian-speaking Jewish community. COJECO hosts a number of unique programs to support children, the elderly, young professionals, holocaust survivors, and families.
LD: If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be doing now?
KK: I would have gone to culinary school and become a chef. I love to cook!