Eugene Chow has a diversified international immigration practice focused on the visa and residency needs of corporate clients, entrepreneurs and investors. A skilled immigration law specialist with more than 40 years of practice experience, Eugene is well known for his effective advocacy and creative solutions. The firm also has a well-established niche practice in citizenship matters, representing individuals who wish to relinquish their US citizenship and multinational families who wish to acquire an alternative citizenship
What inspired you to pursue a career in corporate immigration law?
I always took an interest in the lives of immigrants and the journey they take as they move into a new country. As a teenage immigrant to the USA myself, I was fascinated by the process of how people adapt to a foreign country and I took an interest in advocating for those who lack a voice as they adjust to their new environments. This interest led me to start a 40-year career in immigration law covering a wide range of experiences representing clients from different walks of life. After graduating from law school in the USA, I worked in a grassroots community legal services centre serving the indigent, then joined a boutique law firm that specialised in immigration matters ranging from family immigration and political asylum cases to business immigration, before relocating to Hong Kong in 1987 to focus on corporate immigration law for companies and high-net-worth individuals at one of the world’s largest global full-service law firms.
Which qualities make for a successful corporate immigration lawyer?
I think effective corporate immigration lawyers need to be agile in adapting to their clients’ needs. Instead of jumping straight to the most obvious legal solution, it’s key to listen to clients’ concerns and to be empathetic to their situation, before coming up with the most optimal solution, which may require out-of-the-box thinking or a multi-jurisdictional approach. In addition, lawyers should have a broad knowledge of immigration law, beyond corporate and business immigration requirements and categories. For instance, the generalised knowledge I accumulated across a broad range of immigration experience – from representing clients at US consulates with complex issues of inadmissibility to acquiring alternative passports in various jurisdictions – has really equipped me to advise corporate executives more comprehensively. In today’s unpredictable world, it is important for lawyers to be able to advise clients who face the most challenging and unusual immigration issues and needs.
Which case has been your most interesting to date?
I represent some very high-profile leaders and celebrities, and it’s always fascinating to help them under the radar on issues that clearly affect their careers, their personal lives and their families. I cannot really disclose the most interesting case I’ve worked on because of client confidentiality; however, it always brings a smile to my face when I read the front page of newspapers about their lives and how I was able to make an impact through meeting their immigration needs.
What do you enjoy the most about working in the immigration field?
I enjoy working with clients who are at different stages of their lives. Some are young people trying to find the ideal location to continue their education; others are high-flying senior executives who are trying to enhance their careers in the most tax-efficient jurisdiction, and some are trying to acquire a passport for visa-free travel convenience or to hedge against political uncertainty in their countries of origin. Every client who walks into my office comes with very distinct challenges and concerns that require personalised counsel to help them and their families solve some of their immigration issues. I thrive on this experience of helping my clients navigate the immigration process to get to their desired destination.
Why did you decide to set up your own firm?
I believe that immigration matters are better served by boutique law firms instead of large corporate law firms, and that is why I started my own practice. Many immigration cases require more bespoke advice, more nimble legal support, and customised and personalised legal solutions. I found that larger law firms sometimes get bogged down by corporate bureaucracy and that hinders lawyers from being able to move swiftly and effectively to help a client solve his or her issues.
How does Chow King & Associates stand out from the competition?
Immigration is a people business, and legal advice and solutions need to be customised to the individual level that requires personalised attention. As a small boutique law firm, I think I am better able to cater to their needs while providing multi-jurisdictional solutions. Ultimately, what we provide is a win-win proposition that caters both to the corporate clients and the individual’s specific immigration needs.
What are your priorities for the firm’s development over the next five years?
I actually don’t do five-year plans. I believe in being flexible to the market’s needs and I’m always excited about new cases and clients coming in with new challenges that I haven’t anticipated before and then providing real-time research, analysis and advice that will help them.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
My goal is always to strive to do better, and to continue to move beyond where I am. I subscribe to Robert Browning’s quote that “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” I am always looking for the next big, fascinating, complex legal case where I can make a real impact and difference.
Eugene Chow stands out for his “terrific work” and leading expertise in citizenship and immigration matters, both in Hong Kong and internationally.
Eugene Chow is the principal of Chow King & Associates, a Hong Kong-based firm specialising in US, Hong Kong and international immigration and citizenship matters. Mr Chow’s boutique firm represents business investors and corporate multinational clients with employment visas and permanent residence and also has a niche practice representing American citizens who wish to relinquish their US citizenship, as well as individuals in the acquisition of a second citizenship in various jurisdictions to facilitate visa-free travel, for tax-planning purposes or as a hedge against negative economic or political developments in their countries of origin.
Mr Chow obtained his JD from Boston College Law School. A member of the Pennsylvania and California Bars, he has been a California Board-certified specialist in immigration and nationality law since 1989. "Certified specialist" is a designation conferred on lawyers with substantial experience in a specialty field, whose ability and experience in that field have been favourably evaluated by judges and other attorneys, and who have completed approved legal education programmes and passed a legal specialty examination.
Formerly on the board of two non-profit organisations which assist immigrants and refugees, Mr Chow is a frequent speaker at immigration conferences internationally and a regular contributing author to many legal publications including the 2006, 2010 and 2014 editions of AILA’s Immigration Options for Investors and Entrepreneurs; the Global Business Immigration Practice Guide by the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (LexisNexis, 2012, 2014–2016 editions); Corporate Immigration Review (Law Business Research, 2012–2018 editions); and Immigration Law: Jurisdictional Comparisons (European Lawyer Reference series, Thomson Reuters) (first edition, 2013), now Business Immigration: A Global Guide from Practical Law, second edition, 2017).