FAQs about EB-5 Regional Center Requirements

by Ronald Shapiro
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The EB-5 investor visa is a business-based immigration option for foreign nationals with significant investments in the United States.

What is the EB-5 investor program?

The EB-5 visa was created as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors, and is available for investors who invest a minimum amount of capital in a U.S. business. In order to qualify for the EB-5 investor visa, the following requirements must be met:

  • The foreign national applicant must invest at least $ 1 million in a new commercial enterprise or $500,000 if investing in a regional center in a targeted area in a United States.
  • The commercial enterprise receiving the investment funds must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers within two years of the investor’s admission into the United States.
  • The commercial enterprise receiving the investment funds must have been established after November 29, 1990.  If the commercial enterprise was established on or before November 29, 1990, it may still qualify as a “new commercial enterprise” if (i) it was purchased and the existing business was restructured or reorganized so that a new commercial enterprise results, or (ii) it expanded through the investment such that a 40% increase in net worth or number of employees resulted.

What is an EB-5 regional center?

Some foreign investors may be eligible for an EB-5 visa with a $500,000 investment, instead of the standard $1 million investment, if the money is invested in one of the regional centers designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as an area in need. Regional centers are determined based on policy proposals for promoting economic growth by creating 10 or more jobs directly or indirectly.

What are the advantages to an EB-5 regional center?

A key advantage of an EB-5 regional center over an individual EB-5 investment is that indirect employment is permitted under with an EB-5 regional center, whereas direct employment of at least 10 full-time jobs is required with an individual investment. Additionally, an EB-5 regional center offers the following advantages over individual investment:

  • The foreign national can live anywhere he or she wishes in the U.S.
  • The foreign national can work anywhere he or she wants or choose to not work
  • The foreign national’s children may stay in the U.S. and study in the U.S.
  • The foreign national can travel in and out of the U.S. as frequently as he or she desires.

What eligibility requirements must an EB-5 regional center meet?

USCIS defines a regional center as “any economic entity, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment.” In order to be eligible for EB-5 regional center status, the organizers of the regional center must submit a proposal to USCIS, along with economic and statistic support, showing the following:

  • How the regional center plans to focus on a geographical region within the United States;
  • How the regional center will promote economic growth in the specified geographic region;
  • How jobs will be created directly or indirectly through capital investments made in accordance with the regional center’s business plan;
  • The amount and source of capital committed to the regional center and the promotional efforts made and planned for the business project; and
  • How the regional center will have a positive impact on the regional or national economy.

What is the processing time for an EB-5 regional center application?

The applicant must submit his or her proposal along with Form I-924, Application for Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, in order to apply for EB-5 regional center status. The filing fee for all regional center proposals (new designation requests or amended designation requests) is $6,230. If the EB-5 regional center is approved, the applicant must also submit Form I-924A, Supplement to Form I-924, to demonstrate an approved regional center’s continued eligibility for the Regional Center designation. Processing time typically takes between 4 and 9 months.

How can an immigration lawyer help with an EB-5 regional center application?

Because of the specific requirements for EB-5 regional centers, it is highly recommended that applicants consult with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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