An EB-5 Regional Center is a service organization that creates capital investment projects for EB-5 investor visa applicants.
These immigrants, known as EB-5 Investors, use Regional Centers to wisely invest capital so they can more easily meet the immigration requirements of the EB-5 Visa.
Some of those requirements, such as creating 10 full-time jobs, can be difficult to meet without the help of an EB-5 Regional Center.
If you are a potential EB-5 Investor, investing through a Regional Center may improve the chances of a successful application and investment.
Editor’s Note: The EB-5 is currently undergoing some turbulence due to litigation and discussion over the minimum investment amounts and the expiration of the EB-5 regional center program. Please consult with an attorney immediately to get the current facts about the EB-5 program, as this article may not be up to date due to the inherently volatile nature of the program over the past few months. Thank you!
What Do EB-5 Regional Centers Do?
In general, an applicant for an EB-5 investor visa must start a new business in the U.S. by investing $500,000 or $1,000,000.
The applicant must also demonstrate that their business and investment will create 10 full-time jobs.
In addition, the applicant must be actively involved in the management of the business.
Regional Centers create a middle ground for the United States and potential EB-5 investors.
The U.S. wants EB-5 investors to spur job creation through capital investment.
Some EB-5 investors want to get a green card through investment, but don’t want the obligation of managing a company for years to come.
Regional Centers ensure that EB-5 capital is expended in projects that create jobs while taking on most of the managerial tasks required by EB-5 investors.
By preparing capital investment projects geared toward the job creation requirements of EB-5 visas, the U.S. gets what it wants–job creation and economic growth–while the investor still risks capital to meet visa requirements in order to get a green card.
As a result, the majority of EB-5 applicants choose to invest through Regional Centers.
Some added bonuses for investors typically include an exit strategy which increases the likelihood their investment will be recouped, and the ability to count indirect and induced jobs toward the job creation requirement.
Without investing through a Regional Center, an EB-5 applicant can only count the direct jobs that the investment project creates.
Direct jobs are actual identifiable jobs for employees that were hired by your business or by the project you invested in.
In other words, these are jobs that are created by your primary business.
An indirect job is a job that was created “collaterally” by your Regional Center investment project, also known as your New Commercial Enterprise.
If your New Commercial Enterprise causes a related business to hire a new employee, then that new employee’s job would be an example of an indirect job.
For example, let’s say you invest in the creation of a hotel.
Because a hotel must stock its rooms with linens, a company that makes bedsheets and towels must then hire a new employee to meet the demand your New Commercial Enterprise creates.
Regional Centers determine the number of indirect jobs an investment project will create by conducting a complex economic analysis.
The Regional Center’s business plan and analysis must be approved by USCIS.
An induced job is a new job that is created in the community where the Regional Center is located because the workers for your business or investment spend more money in that location.
If a store or restaurant opens in the area where your capital is being invested because your workers are spending so much money in the area, then the jobs at that store or restaurant would be examples of induced jobs.
When investing through a Regional center, USCIS will count direct, indirect, and induced jobs toward your job creation requirement, which will make the requirement that much easier for you to fulfill.
How Do I Find EB-5 Regional Centers Near Me?
The easiest way to find an EB-5 Regional Center is to visit the USCIS website and search for Regional Centers in your state.
USCIS updates its website periodically to provide information on Regional Centers that have been approved.
Additionally, the USCIS website provides a list of service organizations that used to be Regional Centers but that no longer are.
When researching Regional Centers, you should check this list to make sure an organization you are looking at has not been terminated as a Regional Center.
For this information and more, visit the USCIS web site on Immigration Investor Regional Centers.
How Do I Become an EB-5 Regional Center?
Almost anyone is able to apply to be designated as a Regional Center and there are no special licenses needed to become one.
The types of businesses and investments that could potentially be designated as EB-5 Regional Centers range from governmental agencies to partnerships and corporations.
Just about any commercial business in the United States can apply through USCIS for Regional Center designation.
First, applicants must go through a rigorous application process that describes your proposed capital investment project and how EB-5 investment will create the requisite number of jobs.
The application you need to fill out is the Application for Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Program petition, also known as Form I-924.
Form I-924 costs $6,230 to file with USCIS, but the cost involved in putting together a successful application is likely to be a lot more, and can vary greatly based on the fees that various experts charge you to assist with the business plan, economic analysis, and marketing activities.
Regional Centers were created in order to help potential international investors qualify for the EB-5 visa and increased investment into the U.S. economy.
It is not easy to become a USCIS designated Regional Center, and most Regional Centers are either formed by economic, legal, and financial experts, or they hire these experts to assist them as they create investment projects.
If you require more information about the Regional Center application process, please read our article entitled How Do I Become a USCIS Designated Regional Center?