What is a Regional Center?
Regional centers are entities approved by the U.S. federal government to seek and accept foreign investment under the EB-5 program. Regional centers often encompass an entire city or part of a state.
The EB-5 Regional Center Program allows a person and his or her immediate family members to obtain a green card (i.e. live permanently in the U.S.) by investing US$500,000 into a regional center investment project located in a targeted employment area and creating or saving 10 U.S. jobs.
A regional center must receive full approval and designation from the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Why Invest in the US through a Regional Center?
The Regional Center program has grown dramatically over the past seven years because foreign investors now realize the benefits of pursuing a green card via this route. It is considered one of the most flexible foreign investor programs in the world.
Many foreign investors prefer pursuing their investment through a regional center since the program does not require the entity in which the foreign investor puts his or her money to itself employ 10 U.S. workers. Instead, it is sufficient if 10 or more jobs will be created directly or indirectly as a result of the investment.
By pursuing a green card through a regional center, foreign investors are not required to manage their investment on a daily basis and are permitted to pursue other professional and personal ventures.
Regional Centers must comply with strict USCIS regulations to obtain their designation and to keep its projects going. The rigorous process of obtaining designation involves establishment of a strong project that would entail the creation of ten full-time jobs for the U.S. workers, provision a realistic business plan, compilation of various financial documentation, generation of project forecasts by financial advisors, and thorough background check of the team of professionals. All these factors establish the legitimacy of the work carried out by a Regional Center.
Once you make an investment in a project, the burden of keeping up with the governmental requirements is placed on the Regional Center.
By investing in a commercial project of a Regional Center, you become a General Partner for the limited liability company. Nevertheless, you do not have to handle any daily responsibilities associated with the business operation.
You do not have to prove the creation of mandatory 10 full-time permanent direct/indirect jobs through your investment, since the Regional Center’s job creation procedures and methodology have already been permitted and approved by the USCIS.
Regional Center provides professional assistance in every step of your immigration process.
Your investment of $500,000 is secure and will be kept in an escrow account up until your Form I-526 is approved. In case of the denial of your petition, the complete amount of $500,000 will be immediately returned back to you.
Most Regional Centers pool multiple investments to fund their projects, which accounts for the financial stability of the commercial enterprise.
EB-5 Regional Centers:
EB-5 investor visa applicants have two main investment options. They can either invest directly or through an EB-5 Regional Center. Direct investors must find their own investment project and must take a direct managerial role in overseeing that project. Direct investment is best for those who want more hands-on control of their investment and the project that received their investment.
EB-5 investor visa applicants can also make their investment in an EB-5 Regional Center. This option may be best for those who are more interested in the immigration goals of EB-5 rather than obtaining a maximum return on their investment. Regional centers receive designation from USCIS to administer EB-5 investment projects. Regional centers are responsible for adhering to USCIS EB-5 program regulations. This takes strain off of the investors so that they are not solely responsible for meeting program requirements. As a result, investment through regional centers suits those who want a more hands-off approach, where they are not responsible for the direct management of their investment. Roughly 90 percent of all EB-5 applicants invest through a regional center.
Benefits of Obtaining a Green Card via the Regional Center Program:
Benefits include the following:
- 3,000 green cards reserved each year specifically for foreign investors in the Regional Center program
- No excessive waiting periods or quota backlogs (there are multi-year backlogs for many employment and family-based green card categories)
- No sponsor needed (foreign investors use their own personal funds and do not require sponsorship from either an employer or family member)
- Foreign investors are not required to manage their investment on a daily basis so they may pursue other professional and personal ventures
- Investment capital can come from a gift, inheritance, business ownership or any other lawful activities
- No language requirement
Which Regional Center to choose?
At this time, there are many Regional Centers spread around the United States with various commercial projects to choose from.
It is imperative that the Regional Center you choose is able to protect your original capital investment and to generate sufficient employment to be able to remove the conditional permanent resident status after two years.
Before you decide to become a part of an EB-5 project, consider the below:
(1) First and foremost, the Regional Center must have received its designation from USCIS and be active at the time of your investment.
(2) Check if the Regional Center has a tracking system to provide you with the statistics on the approved forms I-526 (Petition for an Alien Entrepreneur) and I-829 (Petition by an Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions). If you see that other investors got their conditional and unconditional green cards through a particular Regional Center, the odds are, you would too.
(3) If it is an existing Regional Center, check the effectiveness and success of its past commercial projects.
(4) If it is a new Regional Center, you may not get any information about the approved I-526 and I-829 petitions. Do not immediately dismiss it. Instead, consider factors such as the strength of the project, the expertise of the promoters, the forecasts and figures on the likelihood of profitability and ultimately success, the geographic location of the project and the experience of the professional team at the Regional Center.
Consider all the pros and cons of a business plan. If you have any doubts, talk to an independent EB-5 specialist or your financial consultant.
Weigh in the geographic area where the project is to be carried out. The project is more likely to be successful in a more populated and distinguished geographic area.
Check the background of the legal team, as well as other professionals at the Regional Center. You want your future to be in good hands.
Make sure that the project you are planning to invest in is familiar and interesting to you. In other words, do not invest into something that you have doubts about or think will not do well on the market.
How to get information about a Regional Center?
Information provided by a Regional Center through website, brochures, and other promotional materials is a useful tool. However, we strongly suggest that you conduct a thorough research and set up individual meetings with the representatives of the Regional Center.
Make sure you know your investment options, the benefits and drawbacks. Once you are familiar with these details, it will be easier for you to digest the information you obtain from a Regional Center.
Go on the Regional Center’s web page to study their program, and register for a demo or a tour, if possible.
Research the area where the Regional Center’s project is located. This might help you predict whether the project will be a success due to market demand.
Get in touch with the legal team of the Regional Center to verify which services are included in their fees.
Contact several Regional Centers to compare their programs.
Turn to an independent consultant for advice on a Regional Center’s program and services.
Every well-established Regional Center has a team of professionals whose goal is to help you evaluate the projects profitability and answer any questions about immigration that you may have.
The team at NYIF has over 35 years of expertise in the field of real estate, development, construction, and funding in New York City. Our representatives will be happy to provide you with the financial details of the project and explain the benefits that we have to offer.
Similarly, our experienced legal team is also familiar with the NYIF project as well as the ever stringent requirements set by USCIS. Inside knowledge is a firm advantage when it comes to dealing with the legal paperwork and immigration procedures.