Many countries around the world have immigrant investor programs. The most successful today of these programs are located in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Canada was the most successful at bringing in investment dollars; however, recently parts of its program have been closed. The United States immigrant investor program is called the EB-5 program, which is short for: Employment Based 5th Preference. Success for immigrant investors in this program results in a permanent United States visa (permanent or green card for themselves and qualified family members under the age of 21 at the time of filing the initial petition). Success for the United States is the program requires immigrant investors to make an at-risk investment (One million dollars or $500,000 depending on several factors) that creates no fewer than 10 new American jobs, thus the name Employment Based 5th Preference Visa.
If a foreign national invests $1 million (or in some cases $500,000 within a Targeted Employment Area, an area statistically proven to be 150% of the U.S. national unemployment rate or rural area) in a business that creates ten new American jobs, the immigrant investor would be eligible to obtain a green card (permanent visa) for themselves and their qualifying family members. The program has many other provisions, such as maintaining the investment throughout the EB-5 conditional permanent residency period, increasing regional productivity, and other requirements. The program is divided into two distinct phases. In the first phase the immigrant investor is granted a conditional visa. After two years, the conditions on the visa are removed if the investor has proven the creation of 10 new American jobs, maintained the required amount of investment and met the residency time requirement the conditions on the visa are removed and the visa is made permanent.
What is a Designated Regional Center?
A "Regional Center:"
- Is an entity, organization or agency that has been approved as such by the USCIS; The Pilot Program with the coinciding federally designated Regional Centers was approved by Congress under Section 610© of the Appropriations Act of 1993.
- Focuses on a specific geographic area within the United States;
- Seeks to promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, and increased domestic capital investment.
- Facilitates the pooling of capital of multiple EB-5 investors
- Investors can take credit for jobs created directly as well as indirectly from their investment in the Regional Center. Indirect job creation may be demonstrated using any reasonable approved methodology. Indirect jobs are considered to be full time jobs under the statue.
- Congress gave the USCIS discretion to give priority to EB-5 applications filed in conjunction with a Regional Center. EB5WW offers many types of investments that meet the requirements for the Regional Center Program. Business enterprises must be located in the geographic areas of the Regional Centers. EB-5 applicants’ investments have limited management requirements and may meet the job creation requirements of the law using “indirect employment” based upon approved methodologies.
Types of EB-5 Investments
EB-5 Investments are broken into two categories: a direct investment by a foreign national into a particular business or an investment into a federally- designated Regional Center. The direct investment is just that – an investment into a specific company. In the direct EB-5 investment, the investor is only allowed to utilize direct jobs to qualify for residency (A permanent green card for themselves and all qualified family members under 21 years old). The direct jobs are those new American jobs created within that particular company (the new commercial enterprise) the investor placed their investment.
A Regional Center is a designation granted by the USCIS to an entity that has satisfied requirements under the regional center regulations of the USCIS. This application process is rigorous and complex and the application among many other things outlines the Regional Center’s entire business plan and the job creation methodology that will be utilized to show ten new jobs will be created for each of the foreign national investors in the new commercial enterprise. Once approved, by the USCIS, the Regional Center has much greater power in that the Regional Center can demonstrate creating jobs through pooling investor funds as well as utilizing indirect as well as direct jobs. This is a very powerful tool that allows for greater leeway in demonstrating job creation proof. Regional Centers are allowed to utilize both direct and indirect job creation to support the investor’s requirement for a minimum of ten new American jobs created. Simply stated, a Regional Center has greater flexibility in demonstrating job creation within the new commercial enterprise than a direct investment for an EB-5 applicant to prove their requisite job creation.