The ‘How To’s’ of obtaining an EB-5 and Regional Center Designation

As referenced in our September Newsletter, an EB-5 visa for Immigrant Investors is a United States visa created to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Recently, USCIS kindly reminded organizations that Regional Center names should not contain the words “United States,” “U.S.,” “US.” or “Federal” in their name because it could falsely imply a relationship between the entity and a government agency.
So what does an organization do after adhering to the naming limitations? Well, there are two methods an organization can fund a project with EB-5 capital: through a direct investment or through a Regional Center. The Regional Center can be the more attractive option as the designation makes some USCIS requirements less stringent for EB-5 visa applicants. Direct investments focus on direct job creation whereas Regional Centers focus on indirect or induced full-time job creation. However, a particular organization’s specific needs will always be the determining factor of whether a Regional Center designation is most advantageous.
Although nearly anyone can apply for Regional Center designation, business models that are eligible to become EB-5 Regional Centers include partnerships, corporations, government agencies, and any other existing U.S. commercial entity. There are several steps, which an organization must take in order to obtain EB-5 Regional Center designation and approval from USCIS. An organization must:
1)    Determine the geographic scope and economic benefit of their project, which includes determining the operational business model, the amount required to invest, and the focus of the business.
2)    Acquire the services of professionals that will be imperative to producing documents USCIS require for Regional Center filing. These individuals include, but are not limited to a business plan consultant/writer; securities/compliance counsel; and, an economist.
3)    Submit an I-924 Petition. Immigration attorneys with the help of the individuals listed above would typically file the I-924 application. The processing time for the application typically takes between four (4) and ten (10) months, although it may take longer if additional information is requested and required. After the initial approval, the Regional Center must also file an I-924A Supplement for each fiscal year as a means of proving that it has followed all EB-5 program regulations and is still eligible for Regional Center designation.
4)    Submit I-526 Petitions. Upon I-924 approval, the Regional Center cannot submit the EB-5 investors petition (I-526), which outlines the specific projects that the Regional Center will be conducting and will produce document evidence of such projects.   Once approved, the EB-5 investor is able to obtain their conditional green card so they may move to the United States.
5)    Monitor and Maintain. The Regional Center must track the job creation requirements for its projects, file an annual compliance report, and make filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other state and local agencies that regulate securities.
6)    Submit I-829 Petition. This petition allows the Regional Center to further demonstrate that it has met all the requirements of the EB-5 program. Once approved, this allows the investor to receive lawful permanent resident status in the United States.
Currently, there are over 200 Regional Centers that have been approved by the USCIS and have been an effective tool for economic development. EB-5 Regional Centers have become an increasingly important source of financing since the 2008 financial crisis. The EB-5 program has also become a more reliable manner for foreign investors to obtain U.S. residence application approval.
Well-run Regional Centers have demonstrated that they can foster high-quality, long-term job creation and diversified economic development while maintaining the required ethical standards; however, despite the EB-5 program continues to grown, legislative reform is needed to expand, strengthen, and permanently authorize this provisional program.
For further information about obtaining an EB-5 or Regional Centers, please contact BridgehouseLaw.
Best regards
und viele Grüße aus Charlotte
Reinhard von Hennigs