With hundreds of regional center investments, which will lead to a Green Card and financial success?
The best EB-5 regional center projects stand up to scrutiny. Our independent analysis is just what potential investors need to make an informed decision — for the best chance of getting a Green Card and your money back.
Regional centers vs. direct investment: differences & investor advantages
While the Regional Center Program is one way to acquire an EB-5 visa, direct investment is another. There are several reasons why investors may find the regional center model makes the EB-5 process easier.
Direct investment model
A direct investment usually features one investor per project and the investor must act in a managerial or advisory capacity for that business — being involved in decision-making with an EB-5 business plan. In general, an investor must be actively involved in a direct investment.
Regional center investment model
Regional center investments involve many investors who purchase equity stakes in an investment fund. That fund then purchases equity in the job creating entity (the equity model) or loans capital to the job creating entity (the loan model).
Active vs. passive involvement
The amount of actual management involved is a major point of different between regional center investments and direct investments. Almost no active involvement is required with a regional center investment compared with a direct investment.
A regional center investment allows investors to passively invest through a limited partnership or limited liability company. For an EB-5 applicant not interested in running a business, this is a significant advantage.
Job creation advantages of regional center investments
In a direct investment project, an investor must follow more limited job creation standards. Direct investments only allow “direct” jobs to be counted, and each job counted must have a corresponding W-2 for that employee.
Conversely, regional centers have more flexibility with job creation. The Regional Center Program allows for a broader range of jobs accepted — direct, indirect or induced — thus making that requirement easier to fulfil.
Direct jobs are usually construction jobs or those created during the operational phase of the EB-5 project, such as hotel operations. Note that construction jobs can only be counted if the construction phase is longer than 24 months; otherwise only indirect and induced jobs created by construction spending can be counted.
Indirect jobs are those created in industries that supply the necessary goods and services required for construction or operations. Examples would include employment related to a construction-supply company.
Induced jobs are created from the extra spending in the local economy by people with direct and indirect jobs related to an EB-5 project. An example would be a clerk at local supermarket hired to accommodate the extra business they are experiencing because of an EB-5 project.
Regional centers offer a wider array of investment options
Regional centers, by virtue of investor capital pooling, also have a wider range of projects they can support compared with the relatively limited scope of direct investment options. Direct investments are typically limited to investments like franchises, hotels, and retail stores.
USCIS-approved regional centers: approval is not endorsement
USCIS, as of June 4, 2020, has approved 721 regional centers.
Investors should be mindful of the limitations of USCIS approval for an EB-5 regional center. Such approval does not indicate USCIS endorsement of that regional center or its EB-5 compliance; nor is it a guarantee of that regional center’s compliance with securities laws. It also does not minimize any investor risk.
USCIS offers this crucial advice: “Potential investors are encouraged to seek professional advice when making any investment decisions.”
We at EB5 Diligence fully agree with this statement. It is the reason why we exist: to give potential investors all the information and independent EB-5 due diligence they need for any and all regional center projects they are considering.
EB-5 regional center history
A regional center is an organization approved and regulated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to promote economic growth in a specified region.
A regional center allows a New Commercial Enterprise (NCE) in the U.S. to pool together the capital from many investors into one project. An NCE can be a public or private entity or a combination of both.
Inspired by the immigrant investor programs of other countries, Congress established the Regional Center Program, then known as the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, in 1992. This was two years after Congress established the EB-5 visa program in 1990.
Twenty years later, in 2012, Congress removed “pilot” from the program name and reauthorized the program through till 2015. The Regional Center Program has since been reauthorized many times for different lengths of time.
USCIS oversees the program, its policies, as well as the compliance of EB-5 investors, regional centers, new commercial enterprises, and job creating entities.
Every year, a regional center must submit a Form I-924A to show their job creation activities as well as other proof of eligibility for the program. If a regional centre does not submit this form or properly proves its job creation, it can receive a Notice of Intent to Terminate (NOIT). This can lead to that regional center losing its designation in the program.
Regional center contribution to the U.S. economy
The program’s activity and impact have increased by a huge margin, even in the last decade. In 2008, the program garnered $321 billion in investments; while in 2014 to 2015, that number skyrocketed to $11 billion. During 2014-15, the capital infusion from the program represented 2% of total foreign direct investment in the U.S.
The impact made by regional centers touches many necessary and important industries and sectors including health care, education, renewable energy sources, senior living facilities, transportation, affordable housing, hotels, research facilities, architectural and engineering-related services, wholesale trade, and more.
When the EB-5 program was originally created in 1990 there was only the direct investment option. Today the Regional Center Program accounts for 95% of all EB-5 project investment.