Regional Center Investment
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor program enables foreign investors and their eligible family members to obtain lawful permanent resident status and a path to citizenship. There are two types of EB-5 investment: direct investment and regional center investment. Most individuals who qualify for an EB-5 Green Card invest in a Regional Center, which is a government-approved economic growth entity that runs a business that creates jobs, either directly or indirectly. In the period from fiscal years 2016 through 2021, Regional Centers accounted for about 93 percent of all EB-5 petitions. As of April 4, 2023, there were 640 USCIS-approved Regional Centers. Investors must perform comprehensive due diligence when evaluating any EB-5 Regional Center or project.
One advantage of investing in a Regional Center is that the investor does not have to create their own business. Another advantage is that the required amount of investment in Targeted Employment Areas is lower than the amount required for individual investment in other locations. An additional advantage is that "indirect" jobs created by businesses that service the main business count towards the job creation requirement. An additional advantage of investing in a Regional Center is that investors may be able to recoup their investment funds after maintaining the investment for two years and completing the conditional residency requirement. Regional Centers can also be a preferred option for investors who prefer a more passive role, while direct investment models are ideal for those who wish to be actively involved in their investment.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services designates and approves Regional Centers, which are set up to satisfy the initial, conditional EB-5 visa requirements. USCIS specifies the following requirements of job creation in the case of Regional Center investment:
For a new commercial enterprise located within a regional center, the new commercial enterprise can directly or indirectly create the full-time positions. Up to 90% of the job creation requirement for regional center investors may be met using indirect jobs.
- Direct jobs establish an employer-employee relationship between the new commercial enterprise and the persons it employs.
- Indirect jobs are held outside of the new commercial enterprise but are created as a result of the new commercial enterprise.
Full-time employment requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week. In the case of the Regional Center program, full-time employment also means employment of a qualifying employee in a position that has been created indirectly that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week.
What documents are necessary to apply for an EB-5 Regional Center Designation?
To apply for an EB-5 Regional Center Designation, the following documents are required:
Form I-956, Application for Regional Center Designation
Supporting documentation for Form I-956, including:
- A comprehensive business plan
- Relevant operating and partnership agreements
- Job-creation forecasts report
- Transactional, corporate, and/or loan documents
Are there alternative investment options within Regional Centers?
Instead of establishing their own Regional Center, individuals have the option to affiliate with or lease an existing USCIS-approved Regional Center. There are numerous Regional Centers available for this purpose. Renting a Regional Center allows investors to benefit from the Regional Center requirements while saving on the additional costs associated with creating their own Regional Center.
Visit our comprehensive EB-5 Investor Green Card page here.