EB5 Regional Centers01 Jun 2020
Most foreign nationals who apply for permanent residency (commonly, a “green card”), through the employment-based, fifth preference (EB5) immigrant investor category, meet the investment requirement by using the regional center program. Although the EB5 petition process is largely identical whether the immigrant investor applies through a regional center or a direct investment, there are a few important differences that must be taken into consideration.
What is a Regional Center?
A regional center is defined as an “economic entity … involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment.” Regional centers pool investor capital and apply the funds toward more large-scale projects. Regional centers may directly own and operate businesses utilizing the invested capital, or they may loan money to projects operated by other entities. Regional centers may focus on a range of different project types, ranging from hotels and casinos to multifamily housing projects and medical facilities.
Special Immigration Provisions for EB5 Investments in Regional Centers
Creation of Indirect Jobs
If an immigrant investor opts to invest in a regional center, the EB5 job creation requirement is relaxed. Typically, an immigrant investor must be able to document the direct creation of ten full-time jobs as a result of the investment in a commercial enterprise. If the investment is made within a designated regional center, however, the job creation requirement can be satisfied through the creation of either direct or indirect jobs, or a combination of both. Indirect jobs refer to individuals employed outside the commercial enterprise, as a result of the enterprise. For instance, the regional center may contract an outside company to construct a large project, such as a hotel or sports arena; the construction workers hired by the contractor may be counted as indirect hires.
Unlike direct hires, which can be easily evidenced with pay records and the like, indirect hires are ‘counted’ through the use of established economic models and analysis.
Management Not Required
Another important difference between a traditional EB5 investment and one made in a regional center concerns the management of the commercial enterprise. In a direct EB5 investment, the investor must be involved in the management of the enterprise. There is no such requirement for EB5 cases filed based on an investment in a regional center. Rather, the EB5 investor typically plays no part in managing the regional center.
Financial Commitment Unchanged
Investing in a regional center does not change the required investment amount. The threshold investment level remains at $1.8 million. However, this amount is reduced to $900,000 if the enterprise or regional center is located in a targeted employment area (TEA). A TEA is a rural area or an area with high unemployment. Virtually all regional centers are located in TEAs.
Over the past several years, interest in the EB5 regional center program has increased tremendously. Foreign nationals interested in pursuing a green card through the EB5 program are welcome to contact a Murthy Law Firm attorney by eMail at EB5@murthy.com.
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