Finding a Regional Center
Wealthy foreign nationals who want to move to the U.S. may be eligible for a green card (and eventually U.S. citizenship) by taking advantage of the U.S.’s investment-based immigration program that allows for 10,000 green cards per year. This program is called the EB-5 program. To qualify for the EB-5 program, the foreign national must create 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. workers and invest $1 million into a U.S. company.
However, the foreign national may qualify to invest only $500,000 if they choose to invest into a Regional Center. A Regional Center is an economic unit that the U.S. government has approved for immigrant investment so that the center may promote economic and capital growth, productivity, and increased employment rates. A Regional Center will cover a specific geographic location in the U.S., normally a city or metropolitan area.
How to Find a Regional Center
There are currently more than 400 Regional Centers in the United States. To access the list of approved Regional Centers, potential investors can visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website here: http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-fifth-preference-eb-5/immigrant-investor-regional-centers.
As this list shows, there are Regional Centers located in every state of the U.S., often close to popular cities such as Los Angeles and New York.
The Benefits of Investing into a Regional Center
There are two main benefits to investing into a Regional Center. First, the required investment amount is decreased to $500,000USD. Second, a Regional Center investor is able to count “indirect jobs” that are created in order to meet the aforementioned job creation requirement. A direct job is a job that is specifically linked to the investment. For instance, if the investment is to create a hotel, the hotel positions such as concierge, maids, and cleaning staff are direct jobs. Indirect jobs are those that are collaterally created, such as workers hired by companies in the vicinity of the hotel who are needed to cope with the increased demand created by the hotel (such as dry cleaning workers, taxi cab drivers, etc.)
Investors can also obtain green cards for their spouses and any unmarried children who are under the age of 21.
For these reasons, investing in Regional Centers is a very popular option for wealthy foreign nationals. More than 90% of EB-5 applicants invest into a Regional Center.
What Happens After Making the Investment
After the foreign national makes the investment into the Regional Center, the investor files the EB-5 application with USCIS. This application must contain proof of the investor, evidence that the investment funds were lawfully obtained, and documents for the Regional Center such as its business license and other operation agreements.
Once USCIS approves the application, the investor and family receive their green cards. These green cards are only valid for two years. In the 90 days before the two-year period expires, the investor must provide USCIS with proof that the investment created the requisite 10 new job positions. After USCIS approves this application, the family is issued unrestricted green cards which are valid for ten years and are renewable indefinitely. The family can apply for U.S. citizenship three years after they receive the unrestricted green card.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer to Complete the EB-5 Process
The EB-5 process is typically very time-intensive and complex. The applications that must be filed require very detailed explanations regarding the Regional Center, the investment, and how the investment will generate the needed 10 jobs. Additionally, there is a large amount of money at stake with these applications as well as the very important benefit of obtaining U.S. permanent resident status. Given these stakes, hiring a knowledgeable EB-5 immigration attorney is highly recommended and a skilled professional can help maximize an applicant’s opportunity for approval.