EB-5 Regional Center Guide: What You Need to Know

EB-5 Regional Center

If you are considering applying for an EB-5 visa, you will have to make an important decision early on in the process:

 

Whether you will make a direct investment or invest in an EB-5 regional center.

 

While both options are valid, and can lead to a successful outcome, your decision will depend on your individual investment goals.

 

This guide will explain EB-5 Regional Center investments.

 

When you are finished reading, you should better understand which type of investment is best for you.

Overview of What we will Cover:

What is a Direct Investment?

 

What is an EB-5 Regional Center?

 

What are the Differences Between Regional Centers and Direct Investments?

 

How Do I Find a Good Regional Center to Invest In?

 

What are the Benefits of Investing in a Regional Center?

 

What are the Cons of Investing in a Regional Center?

 

Conclusion

 

What is a Direct Investment?

 

A direct investment is any EB-5 investment that is not made in a regional center.

 

Examples of direct investments include:

 

  • starting a business

 

  • investing in an existing business

 

  • purchasing an existing business

What is an EB-5 Regional Center?

 

A regional center is a business organization, designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, that sponsors various EB-5 investment projects.

 

Regional centers gather investment funds from multiple EB-5 investors to fund their projects.

 

Regional centers are required to promote economic growth and job creation.

 

The projects sponsored by regional centers are usually large-scale hotel developments and other real estate developments.

 

As of October 3, 2017, there are 843 approved regional centers.

What are the Differences Between Regional Centers and Direct Investments?

 

There are three main differences between investing in a regional center and making a direct investment. These differences center on:

 

  • Control;

 

  • Indirect Job Creation; and

 

  • How Jobs Creation is Proven

Control

 

One of the main differences between investing in a regional and making a direct investment has to do with your level of control and involvement in the operation of the business.

 

With a direct investment, you are typically the sole-owner of the business, or you may have some co-owners.

 

With direct investments, you will typically have a lot of control over the business. This is your business, so you will likely have a lot of involvement in the day to day operations of the business. You will make decisions and have a great deal of influence over the business.

 

With regional center investments, you are one out of hundred of other investors. You have very little involvement in the management or operations of the regional center project that you invest in. Typically, by investing in a regional center project you become a “limited partner.” As a limited partner, you are usually given voting rights and other rights granted to limited partners.

Indirect Job Creation

 

Another main difference between regional center investments and direct investments has to do with job creation.

 

One of the main requirements to get an EB-5 visa, is that you must show that your investment will lead to the creation of 10 full-time jobs for qualified US workers.

 

With direct investments, the 10 jobs must be “direct jobs.”

 

Direct jobs are jobs the jobs where the EB-5 business (the new commercial enterprise) is the employer. These are the jobs that are directly created by the new commercial enterprise.

 

Regional Centers, on the other hand, can count direct jobs and indirect jobs.

 

Indirect jobs are jobs that are created as a result of the new commercial enterprise but are not directly created by the new commercial enterprise.

 

To show how this works, I’ll give an example:

 

Lets say you are investing in a hotel for your EB-5 investment.

 

If you make the investment as a direct investment: You can count all of the jobs directly created by the hotel such as the hotel staff. You will not be able to take credit for any other jobs.

 

If you investment through a regional center: You can count all of the direct jobs, such as the hotel staff, as well as all of the indirect jobs. So if your hotel benefits the local economy, and local businesses need to hire more workers, you can take credit for those jobs.

How Jobs Creation is Proven

 

Another big difference between direct investments and regional centers investments has to do with how you prove to USCIS that you created the required number of jobs.

 

For direct investments, you must prove that the new commercial enterprise has actually created 10 full-time jobs for US workers.

 

You prove this by submitting evidence such as:

 

  • Form I-9 for each employee

 

  • W-2 for each employee

 

  • Other relevant evidence

 

For Regional Center Investments, you do not have to show that the jobs were actually created. For regional center investments, an economist will typically prepare an economic calculation showing how many jobs the EB-5 project is expected to create. You are not required to provide additional evidence showing that the jobs were actually created. You do not need to submit the W-2s and the I-9s of the hired workers.

How Do I Find a Good Regional Center to Invest In?

 

  • Disclaimer – This is not investment advice and is not a substitute for investment advice. This is just general information for you to consider. As an immigration lawyer I am qualified to give you advice on the immigration aspects of your investment. You should consult with a qualified professional to give you investment advice.

 

There are literally hundreds of regional centers to choose from. Picking the right regional center and the right project to invest in are critical to the success of your EB-5 visa petition.

 

Here are some tips to help you select the right regional center:

 

1. Work with Licensed Professionals

 

There are two main types of professionals that are licensed and qualified to give you investment advice:

 

  • Broker/Dealers

 

  • Registered Investment Advisors

 

Both of these professionals are licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

 

You can find qualified broker/dealers and registered investment advisors using FINRA’s BrokerCheck website.

 

This resource can be accessed here: https://brokercheck.finra.org/

 

Using BrokerCheck, you can make sure that the professional you are considering is actually licensed. You can also see how long they have been licensed, client reviews, and other valuable information.

 

Tip #1: In addition to checking their qualifications, make sure the professional you plan to work with has experience advising on EB-5 investments.

 

Tip #2: Keep in mind that some broker/dealers and investment advisors may only suggest a few projects to you that they personally work with. This is why you should follow Step 2 (below) and conduct your own research.

2. Do Extensive Research

 

You are making an investment to get an EB-5 visa, so you need to treat it seriously.

 

Conduct extensive research on the regional centers you are considering.

 

Check their history and their track record of success. However, keep in mind that a history of success does not guarantee future success nor does it guarantee that your EB-5 visa will be approved.

 

Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

 

  • Does this regional center have a track-record of success?

 

While this is not a guarantee that your project will be successful, it is one of the best tools to predict future success.

 

  • Does the project that I’m planning to invest in have an approved I-526 and I-829?

 

If investors have already had their I-526 (exemplar) approved, it means that the project is approvable.

 

Investor’s investing in an EB-5 regional center with an approved exemplar already have the majority of their I-526 petition approved.

 

We will discuss this more down below.

 

  • Who are the people managing this EB-5 project? What is their level of experience?

 

As with any investment, you want to make sure that the people in-charge know what they are doing and have proper experience.

 

  • How many jobs is this project projected to create? Is there a surplus of jobs per investor?

 

As we mentioned, one of the requirements to get an EB-5 visa is that your investment must create 10 jobs. If enough jobs are not created per investor, some investors will not get their I-829 petition approved (to get the condition removed on their green card). This is why it is important to choose a project that is projecting a surplus of jobs.

 

  • Is the project fully-financed?

 

There are hundreds of EB-5 projects out there and a limited number of investors. For this reason, many EB-5 projects have been unable to secure the number of investors that they were planning to secure. As a result, many projects do not have the financing in-place to reach completion.

 

For this reason, you should make sure that the project is fully-financed, and has back-up sources of financing.

 

  • What percentage of the overall capital is coming from EB-5 investors?

 

For the same reasons mentioned above, the project should not rely too heavily on EB-5 investor capital.

 

  • Do the project developers have their own funds invested in the project? How much?

 

Having personal funds committed to the EB-5 project shows a commitment to the success of the project. For this reason, you should look for projects that have funds committed by the developers themselves.

 

The answers to these questions will start to point you in the right direction regarding your investment choice.

 

You should also review potential regional center projects with your investment advisor and your immigration attorney.

Here are some additional resources to help with your research:

 

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-fifth-preference-eb-5/immigrant-investor-regional-centers

 

  • This link contains a list of all approved regional centers.

 

  • As of October 3, 2017, there are 843 approved regional centers.

 

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-fifth-preference-eb-5/eb-5-resources

 

  • This link contains general information on the EB-5 Visa Program

What are the Benefits of Investing in a Regional Center?

 

There are 3 main benefits to making a regional center investment:

 

  • Less involvement

 

  • Deference

 

  • Job Creation Benefits

Less Involvement

 

As I mentioned above, when you invest in a regional center, you have very little involvement in the management and decision making of the business.

 

For many investors, this is a major benefit.

 

With the limited management responsibilities, you are free to focus on other business pursuits.

 

Also, for investors with very little business experience, investing in a regional center gives them the ability to rely on the experience and competence of other business professionals.

Deference

 

Deference is perhaps one of the most important benefits of investing in a regional center vs. making a direct investment.

 

In order to explain this concept, I first must explain what an “exemplar” is.

 

Regional centers are given the opportunity to file a sample I-526 application to USCIS. This sample petition is called an exemplar. If this application is approved, it means that USCIS is giving its stamp of approval of the project and all the documents submitted, including the business plan, economic projections, and all other documents submitted with the petition.

 

By approving the exemplar, USCIS is saying that the project meets the requirements of the EB-5 visa program.

 

What this means is that if you invest in a project that has an exemplar approval, USCIS should rule similarly on all of the documents submitted in the exemplar and cannot re-adjudicate those aspects of the I-526 petition.

 

By investing in project that has an approved exemplar, the majority of your I-526 petition is already approved.

 

EB-5 direct investments do not have the option to file an exemplar petition. So when you file your I-526 for an EB-5 direct investment, the entire application is being adjudicated for the first time (with no deference to previous decisions).

 

Keep in mind:

 

An exemplar approval does not guarantee that your I-526 will be approved.

 

You will still have to prove that your investment funds were obtained lawfully. This aspect of your I-526 petition is specific to you, so it can and will be adjudicated by USCIS. An experienced immigration lawyer  can help make sure that you submit these documents properly.

Job Creation Benefits

 

As we discussed above, another major benefit of investing in a regional center is the ability of regional centers to take credit for indirect jobs to meet the job creation requirement.

What are the Cons of Investing in a Regional Center?

 

Here are 3 cons of making a regional center investment:

 

  • Lack of Control

 

  • Administrative Fee

 

  • Minimal Return

Lack of Control

 

By investing in a regional center, you have very little control over the EB-5 project. You are subject to the management and decision making of project managers.

 

This can be a problem for many entrepreneurs and investors if they wish to be in control of the project.

Administrative Fee

 

Regional centers typically charge an administrative fee for their services. This fee usually ranges from $50,000 to $70,000 as a one time payment.

 

The fee is in addition to the $500,000 that you are required to invest to get an EB-5 visa.

 

By making a direct investment, you do not have to pay an administrative fee to anyone.

 

For this reason, investing in a regional center is usually more expensive than making a direct investment.

Minimal Return

 

The returns issued by EB-5 regional centers has historically been very low.

 

When making a regional centers investment, you should not expect a major return on your investment. The investment should primarily be viewed as a vehicle to get US immigration benefits.

 

By making a direct investment, there is greater opportunity to generate high returns. By making a direct investment, the sky is the limit on how much you can potentially earn.

Conclusion

 

Deciding between a EB-5 regional center investment or a direct investment is one of he important decisions you will have to make, if you are considering an EB-5 visa.

 

You should now understand the basics of EB-5 regional centers, including:

 

  • What is a regional center;

 

  • The differences between regional center investments and direct investments;

 

  • How to find a good regional center to invest in;

 

  • The pros and cons of investing in a regional center.

 

If you have any questions about the material discussed in this article, you can email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com

 

I’m very responsive to email and I would be happy to answer your questions.

 

Ashoori Law is a full-service immigration law firm focused on helping business professionals and entrepreneurs get visas to the United States.

 

Got a question? Lets talk

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Seann Farrell
01:36 08 Oct 21
Citizenship acquired from beginning to end in under 10 months. Professionally prepared paperwork, documentation easy to submit online, very pleased with the outcome. Without the professional services of Ashoori Law there's a good chance delays and... issues could have occurred. I recommend Ashoori if peace of mind is your goal.read more
Juliana Chen
21:30 04 Oct 21
My experience with Ashoori Law was excellent. The teams were very attentive, always there to help with any of my questions. Always quick to respond and deal with any of my concerns. They are very knowledgeable and professional. I couldn’t be more... pleased with the services that they provided to me. I would highly recommend Ashoori Law to anyone with legal needs.read more
amit singh
16:04 04 Oct 21
I had a consultation with Rohit today. He patiently listened to my case and questions and provided satisfactory responses to all. I am happy with the discussion. I may end up taking a paid consultation for more details. I would recommend them to... others as well. Thanks Rohit!read more
Ashish sinha
00:27 02 Oct 21
I reached Michel to get help on i765(L2 EAD) expedite request. He explained me the chances are slim yet filed the request on my behalf.They are just a message away and revert phone calls anytime. They try to explain every bit of your... case.Despite of my expedite request having a low chance of approval, I am glad that my case was picked it's all because Michel and his team prepared my case so well that I got the expedited request approved.I am so happy, kudos to Michel, venshkha, jaser.Ashish Sinharead more
Dina Ibrahem
22:56 01 Oct 21
I've been dealing with them for a year now, they helped me a lot, very professional and friendly! I am always comfortable taking their advices and consult them through my case and they never let me down. and most importantly is that they are very... humble and available literally any time i needed an advice or if I have any concerns.I also LOVE that they email me before any important appointment I would have, making sure that I receive the mails and always sending me soft copies just in case which is GREAT and they constantly keep reminding all the way till my appointment comes. I am still a client with them and very happy, Thanks to Vaneskha Wilson, Jeser Romero, Lahaina Araneta, Milena Manukyan, Elaine Leduna , Karla Samayoa and of course Michael Ashoori.read more
Sach Gill
19:39 30 Sep 21
Had a chat with Rohit Srinivasa. He is informative and possess good knowledge about the immigration related matters. Highly recommended.
Aniruddha Ghosh
16:53 30 Sep 21
Talked to Rohit Srinivasa from Ashoori Law. He is incredibly knowledgable about US immigration laws and is quite freindly. Highly recommended if you are a student on F-1 (OPT, STEM) or are looking to file H-1B.
Kristina Karalic
18:56 29 Sep 21
We accidentally found Ashoori Law online, but we're so happy we did because they have been nothing but outstanding! Ashoori Team has been helping us with multiple cases, including B, L visas and green cards. Their portal is very user friendly, and... their staff is always responsive, caring and detailed. I'd like to give a special shout-out to their Director of Legal Operations, Lahaina Araneta, who has been an absolute delight to work with. I am highly recommending Ashoori Law to anyone seeking immigration services!read more
Zulfa Sultana
18:18 29 Sep 21
I am glad I chose them. Above everything, they are friendly and work closely with you. Owner of the law firm himself is available to talk if needed. Highly recommending them.
Joao Castro
00:31 29 Sep 21
Michael and his team deserve more than a five star rating. I hired Mike already based on a recommendation from a friend of mine, who also requested his services. My friend gave him five star as well, and this could simply not be different.Since my... first contact with Michael, I've perceived his solid ethical principles, responsive professionalism and personal attention to all details in US immigration complex process. In my case, he was key for me to obtain I-131 permits for three Green Cards - and the documents were shipped after just six weeks after the process initiation. In another process, he has been immediately responsive to replace Green Cards. And all my contacts were online - which is a testimony of his great online reputation.If you are looking for US Immigration lawyer assistance for true delivery, great value and avoid risks and potential problems, the answer is Michael Ashoori Law, with his fantastic team, that really and personally takes care of your immigration needs.JCread more
Ahmad Jawid
01:45 28 Sep 21
Ashoori Law, Michael and his team are very professional , helpful and great people for their clients . i am very glad that i had Ashoori Law team for my paperworks . I recommend everyone Ashoori Law especially for Immigration purposes ask for... Michael .read more
Ariel 0054 Realty
01:43 28 Sep 21
Extremely professional teamWithout any doubt, they can handle with knowledge and expertise any caseYou are in good hands with them
Mittal Patel
20:29 27 Sep 21
Have worked with many immigration Lawyers. Ashoori law was very affordable and got back to me in timely manner. Made sure I was on time with my fillings and that we responded to our RFE with adequate info. Lahaina is one of their E2 lawyers and was... expert with these kinds of cases. Will hire them again for renewals.read more
Pragalath Mohandas
20:30 25 Sep 21
Amazing experience. Ashoori Law firm gave me hope and prepared a strong case & I got my E2 case approved in one week. I spoke to other immigration lawyers & i was not satisfied. its easy to communicate with everyone! I highly recommend them to... anyone looking to get immigration help!read more
bhakti savai
12:26 21 Sep 21
I had great experience with Ashoori Law. Professional, knowledgeable, responsive, client-centric, and timely! Highly recommended!
William & Heather Oon
01:17 20 Sep 21
We are grateful and thankful to Ashoori Law and its team. They are very understanding, patient, responsive with all our enquiries and prompt in providing updates to our status. We highly recommended their service.
Kaushik Kuila
19:43 17 Sep 21
I have used Michael Ashoori's Law Firm for my mother's Green Card processing. I have found them very professional and responsive along the way, answering all my queries in a timely manner. I'll readily use them for any immigrations needs in future.
Hyunwook Shin
07:45 10 Sep 21
Michael Ashoori and his firm helped us navigate the complex filing process, answer any questions we have with care, and eventually attain successful approvals. Highly recommended!
Sharon Shanaya
21:53 05 Sep 21
My case was a bit complicated due to my ex-husband and his family but this firm dealt with my I-485 case so nicely and professionally. I was given only 2 weeks to lodge my application due to my messy divorce. This firm made sure my case was filed... before my conditional green card expires. Got my green card in 5 months even during this Covid time when everything takes ages to process. I Will recommend them to anyone who is having difficulty with immigration. Absolutely the best. Don't waste ur time with other attorneys.read more
H. George
02:10 01 Sep 21
Very professional, they have a very good system to prepare your case and make proper follow ups.My case was a little bit complicated and other places they were taking advantage trying to charge me a lots of money but Michael never did... that.Recommending 100% best lawyer ever.read more
Linda Bradley
06:06 25 Aug 21
Very happy with your services 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
jarka sakacova
01:08 24 Jul 21
I have a very pleasant experience with Rohit from Ashoori Law , he was very patient, professional and had a strong knowledge and answered all my questions in detail. I would recommend highly to use Ashoori Law service.
samah elwakkad
15:36 23 Jul 21
I would like to thank Ahoori law office and all the team who was helping us to obtain our L1A approvalThis office Law is truly dedicated to clients, very responsive and professional, they helped me get through so many obstacles.Can't thank them... enough for their effortsIt's really amazing how they guide their clients until they achieve their goals.Thank you Michael for the amazing dedicated team and a special thanks for Lahaina who is really an amazing person and very knowledgeable and really helpful and supportive, also Christina who has helped me a lot through this.You're the best guysKeep it upread more
raechel schofield
22:07 22 Jul 21
Highly recommend Ashoori Law. My adjustment of status was a smooth and easy process. They are always happy to answer any questions you may have along the way.
Kishore Kumar
21:13 22 Jul 21
I highly recommend Michael and his legal team for being thorough professionals. I worked with Lahaina Araneta and Kelly Raposa. Both are so helpful. They made my adjustment of status to register permanent residence a smooth and seamless process. I... definitely recommend their service !read more
Manoj Gunawardena
13:46 22 Jul 21
My experience with Ashoori Law is very good, all of my questions were quickly answered and clearly. The staff was qualified, friendly. Specially I worked with Mr. Rohit Srinivasa . I can highly recommend them.
Mohammad Ahraz Hussain
19:55 20 Jul 21
The whole process of evaluating the case, submission of RFE and then correspondence was extremely well done!
Zed Karkar
15:06 20 Jul 21
A Very helpful and professional law firm. helped us out with our application.
Inger Nicolaisen
14:57 15 Jul 21
Michael Ashoori’s professionalism and expertise is unmatched in the industry! My experience with Ashoori Law is very positive, all of my questions were quickly answered making my adjustment of status a very smooth process. The staff was... unbelievably friendly and ensured the best amount of care was taken with my case! I can’t recommend them enough!!read more
Sadaf Nadeem
00:42 09 Jul 21
I highly recommend Micheal and his legal team for being thorough professionals. Their knowledge and expertise are second to none and their work ethic is unmatched.
kvshirazi
18:28 08 Jul 21
I had a great experience with Ashoori Law. Lahaina, Michael and Ehsan helped me to get my TN visa approved in no time.Lahaina is very responsive. Being able to reach out and talk to your lawyer/attorney is exactly what you need when you apply for... your visa...I definitely recommend them for any immigration services.read more
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Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.