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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of investing in Regional Center projects?

It is easier to satisfy the job creation requirements in a Regional Center, which is important to ensure that the condition is removed after the two-year period. Regional Centers are permitted to count both jobs that were created as a direct result of the investment (e.g., manufacturing jobs), and as an indirect result (e.g., suppliers of materials for the manufacturing process).

Additionally, the investor is not required to take an everyday role in the management of his investment. Thus, the investor may live and work anywhere in the United States; he or she is not obliged to live in the area where the investment is situated.

What is a Regional Center?

A Regional Center is a USCIS-approved entity, agency, or organization that facilitates the pooling of capital of multiple EB-5 investors through to finance projects ranging from ski resorts to commercial centers, hotel and housing developments.

Regional centers focus on specific geographic areas within the U.S. seeking to promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, and increased domestic capital investment.

How do I document my investment funds?

Investors need to show a "pattern of income" to justify an EB-5 investment by providing income tax records from a period of time, savings, and personal investment records.

The path of the funds is also important! An investor must track where the funds came from, as they must show the funds are theirs and that they were obtained from a legal source and not by unlawful means. Lawful sources of funds include: profits from the sale of a property, stocks or bonds, profits from business, business transactions, gifts and inheritances. To prove the source of investment funds, USCIS requires five years of tax returns, five years of bank records, proof of ownership in any business, financial statements for each business and business licenses.

For gifted funds, USCIS will require documentation to track the funds from the person who gave the gift. The investor must prove that it was a true, irrevocable gift, and that all applicable taxes have been paid.

What information and documentation are required?

Source of Funds. The funds for the investment must come from a lawful source. Lawful sources of funds include profits from the sale of a property, stocks or bonds, profits from business, business transactions, gifts and inheritances. To prove the source of investment funds, USCIS requires five years of tax returns, five years of bank records, proof of ownership in any business, financial statements for each business and business licenses. The idea is to present a track record of an honest course of dealing. If your capital came from a specific transaction, such as sale of a house, inheritance, or gift, you must prove the transaction occurred by providing an official document, such as a closing statement or contract. Other documents may be required in some cases.

Business Information. Unless the investor inherited the funds, the investor should be presented as a successful professional or businessperson with a business, financial, or family history that explains the accumulation of financial net worth. It is therefore smart to provide as much documentation as possible that pertains to the career and achievements of the investor, such as business licenses, college diplomas, resume, certificates, awards, etc.

How much involvement is required in the business?

While regulations require involvement in a policy making role or management position, it does not require that the investor take an active role in day-to-day operations. The regulations deem a limited partner in a properly structured limited partnership (in conformity with the Uniform Limited Partnership Act) as sufficiently engaged in the EB-5 enterprise.

Do I have to manage my own business?

No. For those individuals who do not want to actively participate in the management of their business investment, participating in the EB-5 Regional Center Program as a Limited Partner is the better option.

If you want to manage your own business, you can do so with a direct EB-5 investment, as well as with an E-2 or L-1 visa.

Who is considered a "qualifying U.S. Worker"?

A qualified employee is any of the following: -U.S. citizen; -Lawful Permanent Residents; and -Other immigrants authorized to work in the U.S.

How many jobs must I create?

The enterprise must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years of the immigrant investor's admission to the U.S. as a Conditional Permanent Resident.

Are there any specific rules regarding an investment in an existing business that enables the existing business to expand?

The investment must result in a 40% increase either in the net worth or the number of employees of the business. For example, if a business has a $5 million net worth and employes 50 people, the investment would qualify either if it increases net worth by $2 million or if it results in an expansion of 20 employees.

What is included in calculating the investment amount?

The entire amount of the investment need not be in cash. Assets transferred to the U.S. investment can be included at fair market value. Amounts borrowed by the investor can be included in the required minimum investment amount but only to the extent that the debt is secured by assets owed by the investor, and the investor is personally and primarily liable. The assets of the business in the United States in which the investment is made cannot be used to secure any of the indebtedness.

Are there any restrictions on the types of businesses in which the investment must be made?

The investment must be in a "new commercial enterprise" in the U.S. "New" means that the investment must have been made after November 29, 1990. "Commercial" is to be distinguished from a passive, speculative investment, such as a purchase of real estate for use as a personal residence or for potential appreciation in value (as opposed to an active real estate development project).

The U.S. investment can be: (1) the creation of a new business; (2) the purchase of an existing business, which is reorganized to form a new enterprise; or (3) the expansion of an existing business.

How much must I invest?

Generally, the capital investment requirements are either a minimum qualifying investment of $1 million or a minimum qualifying investment of $500,000 within a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). To be classified as a TEA, the required investment must be made in a rural or high unemployment area (defined as 150% or more above the U.S. Average with a population of less than 20,000).

Is an investment in a regional center guaranteed?

No. There is both an immigration risk and a financial risk. Regional centers may have a number of different projects. It is possible for a regional center to obtain pre-approval of a specific project. Even if a project is pre-approved, there is an immigration risk as to whether the necessary jobs will be created in order to obtain removal of conditions. There is also financial risk in every investment. For these reasons, it is critical for the investor to choose both the regional center and the regional center project very carefully.

How long will it take to process my EB-5 application?

Generally, the entire application process takes about nine months. It takes approximately two months to process the investment and all USCIS documents with USCIS. Upon submission of the documents, it generally takes USCIS six months to make a decision.

If the investor is already living in the United States and is in lawful status when the EB-5 visa is approved, the investor and his family may adjust status inside the United States. This process usually takes three to six months.

If the investor is not in the United States they will need to apply for an Immigrant Visa at their local U.S. Consulate or Embassy. This process can take up to six months or longer depending on the Consulate/Embassy.

Is the immigration status granted to the investor valid indefinitely?

The permanent resident status granted to the investor is actually a Conditional Permanent Resident status that is valid for a period of up to two years. The investor and family members are required to remove the condition by filing an application during the 90-day period preceding the second anniversary of obtaining this status. The petition must demonstrate the establishment of the business, the investment of the requisite amount of capital and the creation of the required number of jobs.

Is the investor free to travel after obtaining Conditional Permanent Resident status?

The investor is free to travel in and out of the United States subject to the rules generally applicable to permanent residents. All permanent residents must establish residence in the United States. Evidence of intent to reside includes opening bank accounts, obtaining a driver's license or social security number, paying state and federal income taxes, and renting or buying a home. Additionally, permanent residents must remain in the U.S. for more that 6 months each year, or they may be deemed to have abandoned their permanent residence status unless they apply for a re-entry permit.

When is it possible to apply for U.S. citizenship?

Four years and nine months after obtaining conditional permanent residence status if the investor meets physical presence and residence requirements. Applying for U.S. citizenship is optional.

Can I apply if I have been rejected or terminated in the past by USCIS for a L-1, E-2, B, or other visa?

Rejection in the past does not disqualify the applicant, unless the reasons related to immigration fraud or other major problems. It is most important that all criminal, medical, or U.S. immigration history problems be disclosed to the limited partnership and legal counsel in advance of the application.