EB-5 Visas: Immigration via Regional Center

Columbus Immigration Attorneys with Offices in Columbus Ohio, Cleveland Ohio, Southfield Michigan and Washington, D.C. 

The EB-5 immigrant investor visa pathway may be complex, but it can be boiled down to a simple fundamental formula: an investment + job creation = a green card for you and family. There are several advantages to making your investment through an EB-5 regional center. Investing through a regional center relaxes some U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements, eases the job creation standard, and allows capital to be pooled because several investors may invest in the same particular project.

Whether the EB-5 is right for you can be a challenging decision, and if you have questions about this visa category, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with one of our Columbus immigration lawyers. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience in a wide variety of complex and immigration law matters, and the dedication and commitment to preserving our clients’ interests that translates to better, swifter results.

Call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates at (800) 625-3404 to arrange your consultation at one of our office locations in Ohio, Illinois, or Washington, D.C.


Investment in Regional Centers & Targeted Employment Areas

A regional center is a public or private entity that has obtained a USCIS license and is focused on attracting investors for regional development and growth. They work with EB-5 investors typically either in an equity or loan model, either as general partners involved with the project, or as project financiers, collecting investor money and then loaning it to a third party project leader.

Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) are often where regional centers are located. These are either in high unemployment or rural areas. A high unemployment area is one having a documented unemployment rate of at least 150% of the published national average. Rural areas are designated areas distant from large metropolitan areas and towns with populations greater than 20,000 residents.

There are many benefits to investing with regional centers located in TEAs. Areas with high unemployment could be attractive urban downtown areas that are located near areas of high unemployment. There are also exceptions to normal USCIS requirements for TEAs and regional centers. For example, you only need to invest $500,000 instead of $1 million for your EB-5 petition in a TEA. Additionally, for a regional center investment, you do not need to show job creation for actual persons, but you can instead show theoretical job creation using economic models and other reasonable methodologies. These can include direct jobs, indirect jobs, or even induced jobs, which are the jobs created in the community involving housing, food, transportation, or entertainment that flow from the investment and the direct jobs created.

Benefits of Investing Through a Regional Center

3,000 Visas Reserved for Regional Center Investors

There are 10,000 EB-5 investor visas available annually, and 3,000 of those visas are set aside only for those foreign nationals who invest in an EB-5 regional center. The purpose of the regional center is to assist EB-5 investors by directing and managing their investments in a specific industry in which it specializes within a certain geographical area.

Relaxed Burden of Proof

The evidentiary burden of proof is relaxed in proving that jobs were created or saved. Normally, in order to qualify for the EB-5 visa, you must establish that the new enterprise in which you are investing will directly create or save 10 jobs as a result of your investment. This requirement is different when your investment is made through a regional center. EB-5 visa petitions based on an investment through a regional center are not required to submit evidence that the investment will directly create or save 10 jobs. Investing through a regional center relaxes this requirement so that you merely have to establish that the jobs will be created directly or indirectly. Moreover, this evidence should be provided by the regional center itself.

Earlier Qualification as an “At Risk” Investment

Your investment may become at risk sooner with the loan based model. A limited partnership may be created between you and the regional center in which you give the funds to the regional center as your EB-5 investment, and the regional center then loans the funds to the company or project. In this situation, your investment is still considered to be an “at risk” investment for you even though the funds are given to the company or project in the form of a loan. One advantage to this is that you may be able to file your EB-5 petition sooner than if you were to invest directly in the project because your funds are considered to be at risk when the regional center loans them to the company or project. If you were to invest directly in the project yourself, your investment would not be considered to be at risk until the company or project has spent a substantial part of the funds.

Lower Minimum Investment Required

Normally, to qualify for the EB-5, your capital investment must be at least $1 million. But the minimum investment amount is lowered to $500,000 if your investment is made in a targeted employment area (TEA). The majority of regional centers are located in areas designated as TEAs, so using a regional center means you will not likely have to invest more than $500,000.

Making the decision to invest is one that should only be made after carefully weighing all options, financial details, short-term objectives, and long-term goals. For experienced immigration guidance, The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates stands ready to deliver the quality counsel you need. Our Columbus immigration lawyers can help you make informed and beneficial choices about investing via a regional center, and applying for an EB-5 visa. We can handle every single aspect of your application to facilitate a better result.

Contact us today at (800) 625-3404 for a confidential consultation and review of your application.


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