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What is the difference between an EB-5 regional center and a project developer?

I was told that it is better to invest in an EB-5 project where the regional center is not also the project developer. Are most regional centers structured this way? What does the regional center handle in an EB-5 project versus the developer? And who is actually responsible for finding the employees to meet our job creation requirement?

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    Ed Beshara

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    There are several legal options available between a regional center and developer. A developer may also be the owners of the regional center. In the alternative, the regional center may not be owned by the developer, but the regional center may rent or allow a separate developer to form regional center legal and financial infrastructures. The advantage is that the developer can create jobs indirectly and have the investment funds in the new commercial enterprise loan the funds to the job creating entity where the construction takes place and the jobs are created.

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    A regional center is a legal entity that has been designated by the USCIS to receive EB-5 funds for projects in its areas of geographic and industry-specific scope. The regional center is accountable to the USCIS to annually report the number of EB-5 investors, amount of investment, and number of jobs created in the various projects it sponsors. A project developer is anyone or any company with an EB-5 project. Think of the project developer as the end-user of the invested funds. Sometimes, the EB-5 project is called the "job-creating entity" or JCE. This entity is not accountable to the USCIS, but may be accountable to the regional center and the new commercial enterprise (NCE) into which the EB-5 investors have placed capital. The JCE will use the funds for job creation purposes and directly/indirectly create the required number of jobs, but ultimately, it is the EB-5 investor and the NCE who are responsible for demonstrating to the USCIS that the EB-5 capital was at risk and that the NCE created the jobs (again, in a regional center, this can be direct and/or indirect job creation). In some EB-5 projects, the regional center is also the developer, but not always. Each project should be evaluated on its own merits (whether or not the regional center is also the project developer) and you, as the investor, are responsible for your own due diligence.

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    John J Downey

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Some EB-5 projects are designated as regional centers to enable them to count indirect and induced jobs for their project. There are other regional centers that seek out projects that they believe will be good EB-5 investments. They prepare all the paperwork and fulfill all the reporting requirements for the completion of the visa application. There are other regional centers that are more or less "rent a center;" project developers will bring them an investment opportunity and process the paperwork through the center to avail themselves of the indirect job count. They pay a service fee to the regional center. The responsibility for providing the jobs will depend on which type of center you choose. I do not know from your question whether you are looking to invest or if you have a project you wish to develop.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    It depends. It is not often that the regional center also manages or controls the new commercial enterprise AND the job creating entity (assuming a loan model, as so many EB-5 programs are). Usually, the NCE and JCE have common management, or the regional center and the NCE have common management. From an immigration standpoint, there is no rule against any of these arrangements, though there may be a lot of conflicts of interest. From an investment standpoint, consult an investment adviser. Either way, for a regional center investment, you will have to show that the planned expenditures were made that satisfies the economic model, not the actual, mostly indirect, employees.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    There is not a simple answer to this. You would need to do due diligence in either scenario to make sure the project or regional center has a solid record with USCIS on immigration approvals - not only the I-526 or the I-829, also review the business plan to satisfy yourself the jobs will be created timely, the project will be built timely, the developer has a track record, etc. Otherwise you will get a two year green card, but not be able to get the 10 year card if the project does not get built or the requisite jobs created.

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