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What is EB-5 regional center preapproval?

When conducting due diligence for a regional center, I read that one thing I should check for is if the regional center has been "preapproved." What is regional center preapproval? Should I invest through a regional center which has preapproval? Will preapproval cause problems with my investment later on?

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    Rohit Kapuria

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Not sure I completely understand the question. You should definitely check to see if the regional center is an approved entity and has a valid designation from USCIS to participate in the immigrant investor program. There are times when a regional center has an exemplar approved (a pre-approved) project that you may invest in. This is rather attractive since it means that assuming there have been no changes since USCIS approved the project, half of the work at the I-526 stage is complete and all USCIS will review in your initial petition is the source and path of funds for your $500,000. USCIS will therefore give deference to the project.

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    Julia Roussinova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    More information is needed to answer your question. Please consult an experienced EB-5 immigration attorney who may also refer you to a licensed investment adviser. If it is simply a designation as a regional center, it does not mean any project within it has been reviewed and approved by USCIS necessarily. You should inquire as to whether there is an established track record for the regional center with I-526 and I-829 approvals/denials; how job creation is documented; what business models the regional center uses; whether they are consistent, etc. If it is a pre-approval of a particular project, it may mean different things, such that the center may have filed for a hypothetical, an actual or exemplar project approval. Exemplar is the best way to go because this means the regional center has actually submitted all required evidence for an exemplar I-526 petition with all required project documentation and comprehensive business plan/economic analysis (except an actual EB-5 investor''s source of funds documentation) for USCIS to review. If an exemplar is approved, USCIS will defer to the approval of the project documentation and will only review an individual EB-5 investor''s lawful source of funds evidence when an investor files his or her individual I-526 based on that project. An EB-5 investor must otherwise qualify for EB-5 and prove lawful source of funds.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    In my opinion it is much more important to know what their immigration track record is: how many I-526''s have they had approved? How many I-829''s approved? Have any been denied?

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    A regional center should already be approved ("designated" is the more accurate term) by USCIS to operate within the Immigrant Investor Program. An EB-5 project can receive pre-approval of its project documentation, business activities, etc., making the process more simple, possibly. An immigration attorney will assist you with due diligence from an immigration perspective, and with preparing and filing the required petitions and supporting documentation.

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The word "preapproval" is not accurate and not helpful. A better word would be "designation" letter. The "preapproval" or "designation" letter is simply the USCIS designating the entity as a regional center. Such an approval could mean that the regional center filed a hypothetical project proposal that met the low bar for USCIS to issue the letter and authorize the regional center to market an actual project if and when it had an actual project. The regional center could have submitted an actual project proposal, which requires a bit more evidence, including a comprehensive business plan. A USCIS approval of an actual project means that future EB-5 investors could rely upon that approval and expect USCIS deference to the approval of the business plan. Finally, the regional center could have done the most work possible upfront and filed an "exemplar" project, which is an actual project with all of the agreements and documents needed for an EB-5 petition, except the investor''s documents. An exemplar approval is the best because it means that USCIS has reviewed and approved all of the deal package (project documents). If the investor can prove his or her lawful source of funds and files the documents in the deal package, then USCIS has said it will defer to its previous adjudication and approve the petition.

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    John J Downey

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    I think what you mean is that a project of the regional center has been pre-approved. A project may be sent to USCIS as an exemplar to see if USCIS will approve it. If it is approved, then the regional center can market it more easily to investors.

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    Denyse Sabagh

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Sometimes regional centers will send in an I-526 application for a particular project as an exemplar of the I-526 the immigrant investor will file. If the exemplar is approved and the regional center makes no material changes in the project, the immigrant investor''s I-526 petition will typically be approved. The key is if there are any "material" changes to the project.

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    Karen Weinstock

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    A preapproval for a regional center does not mean anything other than USCIS review of its business plan, financial models, etc. Some regional centers are good, while others are very risky investments, so you would need to have a financial expert advise you on the amount of risk and the projections in the regional center if you are not a financial expert yourself.

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