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What is the role of an EB-5 regional center?

I am confused about the role of a regional center. Is it like an entity which any developer with their own project can apply for? Or is it like a government-controlled/regulated private equity fund, and after approval from USCIS, it can decide which project to invest in as its regional center investment? If our company would like to develop a large-scale real estate project, is it better to apply for a regional center by ourselves or to work with an existing, nearby regional center?

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    Raymond Lahoud

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You do not need a regional center to develop your own large scale project, if you are managing it and will be able to meet the job requirements. As for a regional center, it is a designation granted by USCIS on the basis of a proposal for economic growth in the particular geographic area. It is not a government-controlled entity; rather, it is approved by USCIS. It can be applied for by an economic development organization, be a mix of a public/private partnership, etc. The regional center typically provides the means in which to make the indirect investment. It appears at least in your case that you will be making the direct investment, creating the jobs, etc. You could move forward without a regional center designation. It is important that you seek out competent immigration counsel.

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    John J Downey

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Anyone may apply for status as a regional center. The process is involved, but once you are designated by USCIS, you may then set up your own project. You may also act as a conduit for other projects to use your designation in order to take advantage of the indirect job count. The decision to open your own center or utilize an existing one would involve timing. It can take up to a year to apply for and be granted regional center status. If your real estate project cannot wait that long, then affiliate yourself with an existing center. This does not preclude you from applying for your own center at the same time.

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    Bernard P Wolfsdorf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    It is an entity that anyone can set up, but that role is evolving by regulation and statute; it will have more obligations.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The former. A regional center is a U.S. company with a license (from USCIS) to sponsor investment projects for foreign investors. The decision to obtain your own designation or associate with an existing regional center depends on your goals, timelines, funding, etc.

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Any entity may apply to USCIS for EB-5 regional center designation; it is not limited to government- controlled entities. There are many factors that should be considered when deciding to apply for one's own regional center designation or to contact with an existing regional center on a per-project basis. An experienced EB-5 attorney can discuss these with you in detail, but it usually comes down to comparing cost, timing, control and ability/desire to comply with all of the USCIS reporting and compliance requirements.

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    Ian E Scott

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Regional centers are approved by the government and take on specific projects. An investor would invest in a specific project that would fall within a regional center. New projects can either start their own regional center (a long and complicated process) or you can find an existing regional center to partner with.

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    Robert Cornish

    Securities Attorney
    Answered on

    Your question is dependent upon (a) timing of your project and (b) your willingness to forgo the revenue from having your own regional center. Forming a regional center for your project will take time and money, but in the long run will likely be worth it given the desire of most developers to have control over many aspects of the capital raise, supervision of officers, and of course securities compliance in the offer or placement made for immigrant investor funds. And of course, you can use the regional center for future projects down the road. However, if you think this may be the only EB-5 deal you will do and/or you have a timing issue in terms of raising capital or getting a deal in place with other players, using an existing regional center might be worth a look. Be aware, however, that the "rental" of a regional center does not come cheap. Further, those running the regional center need to meet your own due diligence and "smell test."

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