I was considering making an investment for the EB-5 visa, but I was not sure if I should just directly invest in a project or go through a regional center. What are the pros and cons of each method and what should I be looking for when trying to choose a project? Also, is a regional center''s track record important in choosing a project?
Yes, the track record of the regional center is important. Due diligence is recommended when choosing a regional center. In a direct investment a $1 million or a $500,000 investment will be required, depending on the location of the new commercial enterprise. Additionally, you will need to create 10 direct, full-time jobs. If you invest through a regional center, you will need to invest a minimum of $500,000. Indirect and induced jobs may be counted towards your job creation requirement. An experienced EB-5 attorney will advise you to minimize immigration risks.
I think a regional center''s track record is one factor to consider, but don''t rely solely on that. You should hire a professional service provider, such as those listed on the eb5investors.com website, to help you do the due diligence, analyze the financial aspects of the project, and advise you on the risks. You should not use an immigration attorney or EB-5 marketing consultant for such service. Make sure you read and understand the PPM and all of the agreements for the investment project. Have your independent financial analyst read and explain the business plan to you and advise you on the feasibility and credibility of the plan. Then you can make an informed decision.
Some of these are good some not so good, you should sit down with a financial professional and look at the various regional centers, their track records, the investment (soundness). To me a regional center''s track record is very important. I wrote an article on this a long time ago, but you might find it useful. I would be happy to consult with you.
That is an excellent question, however, it isn''t practical to answer your question in writing. There are simply too many considerations that would need to be discussed. I would suggest that you call me (or another immigration attorney) and discuss this over the telephone. One major factor in this decision is going to be the amount you are looking to invest. In some instances, a regional center would permit you to invest a much lower amount ($500,000 versus $1,000,000 in a private investment). But there are other factors to consider.
These are good questions which carry various sub-parts. I will give a general overview. The current upside to a direct EB-5 deal is that I-526 processing time for the conditional green card appears to be much faster (2 - 8 months). The downside to such deals is that the job count tends to be lower. The investor will have to show the creation of 10 jobs and be able to tie those jobs to actual W-2 workers (35 hr/week folks). Therefore the job numbers tend to be lower and usually there is no job cushion. On the regional center side however, the investor can count indirect and induced jobs and in certain cases, even direct jobs (if supposing construction of a building will take > 2 years). Majority of the large EB-5 deals tend to be done under the auspices of a regional center because the job count is much higher. In the regional center deals, there is no need to tie the 10 jobs to actual workers; rather, using economic methodologies, an EB-5 economist can determine the job impact based on project expenditures. On the downside, I-526 processing times for regional center projects take much longer usually 13 - 16 months. There is also a greater risk pool since these projects tend to be larger than direct deals and therefore involve multiple investors. I would strongly advise you to seek the assistance of an EB-5 attorney and a financial advisor in the due diligence process. There are many immigration and business considerations to take into account before making the financial commitment. It is, therefore, difficult to point you to a checklist of items that you can use in the project review. As for your last question, yes, regional center track record is important. From a marketing standpoint, one of a regional center''s greatest strengths is demonstrating its I-526 and I-829 success rates. These will give you an idea of how carefully the regional center structures deals with the relevant project developers. Like any other financial investment, you would only want to invest with a group of entities that has a good track record.
The assistance and guidance of an experienced EB-5 immigration attorney will be essential for you to make decisions as to whether to invest directly in your own U.S. EB-5 project or invest in an EB-5 regional center project. The investment in a direct EB-5 project involves more likely than not, you investing your own personal investment funds into a business that you manage operate directly yourself. The investment of your personal funds in an EB-5 Regional Center project will usually involve a separate job creating entity that is controlled by managers and operators that probably will not involve your input as to how the funds are committed and utilized in the U.S. job creating entity. In the case of an EB-5 Regional Center project you will not have to worry about the hiring of employees, the management of the operations, and generating revenues to cover overhead.
Your choice of investment matters a lot for a lot of different reasons. The first of course is that the investment must be bona fide - meaning at risk of gain or loss. It also has to result in sufficient activity to document the creation of the requisite jobs (10 over a period of roughly two years) although this is more nuanced than any flat metric. The difference in creation of an enterprise has a lot to do with control and the way your compliance with the program is documented in the initial petition filing and in removal of conditions on your lawful permanent residency two years later. In short you need to make money so that the investment spurs the economic activity that you are required to prove. And the investment itself must be actual real and at risk. Both elements matter and are central to the success of a filing. Basically the best rule is that quality matters. Everyone involved should be vetted. You need to hire a good solid U.S. based and licensed attorney. That attorney cannot ethically represent the business entity into which you are investing.
In general, if you establish your own business, you will need to invest $1,000,000 and hire 10 full-time employees. You have full control over the money you invest. If you invest in a regional economic center, you will need to invest only $500,000 and indirectly create 10 full-time jobs. You will not have control over the money you invest in a regional economic center. You should have a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney who should be able to provide you with personalized advice after getting to know your personal situation and your overall goals and plans. If you have any questions or concerns about this matter, please feel free to contact me.
Choose carefully! Track records are important. Review with financial advisor.
This is indeed a loaded question. There is no specific methodology to pick an investment, the best advice that can be given is that you conduct all your due diligence as you would when engaging in any business at hand. There are consultants and professionals that can help you navigate. The biggest the advantage of the RC is that you get count the indirect jobs vs. a direct investment where they exclusively look at the direct jobs.
Regional centers have some advantages over direct investments, like the ability to count indirect jobs toward the required job creation and other institutional controls. The immigration history of a Regional Center or the developer associated with a direct EB-5 investment is indeed very important. We recommend retaining experienced EB-5 counsel, like our law firm, to review the US Immigration history of the project or Regional Center, and to coordinate with other professionals to review the potential investment (and, of course, to prepare and file the necessary petitions and documentation!).
Neville M Leslie
Track record is important. You have to pick based on your due diligence and what you feel best fits your needs.
The short answer is the obvious one; work with an immigration attorney who has experience in this area and can properly guide you. This is a complicated area of law, and your question is not one that can be adequately answered in this forum. It is in your best interest to at least speak with an experienced attorney in detail about this so you understand the options and the risks better.