When must an EB-5 investor qualify as an accredited investor?
I am considering participating in the EB-5 program. Can someone please tell me at what stage of the EB-5 process I need to qualify as an accredited investor? Is it when I am completing an application with a regional center, or when USCIS reviews my application?
Actually, the accredited investor requirement is not imposed by immigration law, but securities law. When the regional center evaluates your background, you must be an accredited investor before they present the offering documents to you.
The regional center probably will have you fill out and sign a questionnaire proving you are an accredited investor. The USCIS does not care if you are an accredited investor. The regional center cares about it because of SEC regulations, not immigration law requirements.
Most of the regional centers will ask you if you are an accredited investor before they will allow you to invest and file. However, definitely one of the source of fund elements that you need to prove in your I-526 filing is whether you are an accredited investor or show that you obtained funds from someone who could qualify as one even if they are not the one to actually investing. This is often the case when a child or young adult is applying as an EB-5 investor with money he or she received from their parents.
This is more of an SEC requirement than a USCIS requirement. That is, when signing the offering documents for the regional center or new commercial enterprise and making the investment, you will have to show you are accredited. This is generally done before filing the I-526.
Unless the regional center project is accepting unaccredited investors by using an investor representative, they will most likely make sure you are an accredited investor before you invest into the project.
USCIS does not require that you be an accredited investor to qualify for an EB-5 visa. This is rather the U.S. securities law requirement. If you plan to invest through a project within an approved regional center, then a regional center will generally require that you complete an investor questionnaire or equivalent documentation and attest that you are an accredited investor. In this context, to be an accredited investor, you must meet either one of the following requirements: (1) have an individual net worth, or joint net worth with your spouse, of more than $1 million at the time you purchase an interest less the value of your primary residence (i.e. your main home), or (2) have an annual individual income of more than $200,000 or annual joint income with your spouse of more than $300,000 in each of the preceding 2 years and a reasonable expectation of the same level of individual or joint income in the current year (i.e. 2012, 2013, and 2014).
If the issuer of the EB-5 securities (which may or may not be an affiliate of the regional center) is relying on Regulation D, the issuer will likely require you to be accredited. If so, you must be accredited on the date you sign the subscription agreement to purchase EB-5 securities. If the issuer is relying on Regulation S, the issuer may not require you to be accredited; however, the issuer should in that case confirm there is an exemption under applicable state blue sky laws. Some states have no available exemption for EB-5 offerings to foreign individuals unless the investor is accredited.