The domestic job-creating investment sum required for an EB-5 visa approval is usually $1 million. Hopeful immigrant investors have two options for lowering the capital requirement for their EB-5 visa. One way is through investing in a targeted employment area, and the other in a regional center. The required investment sum for each is just $500,000, or half of the regular required capital investment.
A regional center is any economic unit with direct revenue that aids in economic growth primarily through job creation. The list of ways that a regional center can aid in economic growth include:
- Job creation
- Improved regional productivity
- Increased domestic capital investment
Originally, the requirement also included increased export sales activities, but that option has since been removed in further amendments. These amendments also further clarified that job creation is the primary qualification for a regional center designation. After all, boosting domestic U.S. jobs numbers was the true purpose of the EB-5 visa as set out in the Immigration Act of 1990.
In order for a business unit to qualify as a regional center, the investor immigrant must file a Form I-924 to petition for eligibility.
If you want to interest your capital in a regional center need to fill out a Form I-924 petition, which is also known as the Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program. Then you’ll need to file it with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) to get a business entity officially designated as a regional center. Form I-924 petitions must be approved before this business entity can receive investments to satisfy the reduced EB-5 investment requirement.
All regional center applications must include these elements:
- A filing fee of $17,795.
- Description of the defined geographical area.
- Explanation of how the location will aid the local economy.
- Evidence of how the business will create jobs through economic models or forecasts.
- Bank statements showing the source and amount of capital to be invested in the regional center.
- Projections to demonstrate how the business will positively affect the local economy and employment levels, including even the nation’s employment as well.
- Fully developed and written business plan.
Other Forms Required of Regional Centers
Once the initial Form I-924 is approved, and the regional center is official, you must now file a regional center annual report (Form I-924A) each year to demonstrate their continued eligibility for the regional center designation. Form I-924A has a filing fee of $3,035 and failing to file the annual report could result in the revoking of the regional center designation. Should the USCIS determine that the regional center is no longer promoting economic growth, it has the authority to revoke the business unit’s regional center designation.
The annual regional center report should include the following items:
- Filing fee of $3,035.
- The amount of EB-5 alien capital invested.
- Number of direct or indirect jobs created by the EB-5 investment.
- Total amount of jobs maintained by the investment.
- Industry or industries that are the focus of the investment.
- Evidence of job-creating enterprises in the regional center’s geographic area that received foreign investor capital.
- Total of Form I-526 and Form I-829 petitions, regardless of status (approved, denied, revoked, or pending) filed by alien investors within the regional center.
An amended Form I-924 must be filed when a regional center needs to change one of the following:
- Geographic location of the business.
- Organizational or administrative structure of the business.
- Affiliated commercial enterprise investment opportunities that would change the economic analysis and business plan used to estimate job creation in the previously approved petitions.
- Affiliated commercial enterprise’s capital investment instruments or offering memoranda.