Many countries around the world have immigrant investment programs. The most successful of these programs are located in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Canada previously enjoyed success with attracting investment dollars; however, parts of its program have recently been closed. The United States immigrant investor program is called the EB-5 program, which is short for Employment Based 5th Preference. Successful completion of this program by foreign investors results in a permanent United States visa ( specifically, permanent residence or a green card for themselves and qualified family members at the time of filing the initial petition). The program requires immigrant investors to make an at-risk investment (one million dollars or $500,000 depending on the target of investment) that creates no fewer than 10 new American jobs.
If a foreign national invests $1 million (or $500,000 within a Targeted Employment Area) in a business that creates ten new American jobs, the immigrant investor is eligible to obtain a green card (permanent visa) for themselves and their qualifying family members. The program has many other conditions, such as maintaining the investment throughout the EB-5 conditional permanent residency period, increasing regional productivity, and other legal requirements. The program is divided into two distinct phases. In the first phase the immigrant investor is granted a conditional visa. After two years, the conditions on the visa are removed if the investor has proven the creation of 10 new American jobs, maintained the required amount of investment, and met the residency time requirement. At this point, the conditions of the visa are removed and residency status becomes permanent.
WHAT IS A DESIGNATED REGIONAL CENTER?
A Regional Center:
-Is an entity, organization or agency that has been approved as such by the USCIS. The pilot program with the coinciding federally-designated Regional Centers was approved by Congress under Section 610© of the Appropriations Act of 1993.
-Focuses on a specific geographic area within the United States;
seeks to promote economic growth through increased export sales, to improve regional productivity, to create new jobs, and to increase domestic capital investment.
-Facilitates the pooling of capital of multiple EB-5 investors in various enterprises
Investors can take credit applicable toward the lifting of visa conditionality for jobs created directly as well as indirectly from their investment in a Regional Center. Indirect job creation may be demonstrated using any reasonable, approved methodology. Indirect jobs are considered to be full-time jobs under this statute.
Congress gave the USCIS discretion to give priority to EB-5 applications filed in conjunction with a Regional Center. Midwest Investments of America offers many types of investments that meet the requirements for the Regional Center Program, such as the requirement that business enterprises must be located in the geographic areas of the Regional Centers. EB-5 applicants’ investments have limited management requirements and may meet the job creation requirements of the law using “indirect employment” based upon approved methodologies.
TYPES OF EB-5 INVESTMENTS
EB-5 Investments are broken into two categories: a direct investment by a foreign national into a particular business or an investment into a federally-designated Regional Center. The direct investment is just that – a targeted investment into a specific company. In the direct EB-5 investment, the investor is only allowed to utilize direct jobs to qualify for residency (a permanent green card for themselves and all qualified family members under 21 years old). The direct jobs are those new American jobs created within the company in which the foreign individual directly invested.
The second EB-5 investment category is one made through a Regional Center. This designation is granted by the USCIS to an entity that has satisfied requirements under the regional center regulations of the USCIS. This application process is rigorous and complex. Among many other requirements, the application must outline the Regional Center’s entire business plan and the job creation methodology that will be utilized to prove job creation through commercial enterprises that receive foreign investment. Once approved by the USCIS, a Regional Center program has much greater power to facilitate successful naturalization in that these programs can demonstrate job creation through pooling investor funds, as well as through accounting for indirect as well as direct jobs as a part of fulfilling this requirement. This is a very powerful tool that allows for greater leeway in demonstrating job creation. Simply stated, a Regional Center has greater flexibility in demonstrating job creation within the new commercial enterprise than a direct investment EB-5 application possesses.