As part of an initiative to attract investment funds to the United States, the government approved the Regional Center program under the EB-5 investor visa program in the 1990s. The Regional Center program allowed for the creation of Regional Centers, either privately or publicly owned, that could direct funds from EB-5 investments within a certain geographic area. This program, since the 1990s, has been renewed by Congress as a pilot program over and over. Now that certain changes to immigration policy have taken effect, Regional Centers are here to stay as a permanent fixture of the EB-5 investor visa program.
What’s a Regional Center?
More specifically, an EB-5 Regional Center, which is established as a business entity, receives and manages investment funds from foreign investors under the EB-5 program. As an entity dedicated to promoting economic growth within the boundaries of the Regional Center, the Center will take the funds and invest them into businesses within the region. By leveraging the investment funds of multiple investors, the investments which are made through Regional Centers are generally much more likely to become a success because each Regional Center has a staff dedicated to finding the best investment opportunities.
The Major Benefit of Working with a Regional Center
Perhaps the biggest benefit to working with a Regional Center is the fact that investors don’t have to be directly involved with the process of finding and directing investments. They can put their investment funds into the care of a Regional Center and the Center will do the rest. This is a great option for foreign investors who want to qualify for the EB-5 visa but who may not have the business background or the time to manage and direct investments solo.
Qualifying for the EB-5
To qualify for an EB-5 visa, a foreign investor must invest a substantial amount of capital into a U.S. based business venture. The capital must be at least $1,000,000, unless the investment is being made into a pre-designated area where investment funds are badly needed – in which case, the minimum investment amount is cut in half to $500,000. In addition to the minimum amount of capital needed to qualify under the program, an investment made must create at least 10 new jobs for the American workforce (if the funds are invested into a new venture), or must expand a business’ operations by 40%, either in terms of employees or net worth (if the funds are invested into an existing business venture).
Working with Legal Counsel
Perhaps the best way to go about applying for an EB-5 investor visa is to do it with the help of an immigration and visa attorney. An immigration and visa attorney can help the EB-5 applicant become eligible for an EB-5 visa under program requirements and, once eligible, can help the applicant move forward with the application process. Once all the paperwork is filled out and submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, the attorney will keep the applicant informed on the status of his or her application until a visa decision is made by immigration officials.