All about EB-5 and Regional Centers

In this segment, attorney Jacob Sapochnick Esq., discusses the EB-5 visa program and Regional Center investments. For more information about the EB-5 program please click here.


What is EB-5?

The EB-5 is a visa that allows an immigrant to obtain permanent residence in the United States based on an investment in a new commercial enterprise. The amount of funds that must be invested will depend on whether the investor will be investing in a project through a Regional Center. Under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(5), 10,000 immigrant visas per year are available to qualified individuals seeking permanent resident status on the basis of their engagement in a new commercial enterprise. To qualify for the EB-5 program, you must either invest half a million dollars in a Regional Center project or invest a million dollars in a new commercial enterprise (regular EB-5).

What is a Regional Center?

A regional center is a government designated program where investors invest up to half a million dollars together and throughout this process gain permanent residency. Currently, there are 864 regional centers throughout the United States, with projects in various different sectors including real estate, energy, export, wineries, etc. EB-5 is a popular program because investors are not required to physically or actively participate in the business they are investing in. They must however, invest funds into a new commercial enterprise or regional center and go through the necessary process.

Investors who are interested in a regional center project must be active in selecting a regional center. Attorneys cannot advise regional center clients on which regional center they should select. Attorneys can however provide general information and the pros and cons of working with a regional center. Attorneys can also warn individuals against making risky investments. Investors must do their homework and learn about the different regional centers and what type of project they would like to invest in. Attorneys cannot be actively involved in this process.

Typically once the regional center provides the agreement to the investor, the investor must sign the agreement and put down a deposit. Afterward, the application process for the EB-5 program begins

  1. First investors must complete the I-526 application. This application allows the investor to obtain a conditional 2-year green card. It is conditional because the government wants to ensure that the funds have been invested and all other requirements of the EB-5 visa program have been met during the first 2 years of the project. If the application is properly filed and the investment funds are legitimate and verified, the I-526 application should be approved within approximately 8 months of filing.
  2. Once the I-526 application is approved, the investor can proceed and file Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence to apply for the permanent residence card. Once the green card application is properly filed it can take up to 6-10 months to receive the conditional green card.
  3. To remove the conditions on the green card, investors must submit the I-828 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions before their green card expires.
  4. What happens to the funds at the end of the process will depend from regional center to regional center. Generally, there are ways for investors to get their funds back by selling their share in the project, etc.

To learn more about other types of investment visas please click here. Please call our office for a consultation.

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