EB-5 and Regional Center
Congress created the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category in 1990 for immigrants seeking to enter to engage in a commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and create at least 10 full-time jobs. The basic amount required to invest is $1 million, the amount may be $500,000 if the investment is made in a “targeted employment area.”
Approximately 10,000 numbers available for this preference each year, 3,000 are reserved for entrepreneurs who invest in targeted employment areas. A separate allocation of 3,000 visas is set aside for entrepreneurs who immigrate through a regional center pilot program. The pilot program has been renewed several times and is currently due to expire September 30, 2012.
An investment under the EB-5 pilot program must be made in a commercial enterprise located within a “regional center”, which is defined as “any economic unit, public or private which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, including increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job creation, or increased domestic capital investment.” 8 CFR Section 204.6(e)
A center is required to submit a proposal to the California Service Center for approval. It must show how it plans to focus on a geographical region within the United States and achieve the required growth by the means specified. Previously, no form and filing fee are required for submission of the center proposal.
Effective on November 23, 2010, a form I-924 is required to submit with the proposal to apply for regional center. As of today, the filing fee is $6230. Currently, majority investor applications are submitted through regional center. It is very important for potential investors to choose the right regional center before they invest any of their money to its commercials. Presumably, it is the immigration attorney’s role to provide some guidance on this issue.