How does a direct EB-5 investment differ from an EB-5 regional center?
In just over a year, the number of public and private enterprises recognized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as EB-5 regional centers has rocketed from around 20 to 83.
The phenomenon can not entirely be contributed to a growing class of industrialists who are willing to take on a foreign investment to stimulate their businesses, as the number of EB-5 visas issued to new immigrants has also soared in recent years.
According to the U.S. State Department, that figure nearly tripled from 1,443 visas granted in fiscal year 2008 to 4,218 doled out in 2009.
While the EB-5 visa program is becoming a more viable investment resource for American businesses and immigrations alike, potential applicants must consider whether they wish to apply to the program at large, or gain entry through a certified EB-5 regional center.
Both options give foreign investors access to an expedited process for attaining a U.S. green card for themselves and their immediate family members, and the opportunity to become permanent residents after only two years.
However, the process and benefits an investor faces may alter depending on which path he or she chooses.
With most direct EB-5 investments, immigrants must endow at least $1 million to an American business and directly create at least 10 jobs in five years by virtue of that investment.
However, some experts believe that this process is facilitated by contacting an EB-5 regional center, through which the USCIS can actually match investors with an American startup or other business that is developing a strategy for growth.
As Kenneth Kousky, CEO of the EB-5 Michigan Regional Center explained to OurMidland.com, “There are several addition criteria a project must meet to be eligible for the [regional center] program.”
He continued, “The project must be either a new company or an existing company that has experienced a 40 percent drop in employment from the previous fiscal year. The company must be located in the authorized geographic area that includes those nine counties but excludes municipalities with populations of 20,000 or greater and the project must demonstrate and verify the economic impact on the regional economy – 10 direct, indirect or induced jobs per $500,000 invested for five years.”
Many investors choose to pursue an EB-5 regional center partly because of the investment requirement, relaxed job creation conditions and reduced obligation to be a part of the company’s management team.