What are EB-5 regional centers all about?
In the current economic climate, there are more than just a few business owners who could use a little extra capital to expand their businesses, create jobs, or push into more competitive markets.
Some of these entrepreneurs and capitalists have recognized how the EB-5 visa program, a government initiative run through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), represents an ideal way to promote investment by tapping into international markets.
The program invites foreign nationals to invest a minimum of $500,000, or $1 million in some areas, to a U.S. business and create at least 10 jobs in exchange for a quick route to a U.S. green card.
One way companies have been able to access these eager investors is by being recognized as an EB-5 regional center.
A business can obtain designation as an EB-5 regional center by filing an application with the USCIS that details the type of business that will receive capital from investors, the jobs that they expect to be directly or indirectly created as result of the investment, and other economic impacts that may occur.
In addition, as Ron Drinkard, director of the Alabama Center for Foreign Investment, explained to NPR, “To qualify [for investment], a company needs to show loss of a minimum of 20 percent of its net worth in the past 12 to 24 months.”
He added, “There’s virtually not a company out there that couldn’t show that right now.”
In theory, becoming an EB-5 regional center improves a business’ chances of receiving a substantial investment. The USCIS can issue up to 10,000 green cards each year through the at-large EB-5 visa program, but 3,000 green cards are specifically reserved for distribution by EB-5 regional centers.
However, if needed, the pool of regional centers may surpass that number.
In just over a year, the number of public and private enterprises recognized by the USCIS as EB-5 regional centers has rocketed from around 20 to 83.
Projects that are in development or have already received foreign investment include the development of a 45-story hotel in Washington state, the construction of a facility that will manufacture portable dialysis machines, the expansion of a commercial ski resort in Vermont and the development of a car plant specializing in hybrid vehicles.
Startups or small companies planning for substantial growth may make perfect candidates for the EB-5 visa program.