The Regional Center (Pilot) Program
The Immigrant Investor Pilot Program (“Pilot Program”) was created by Section 610 of Public Law 102-395 (October 6, 1992). This is different in certain ways from the basic EB-5 investor program. The Pilot Program began in accordance with a Congressional mandate aimed at stimulating economic activity and creating jobs for U.S. workers, while simultaneously affording eligible aliens the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents. Through this innovative program, foreign investors are encouraged to invest funds in an economic unit known as a “Regional Center.”
A Regional Center is defined as any economic unit, public or private, engaged in the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment that has been designated and approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).
Basic requirements of investment through the Pilot Program:
- Capital investment of $500,000; (if located in a designated “TEA” or “RA” area)
- Must be able to document the lawful source of the investment funds;
- Must be able to pass an extensive background check and physical examination;
- Must create either directly or indirectly, a minimum of 10 jobs;
- Must satisfy all USCIS conditions upon completion of the project;
The requirements for an investor under the Pilot Program are essentially the same as in the basic EB-5 investor program except the Pilot Program allows for a less restrictive requirement for “indirect” rather than “direct” job creation. Most USCIS approved Regional Centers are also located in what is called a “Targeted Employment Area” (“TEA”) or a “Rural Area” (RA) in which the required investment is just $500,000 as opposed to the $1 million investment required by other basic EB-5 investor programs.
Indirect Job Creation: An important advantage to obtaining Regional Center designation is the “indirect” nature of the job creation, which is less difficult to achieve than the “direct” creation of 10 new jobs. The requirement of creating at least 10 new full-time jobs may be satisfied by showing that, as a result of the investment and the activities of the new enterprise, at least 10 jobs will be created indirectly through an employment creation multiplier effect.
Targeted Employment Area (TEA): A “TEA” is a geographic area or political subdivision located within a metropolitan statistical area or within a city or town with a population in excess of 20,000 with an unemployment level at least 150% of the national unemployment rate. TEAs within a state are identified and designated by the governor (and for a TEA within the District of Columbia, designation is made by the Mayor). Typically a Regional Center seeks to encompass one or more TEAs.
Rural Area: A “RA” is a geographical area that is outside a metropolitan statistical area, or part of the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or less as shown by population indicators. In certain areas involving a sparsely populated state, an approved statewide Regional Center likely encompasses both TEAs and RAs.