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EB 5 Green Card Investment in Regional Centers Explained

Steven A. Culbreath

Visitors: 579

The EB-5 Green Card was created in the 1990s by what was INS in order to create employment in the United States by attracting foreign investment ‘in exchange for’ lawful permanent resident status.

While typically an investment of at least $1 million is required, under certain limited circumstances, a reduced investment of $500,000 is acceptable. One of these circumstances is a qualifying investment in a government-approved Regional Center investment program.

The various EB-5 Regional Center Investment Programs are designed to enable foreign investors to qualify for permanent residence in the United States (i. e. a “green card") by investing $500,000 in a Regional Center. In addition to the investment itself, each regional center has some form of ‘application’ or ‘participation’ fee, which can be up to $50,000. The USCIS also charges application fees for the green card application. In many cases, there will also be legal fees.

In all cases, the Regional Center and a private management company set up an investment entity as a limited partnership or limited liability companies. The investment entity either acquires an ownership interest in some type of asset (such as real estate) or the entity makes low interest loans to government or private borrowers.

Prior to investing, any prospective foreign investor should review the prospectus with detailed information about the investment. It is always advisable to have this information carefully reviewed by specialists in business law and accounting.

The various Regional Centers Investment Programs have widely different philosophies. Some focus on maximizing the return on the investment. Some focus on ensuring a return of the investor's $500,000 investment. Some focus on ensuring an exit strategy as soon as possible. The current law authorizing the EB-5 Regional Center Investment Program is set to expire on September 30, 2008. Most authorities expect the U. S. government to reauthorize the program, but with the political climate it is unclear whether reauthorization will occur before or after the sunset date. Reauthorization bills have been introduced into Congress as parts of other pieces of legislation and are still pending.

There is consensus among the various Regional Center Investment Programs that any green card application submitted before the September sunset date will remain eligible to receive a green card.

It cannot be confirmed at this point, what might happen in September ‘08, or how USCIS will handle cases around that time. Guidance from USCIS should be forthcoming some time this summer. In light of this information, it would be sensible for interested individuals to do the following:

1. If you are seriously interested in an EB-5 Regional Center investment, then complete the investment and application as soon as possible.

2. Make sure that any investment includes an agreement to refund the investment and all or part of the program fees if a green card is not issued to the investor (this includes approval of both parts of the application process: the I-536 petition and the background check).

3. Have an alternative immigration strategy in place in case EB-5 Regional Center green card processing is delayed or halted.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact me, using either the contact form on the FRONT PAGE, or by clicking on one of the email addresses at the bottom of any page.

Steven A. Culbreath, Esq.
Immigration Lawyer

Immigration = Opportunities Possibilities.
Let me show you how.

Visit my website and blog. Contact me for a consultation.


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