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[Q] Can a regional center's EB-5 project engage in loan-making activity?
Of course, the question already assumes that a particular regional center has been designated as a regional center by USCIS for an investment structure involving pooling funds from investors and using such fund to make loan(s) to job-creating business(es). Otherwise, the answer would be "no". With this understanding, see below.
This question had already been answered in the affirmative by the precedent AAO case, Matter of Izummi case. Basically, a Regional Center project can form a limited partnership and receive capital contributions from individual EB-5 investors and then the limited partnership, as a new commercial enterprise, can make a loan to a job-creating business or businesses, as long as such investment structure has been submitted and approved by USCIS as a regional center.
Also, during October 19th 2009 AILA EB-5 Conference in San Francisco, CSC adjudicating officers present at the panel again specifically confirmed that "third-party" guarantee of the loan made by a limited partnership to the job-creating borrower (but not any guarantee on investor's investment into a limited partnership) is also permissible. Basically, we believe that any such guarantee has to fall within the real-world, commercial practices.