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[HOT] What we think of various "marketing" statements of all regional centers


There are currently (as of May 28, 2010) over 100 USCIS-designated regional centers trying to attract foreign EB-5 investors. Now, a potential EB-5 investor will be confused after studying various statements from various regional centers, but the potential EB-5 investor should realize that often in this regional center game, anyone can make persuasive opposing arguments based on the same facts. Let me give you some examples.

1. Let's say a specific regional center got reviewed by AAO (AAO is an administrative appellate body reviewing USCIS' decisions on EB-5 cases) and was re-confirmed. The regional center whose EB-5 case was reviewed and reconfirmed could make a strong argument that their regional center is stronger for the fact that it was reviewed by AAO and was found to comply with EB-5 law, and this argument would probably be persuasive to immigration attorneys who probably would agree with this statement. But other regional centers could argue that their investment structure has never gotten reviewed by AAO, so their investment structure is better. Now, who is right?

2. One regional center could say that their investment structure is very safe, and other regional centers could say that the subject investment structure is too safe so that USCIS may have some problems with it.

3. Let's say one regional center does have non-EB-5 investors participating in a specific project. This regional center could argue that their project is stronger and more bona-fide because even non-EB-5 investors participate in their EB-5 projects. Other regional centers could argue that this causes a conflict between two groups of investors.

4. One regional center working with a state or city government can claim "we are more trustworthy because we work with governments". To our cynical eyes, it could be true or false. Some government can be desperate and not really know about EB-5 law, so they can make statements without detailed knowledge of EB-5 law. Moreover, not all governmental agencies are well-versed in EB-5 requirements; in fact, an EB-5 project where a private enterprise is solely in charge may be better and more capable. We would say in a more naive market, the government involvement argument may carry some force, but in a more sophisticated market, perhaps not.

Now, you see what we are getting at? Basically, the same facts, viewed from different perspectives, can appear to be good or bad: it all depends on the viewers and/or viewers' intent or desire. Since we naturally tend to be skeptical as attorneys, our opinion is go with the track record, but even this recommendation may not be right in all circumstances. For example, what if a regional center has 400 permanent green card approvals but 2 permanent card denials, whereas another regional center has 50 permanent green card approvals but ZERO permanent green card denials? How about 10 permanent green card approvals and ZERO permanent green card denials? Which one would you say has a stronger track record? Well, you would have to find about the reason for denials first.

5. Some regional centers say they offer a third-party insurance protection for the investors. Personally, I don't care if this is legal and in compliant with the EB-5 law, but examiners might disagree, so I would say this factor does not add anything.

Complicating this fact is that USCIS can issue certain guidances at any time, modifying certain aspects of EB-5 law which can be a game changer. In other words, certain guidances even slightly changing EB-5 law or requirement can make previous false statement true, and previous true statements false.

Anyway, all we are trying to say is that it's very hard for potential EB-5 investors to decide on a regional center for himself/herself, but often, it's not because the representations of regional centers are false, but because different arguments can be made based on the same facts. That's why maybe you might consider retaining an immigration attorney who really knows this EB-5 regional center game is played and its history, because when you come down to it, the history is the best (however imperfect) guide to the future.

* As a side note, people often ask me how come if we know a lot about EB-5 law, we don't establish a regional center of our own. First, although it's not too difficult to establish a regional center, we feel it's extremely difficult to put together a good team, market and operate a regional center that has a very high likelihood (95% or higher success rate based on at least 100 permanent green card approvals) of satisfying EB-5 investors' interests and demands. This is because of shifting positions by USCIS, potential delays, uncertainties in EB-5 law, too much politicking going on and too much competition. You can think you have a great business plan for a great regional center, and due to a worsening economy, have the rug pulled under you.

** Let me leave you with one advice. The most important question to ask as a potential EB-5 investor is this: "How will enough jobs be created within the time-frame demanded by USCIS, and how will you evidence the job-creation as required by CIS?" Then comes: "How will you try to lessen the likelihood of a total or partial loss on my initial investment amount?"

*** However, it does seem to me that most regional centers are composed of people who sincerely believe in their EB-5 projects and investment structure. But again, some cynics would say the ignorance breeds sincerity. All I know is that every regional centers I talked to thinks their regional center is the best product out there.