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Regional Centers -- Features, Benefits & Requirements

[Q] Can I apply for a regional center designation in an area where there already are several approved regional centers?

Yes, there is no limit to the number of regional centers USCIS can approve within a state or city. Actually, in our opinion, USCIS should set a limit on the number of regional centers they can approve every year, due to budget and staff constaints.

[Q] What is an "exemplar" project?

It's akin to a model type project -- a model type of project hypothetical project. Actually, an "exemplar" project can be either a hypothetical or "actual, shovel-ready" project; and the current pre-approval process allows for the pre-approval of both types of projects via either "exemplar" pre-approval procedure or amendment pre-approval procedure. Therefore, the name "exemplar" does not indicate whether the underlying project is a model type of project or an actual project.

[HOT] [Q] Are new employees of retail tenants indirect or direct jobs of the EB-5 project?

Employees of retail tenants of a new shopping center project do not appear to fit neatly into any of the below definitions. I would think they have to be defined as "direct" jobs, but USCIS has yet to provide a clear answer to the question of where these jobs fall under.

Direct jobs are those jobs that establish an employer-employee relationship between the commercial enterprise and the persons that they employ. Regional centers typically use the RIMS II or IMPLAN economic models to determine the number of indirect jobs that will be created through investments in the regional center’s investment projects.

[Q] Can a regional center based EB-5 project pool the fund and invest in multiple, job-creating projects and divide total jobs?

Although it is legally permissible, practically, it is very difficult to divide up the pooled investment in multiple job-creating projects at the same time. USCIS' statements indicate as much.

[Q] What is the actual effect of Mayorkas' letter to Senator Leahy stating that indirect/induced jobs outside the RC area can count for a RC project?

In reality, not that much, because there needs to be some reasonable basis to go outside the regional center geographic area and count indirect/induced jobs effect. In other words, there needs to be some persuasive reason or evidence, and the geographic areas where a majority of inputs occur should determine the geographic area whose multipliers should be used.

[Q] Is the pre-approval process via exemplar or amendment procedure really helpful?

Our opinion is that the "pre-approval" procedure is not that helpful, mainly because CSC takes too long -- 4 to 5 months -- to issue a pre-approval. This is puzzling because in the recent past, CSC had encouraged EB-5 practitioners to go through the "pre-approval" process to speed up the I-526 review/adjudication process.

Also, we heard that CCS is questioning even the RC based projects which they themselves pre-approved, undermining the entire pre-approval procedure.

[Q] Are there EB5 regional centers with track record of both I-829 approvals and the return of investment?

As of March 12, 2011, we know at least one EB5 regional center possessing an extensive track record of both I-829 approvals and return of investments.

As of March 12, 2011, we know several EB5 regional centers with "many" (50 or more) I-829 approvals.

[Q] Which states have most number of EB-5 regional centers?

FL, CA, WA and NY states appear to have most number of EB-5 regional centers.

[Q] Can regional centers encompass the entire state or the entire United States?

Legally speaking, there is nothing in the EB-5 law that says the entire United States cannot form a regional center geographical area. However, to date, there is no regional center with the entire USA as its scope.

Some regional center designations have also managed to include the entire state.

[Q] Is getting a pre-approval for a regional center based EB-5 project mean that I-526s will be approved more quickly?

Don't bet on it. Getting a pre-approval for a regional center based EB-5 project will not lead to quicker adjudications of I-526s or guarantee approvals. At best, having a pre-approval will probably increase the likelihood of CSC examiners approving I-526s, but no guarantee.

[Q] Does USCIS publish I-526 and I-829 track records for regional centers?

No. USCIS doesn't have the resources or staff to really do this kind of stuff. The reason? All the money received from EB-5 cases do not go into supporting EB-5 services, but instead, get drained for usage in other areas of immigration. Therefore, large filing fees for EB-5 cases do not lead to better services for EB-5 cases.

[Q] Does USCIS require managers or operators of regional centers to undergo individual background checks?

No, any individual willing to spend money can set up a regional center. Theoretically, even a person who previously has a fraud conviction can set up a regional center.

[Q] Can I designate the entire USA as a regional center area?

Good try, but USCIS has rarely even approved the entire single state as a regional center, although it has done so in a few occasions. One legal reason for this is that the regulations require the regional center area to be "contiguous" area.