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Regional Centers -- Features, Benefits & Requirements


[Q] Do all Regional Centers require only $500,000 investment, exclusive of any issue expenses?

Note that Regional Center concept has nothing to do with the amount of investment; it has everything to do with the way you are allowed to create jobs -- directly, indirectly and induced. Therefore, a Regional Center can, and often do, require $1 Million USD investment. The TEA concept governs the amount of investment, not RC concept. That's why an easy way to remember is to repeat "It's good to have TEA in RC".

[Q] How much and how long would a Regional Center designation request/proposal take?

It can cost anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000 USD to prepare a RC designation request or proposal, and it can take anywhere between 1 to 2 years. Also, getting a RC designation does not automatically lead to EB-5 investors lining up at your door. The RC market is becoming very competitive, like any business.

[Q] What percentage of EB-5 cases are Regional Center EB-5 cases?

Although we cannot be certain, we would say RC based EB-5 cases are between 70% ~ 80%.

[Q] Any chance that the TEA amount of $500,000 USD might be increased in future?

We believe there is a possibility that this amount might be raised in future -- but not until 2011 or later. There are some talks on this issue, but we would personally not be surprised if this happens. Do we agree or like it? No. But is there some likelihood? Yes.

[Q] What is the EB-5 requirement/obligation of investor-petitioner to participate in either management or policy-making decisions of the NCE involved in Regional Centers' EB-5 projects?

The investor must be "active" in the management of the investment by engaging in the management of the new commercial enterprise, either through day-to-day managerial control or through policy formation. However, the law does specifically allow that an investor will qualify as a "limited partner" as defined in the Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act. 

The Limited Partnership (the "LP") meets all the regulation requirements by enrolling the investor in the investment as a limited partner. This role allows the investor to continue to engage in his or her own business without needing to participate in the day-to-day management operations. However, the limited partner is required to participate in the formation of policy activities for the Partnership.

[Q] If I-526 petition that I submit through a featured RC's EB-5 project is denied, will I be refunded the investment amount?

Yes. If the petition was submitted in good faith, the full investment will be returned to the account from which the funds originated.

[Q] How is Investor-limited partner interest protected for the featured RC's EB-5 project?

The USCIS requires that some financial risk be involved so all Regional Centers and/or immigration attorneys cannot guarantee the return of the investment to individual EB-5 investors, but the featured Regional Centers make best efforts to minimize the amount of risk by making sure that the investment loans are properly collateralized and that the borrowing companies are in strong financial standing. All limited partners will receive semi-annual reports with financial and partnership information from the General Partner.

[Q] How many immigrant visas per year are allotted to Regional Center and Targeted Employment Area EB-5 cases?

he EB-5 program allots 10,000 visas per year for aliens and family members whose qualifying investments result in the creation or preservation of at least ten (10) full-time jobs for U.S. workers. Three thousand immigrant (3,000) of these visas are set-aside for aliens who invest through regional centers. In addition, 3,000 immigrant visas are allotted to TEA EB-5 cases. Putting together, this means, if certain RC EB-5 project combines both RC and TEA features, 6,000 IVs are available for picking under the current system. That's interesting.

[Q] Who was to blame for the Regional Center Program being stagnant for many years?

Well, it really depends on who you talk to. Some will say say it was USCIS who suddenly changed their EB-5 policies and put in all kinds of restrictions that made the Regional Center Program an unworkable vehicle to attract foreign investors.

[Q] Why has regional center program meandered for many years and then made a sudden come-back after 2002?

[Q] It is my understanding that Regional Center Program meandered for many years from 1995 to 2002 and then starting around 2003, made a resurgence of sort. Is there specific reasons for this?

Yes, without the changes in the EB-5 law, we believe the Regional Centers would have continued to meander and never have taken off. What were the important statutory amendments? They were:

  • Doing away with the job-creation requirement that were related to export activities of the region, and allowing the job-creation from any investment activities in the region;
  • Doing away with the establishment of new commercial enterprise requirement by the investor, and allowing third-parties rather than investors to first create a new commercial enterprise, i.e., limited partnerships first and then attract investors -- per real-world commercial demands;
  • Reaffirming that a limited partnership is included in the definition of "new commercial enterprise";
  • and

[Q] Where should the Regional Center designation proposal/request be sent? Any info on mailing procedure?

USCIS has released the following statement in January 2009.

Please send Regional Center Proposals to:

USCIS California Service Center
ATTN: EB5 RC Proposal
P O Box 10526
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-0526

Or

For non-US Postal Service:

USCIS California Service Center
ATTN: EB5 RC Proposal
24000 Avila Road, 2nd Floor
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

In addition, please place a cover sheet (preferably in RED) on top of your proposal packet with BIG BOLD LETTERS "EB5 RC PROPOSAL" so that the contractor can more easily identify them and not reject them.


[Q] In which region(s) of the U.S. are most numbers of designated regional centers located?

For various reasons, the Western parts of the United States have the most number of designated regional centers, and to a lesser extent, some Eastern states. Perhaps it's because it's easier to set up projects, or because they are the areas where foreign investors and families want to emigrate, or those are the areas where the principals of the regional centers live and work. Not sure of the reasons, but those are the facts.

[Q] Some people say direct, individual EB-5 case will get investor LPR status w/o going through CPR status. True?

[Q] Some people tell me that direct, individual $1 Million USD EB-5 case will get you LPR status directly without having to go through CPR status, as opposed to regional center EB-5 case. Is this true or false?

Absolutely false. All EB-5 cases, whether Regional Center or non-Regional Center, regardless of the amount of requisite fund, have to go through Conditional Permanent Resident (CPR) status first, before fulfilling all requirements for applying for I-829 conditions removal to obtain LPR status. Don't think there is any additional immigration benefit by investing more money. That's just not the case.

[Q] Do regional centers have their own U.S. immigration attorneys to prepare EB-5 petitions for Investors?

Most Regional Centers, for consistency purposes, may have their own designated, preferred, recommended, or allowable U.S. immigration attorneys for EB-5 investors. From an efficiency point of view, the RCs want to work with experienced U.S. immigration attorneys who can represent the Investors well; but at the same time, from a marketing point of view, the RCs might have to work with any U.S. immigration attorneys to have a greater chance of attracting Investors to their EB-5 Projects. It all depends on the philosophy and needs of a particular RC. Obviously, any RC would probably like to work with a proven U.S. immigration attorneys who know their system and requirements.

[Q] What are the general roles of the General Partner in the Limited Partnership entity which acts as a new commercial entity?

This differs for each designated regional center, but in general, the General Partner is the entity that is running the day-to-day activities of the Limited Partnership (new commercial enterprise). They follow the changes or progress of the EB-5 project, monitors the job-creation developments, reports to Investors, answer your questions, and then also calls for voting on any significant issues that require voting of limited partners pursuant to the limited partnerships. In some limited number of regional centers, the General Partner may also work with a governmental economic development agencies on these matters. In most regional centers, the participation of the limited partner investors are pretty "limited", meaning you can reside anywhere in the U.S.