Regional Center (RC) is defined by USCIS as “any economic entity, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment.” Basically, the RC is an investment project approved by USCIS in terms of the geographic location, investment/economic structure, and job calculation methodology. Nonetheless, that approval does not mean a guarantee by the government that the investors will receive their green card by investing on that RC project.
As of June 2, 2014, USCIS had approved approximately 532 regional centers. The list of currently approved RCs may be found at www.uscis.gov/eb-5centers. As any other investment, there are more reliable RCs, and high risk RCs. The final decision of where to invest is made by investor who should take due diligence, including consulting with experts in the financial and legal fields, before deciding.
When looking for a RC to invest, we always advise our clients that the main purpose for this investment is to obtain permanent residence in the U.S., and not to obtain high financial return. Therefore, some of the characteristics to look for before choosing a RC are: (1) strong track records on all phases of the EB-5 procedures, including approvals of I-829, the final step to obtain the permanent green card; (2) transparent investment structure; (3) track records on recoup of the investments; (4) offering documents of the RC that not only contains a provision that money will be in escrow account until approval of I-526 Petition, but also a provision that the investor’s fund will be return in case of denial of the green card or Immigrant Visa.
Once chosen, the RC will work closely with the investor and his/her immigration attorney to file the I-526 petition, the first step of the process. Usually, a good RC will leave the invested money in an escrow account until the approval of the petition. After the petition is approved, the RC will capture the $500, and the investor, his/her spouse and children 21 years old and younger, will be able to apply for their green card, if in the U.S., or immigrant visa, if abroad. The investor and his/her family will then receive a conditional permanent residence (CPR) for two years. The RC will send periodic investment information to the investor. Three months prior to the expiration of the CPR, the immigration attorney will prepare to file form I-829 using updated documents provided by the RC to remove the condition on the green card. Once approved, the investor and his/her family will receive the permanent green card.
Some of the reasons for the RC popularity may be attributed to the facility and advantages that the RC project provides, including: The investment amount of $500k instead of $1M on RC located in a Target Employment Area (TEA), the use of a more expansive concept of job creations including both “indirect” and “direct” jobs; the lack of requirement to manage the day by day operation of the investment; and the freedom of the investor to work where he/she wants.
For further information regarding this topic or to schedule a consultation, please contact our office:
Schonberg & Timerman, P.L. at 954-843-3494.