The EB-5 visa program provides a pathway for foreign investors to obtain U.S. permanent resident status through investments in the U.S. economy. Foreign investors may invest either directly in an EB-5 project or through a regional center. There are several factors that make investing through a regional center more attractive to many EB-5 investors than direct investment.
Financial and Immigration Risk
Regional center EB-5 projects are thoroughly vetted to ensure that they pose low financial and immigration risk for investors. In addition, working with a regional center minimizes an EB-5 investor’s involvement in the day-to-day management of the EB-5 project and reduces the amount of paperwork investors need to file with their I-526 and I-829 petitions.
Direct investment may be a good fit for EB-5 investors who prefer to have more control over their capital and have the managerial expertise to work more in depth with their EB-5 projects. However, investors going the direct investment route need to make sure they conduct comprehensive due diligence to minimize their financial and immigration risk.
Minimum Required Investment Amounts
EB-5 projects located in a target employment area (TEA) have a minimum required investment of $900,000, whereas projects located outside of a TEA have a minimum required investment of $1.8 million. Regional centers projects are more likely than direct investment projects to be located in a TEA.
Job Creation Requirements
Regional center EB-5 investors can count direct, indirect, and induced jobs toward the EB-5 job creation requirement, whereas direct investors are only able to count direct jobs. Direct jobs are created by the EB-5 project—construction and payroll jobs. Indirect jobs are created by the businesses providing goods and services for the project. Induced jobs are created as a result of spending by the project’s employees in the community.
Regional center EB-5 investors can reside anywhere in the United States. They are not limited by the location of their projects, meaning they could live in California and still choose to invest in an EB-5 project in Florida. Direct investors, on the other hand, must live where their projects are located, which limits either the places the EB-5 investor can live or the EB-5 projects he or she can invest in.
EB-5 Visa Benefits
There are many benefits to obtaining an EB-5 visa. EB-5 visa holders can live and work anywhere in the United States without restrictions and have access to numerous business and investment opportunities. For those looking to study in the United States, an EB-5 visa also improves the chances of admission to U.S. colleges. After five years, EB-5 visa holders can apply for U.S. citizenship.