Regional Center FAQ
- How the Regional Center plans to focus on a geographical region within the United States and how the Regional Center will achieve the required economic growth within this regional area.
- How in verifiable detail (often with the assistance of economic models prepared by economists) jobs will be created directly or indirectly through capital investments made in accordance with the Regional Center’s business plan.
- The amount and source of capital committed to the project and the promotional efforts made and planned for the business project.
The USCIS keeps a list of approved Regional Centers by state which you can access here. Keep in mind that not all Regional Centers on the list have current projects. Also, there are many, many more Regional Centers in the approval pipeline and the total number of approved Regional Centers is expected to double within the next year or two so the competition for foreign investors will get even fiercer. There is a misconception that Regional Centers are government entities. They are not, just like a bank, while required to meet federal and state regulations, is not. There are a couple of Regional Centers which are publicly run, but the vast majority of Regional Centers are for-profit private entities. (A general description about the EB-5 program can be found here.)
Any project that can create 10 full-time jobs per investor can potentially be structured as an EB-5 investment. It’s just that in New York we don’t have wind farms or ski resorts – just buildings.) In February 2001, The Wall Street Journal featured a story about EB-5s as a source of alternative capital which you can read here. (You know you’ve gone mainstream when the WSJ starts covering your industry.) Another driving force behind the boom of EB-5s is that Canada, among other changes, recently changed its minimum investment immigration threshold from approximately $200,000 to $400,000 making the U.S. EB-5s more attractive to overseas investors looking to immigrate to North America.
This is achieved through various economic models such as RIMS II or IMPLAN. Without going into too much detail, basically the USCIS will accept indirect job numbers that can be deduced through the amount of investment, the location of the proposed project and the particular industry cluster that the project belongs to. Therefore, at the I-829 stage, the investor only has to show that the project went ahead according to the original business plan with the required funds expended to meet the job creation requirement.
Admittedly this is a very simplified explanation of the process, but suffice it to say that this is a good thing – and sure beats gathering payroll information for all the employees, keeping track of construction jobs, and then finding out that one of the employees had false papers so can’t be counted.
On the other hand, if you have a project (or two) that needs alternative financing, getting your project “adopted” by an existing Regional Center operating in your particular region could be a more attractive option.