The EB-5 visa program allows alien entrepreneurs to achieve a U.S. green card status by investing in the United States. The investment must be a minimum of $1 million, or $500,000 in a targeted employment area (TEA), and meet certain job creation requirements. However, meeting these conditions and the array of filing requirements is extremely worthwhile since a successful application will provide a green card for the entrepreneur and all qualifying family members.

However, the process by which an entrepreneur applies for an EB-5 visa is fraught with complexity. The individual must develop a business plan while considering how economic realities will interact with certain aspects of the law. One such determination is whether to invest directly or through a regional center. Depending on one’s selection, there are certain differences in how program requirements can be achieved. Furthermore, one’s choice between direct investment and investment in a regional center will result in practical differences in day-to-day operations.

What can I Expect if I Invest in an EB-5 Project Directly?

While scenarios can certainly vary, direct investors are often solo entrepreneurs seeking to run their business personally or with a group of close family members or associates. Essentially, the entrepreneur is committed to devoting a significant amount of time and effort towards running the business.

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In a direct investment scenario, the commercial venture must provide for at least 10 full-time jobs within two years. These jobs can be newly created jobs or preserved jobs. However, for purposes of satisfying and removing the conditions placed on the EB-5 investor’s legal permanent resident status, the 10 new or preserved jobs must be held by individuals other than the investor’s own family members. Provided that this and other requirements have been met, the investor must file to have the conditions on his or her green card removed prior to the 2-year anniversary of his or her conditional status.  Notably, proceeding with a direct investment may well be fraught with risk as the job creation requirement is subject to interpretation by USCIS.  Accordingly, less than 2% of all EB-5 Investors utilize the direct investment model.  The vast majority elect to proceed through an EB-5 Regional Center.

What Can I Expect from an EB-5 Regional Center Investment?

For investments in an EB-5 Regional Center, there are many different types of entities and arrangements an investor can explore. However, prior to investing in any regional center or entity, the investor should ensure that she has performed all necessary due diligence. However, one relatively common form of organization for investments into Regional Centers is the partnership.

In EB-5 Regional Center general partnerships, it is common for the investor to serve as the limited partner. The limited partner may act as a board member and has certain other responsibilities, but he or she may not necessarily otherwise work in the business. A project manager is generally appointed as the general partner. He or she works to satisfy the job creation and other requirements placed on an EB-5 project.

One area where the Regional Center approach provides a significant benefit is that the job creation requirement can be satisfied through indirect jobs. Indirect jobs are the jobs created in the vicinity of the regional center due to the economic activity created by the investment. Allowing indirect jobs that were created or preserved to be counted towards the job creation requirement can permit for a more flexible approach to an EB-5 investment.

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Work with an EB-5 Visa Lawyer in Orlando, Florida

The above sets forth only two possible scenarios regarding a potential EB-5 investment. While an EB-5 investor must always satisfy the job creation, informational and filing, and other related requirements, approaches and experiences can vary significantly. Therefore, it is essential to work with a strategic Orlando immigration lawyer who can work to develop a plan that that fits your needs and is compliant with all legal requirements.

The attorneys of Colombo & Hurd are proud to assist with EB-5 visa applications and an array of immigration solutions for individuals and businesses. To schedule a confidential consultation at our Orlando or Miami law offices, call 800-659-7142 today. We can also arrange for consultations by phone or via Skype.