What Are Immigrant Investor Regional Centers?


The immigrant investor regional program has been in operation for more than a quarter of a century. If you are an entrepreneur from overseas, you, your spouse and any unmarried children you have under 21 may be eligible to apply for permanent residence if you invest in the U.S. economy.

It’s known as the EB-5 Program and is administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Minority Business Development Agency

The program allows entrepreneurs and their family members to apply for green cards if they:

  1. Make the “necessary investment” in a U.S. business or a commercial enterprise. The investment must be a minimum of $1 million, or $500,000 if the money is invested in high-unemployment or rural areas, and,
  2. Create or preserve at least 10 permanent full-time jobs for “qualified U.S. workers.”

The EB-5 program was developed in 1990 during the George H.W. Bush presidency to boost jobs and overseas capital investment in an attempt to stimulate the economy. Two years later, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, which is also called the Regional Center Program. It’s not a unique concept to America. More than 25 other countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, operate a similar model.

Investors who create or retain at least 10 jobs can receive EB-5 visas that are set aside for them. Not every proposal qualifies. They must be submitted to USCIS, which assesses their potential to stimulate economic growth. The type of business that is eligible for an EB-5 visa is explained in more detail here.

Congress Widened Immigrant Investor Programs

The program was widened in scope by Congress which permitted Regional Centers to be designed if they could pool EB-5 capital from a number of foreign investors to fund projects that are approved in designated areas by USCIS.

As access to capital was severely curtailed in the recession of the late 2000s, EB-5 investment filled some of the gaps and provided a vital source of money to kick start economic development and infrastructure projects in local communities, states Invest in the USA. The not-for-profit industry trade association carried out a study in 2013 that found EB-5 investment programs contributed $3.58 billion to the country’s GDP and created about 41,000 new jobs.

Texas was one of the states that saw the highest level of capital investment with more than $115 million pumped into the economy in 2013 alone.

The complexity of the application system has deterred investors in the past. The process was streamlined in 2011 and the number of applicants jumped from 800 in 2007 to 3,800 in 2011.

Applying for an EB-5 visa remains challenging. At Peek Law Group, our seasoned immigration attorneys can help you through the process while ensuring you are protected. We have a long track record in representing people who invest in Texas. Call us at (512) 399-2311.

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