The EB5 visa or Immigrant Investor Program allows foreign investors to invest in qualifying projects and, in return, permanently live and work in the United States.
This guide will provide insights on properly conducting due diligence, helping you understand how investors like you can find suitable EB5 projects that align with your investment goals.
EB5 Visa Overview
Before delving into the specifics of finding an appropriate EB5 project, it is vital first to understand the fundamental aspects of the program.
The EB5 visa was created to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. To participate, you must invest a minimum amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) that directly or indirectly generates or preserves at least ten full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers.
The minimum investment varies depending on whether the project is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or a non-TEA. For an investment in a TEA, the minimum investment is $800,000. For a non-TEA, the investment increases to $1.05 million at minimum.
For a more in-depth EB5 visa guide, read our comprehensive guide.
Direct Investment in a New Commercial Enterprise (NCE)
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an NCE is an enterprise established on or after November 29, 1990. If the business is established after that date, it can still qualify as an NCE if it is reorganized or restructured to expand it with a 40% increase in employee count or net worth. A troubled business can also qualify if it has been operating for at least two years before your investment, incurring a net loss during a one or two-year period before your Form I-526 priority date.
Your NCE investment can be in a TEA for a minimum of $800,000. If in a non-TEA, the minimum investment rises to $1.05 million.
The USCIS defines a TEA as a rural area or a high-unemployment area with an unemployment rate of a minimum of 150% of the national average. A rural area is any area outside a metropolitan statistical area, city, or town with 20,000 or more inhabitants.
If you decide to invest in an NCE in any industry, you can operate as a sole proprietor, work in a partnership or joint venture capacity, or invest in other qualifying entities conducting for-profit lawful business. You will have to play an active role in the NCE’s daily operations as part of its management, thus making it suitable if you want direct control over the enterprise’s operations and general decision-making.
NCE Due Diligence Tips
Review the NCE’s market feasibility analysis or study
Since this for-profit enterprise conducts lawful business, its success relies on understanding the demand for its offerings, which is analyzed in a market feasibility study. Thus, we recommend you thoroughly review this and ensure the research is conducted by an experienced firm that understands the NCE industry. Ensure the projections are on par with or, even better, exceed the minimum of 10 job creations to ensure you do not fall short on one of the most important requirements of the EB5 visa.
Scrutinize the business plan
Review the business plan to understand the project’s goals, market analysis, revenue projections, and exit strategy. Ensure the plan is well-researched and realistic and clearly outlines the potential to create ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers. A solid market research should demonstrate the investment project’s relevance and potential for success.
Ensure valid data is utilized
For instance, if investing in a TEA, ensure your Form I-526 includes recent U.S. Census Bureau data signifying that your project’s location is in a rural area or outside a metropolitan statistical area with less than 20,000 population or a place with a high unemployment rate. Including this census data will help the USCIS approve the TEA qualification.
Assess the management team
Research the NCE’s management team’s background, expertise, and track record. A capable and experienced team increases the likelihood of project success. This also ensures the investment is legitimate.
Indirect Investment in a Regional Center Project
Aside from investing in an NCE, you can also indirectly invest in a regional center project in a TEA. These EB5 projects offer a way to get a green card via passively investing in beneficial projects such as constructing a nursing home or hospital, among others. These EB5 projects are often located in economically struggling and impoverished areas. This is suitable if you seek to invest without actively participating in the project’s daily operations, unlike with an NCE investment.
When indirectly investing in a regional center project, most EB5 investors refer to and choose suitable EB5 projects through government-certified public or private facilities. EB5 regional center projects work by pooling various investor capitals into the government’s economic development projects.
As of April 4, 2023, the USCIS has a list of 640 approved regional centers. You can choose from this list in any area you prefer. Note that your chosen project’s location will not bind you. You can still live and work anywhere you prefer in the country.
Regional Center Project Due Diligence Tips
Evaluate the regional center’s track record
Look for regional centers with a proven track record of successful EB5 projects. Review their historical performance, project completion rates, and job creation history.
Research the EB5 regional center of your choosing
Since this is an indirect or passive investment, regional centers are the ones responsible for overseeing the investments they sponsor. Despite that, we still recommend conducting thorough research and asking the regional center’s management for a copy of their policies and procedures.
Review the regional center’s designation letter
Ensuring your chosen regional center project is in good standing with the USCIS EB5 program is prudent. Review their latest I-924A form to ensure the project is current and compliant with the latest regulations.
Review the regional center’s economic analysis
Regional centers rely on economic analyses to gain insight into various aspects of the project, especially the potential to create or preserve ten full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers. We recommend you review their analysis, as insufficient projections will negatively impact your ability to gain permanent residency. The job creation requirement is crucial.
Ensure you read the project’s investor refund policy to understand under what conditions you can get a refund in case the project does not push through or you change your chosen regional center.
Look into various aspects of the project:
Business plan with a detailed business model and financial projections
Job creation projection and strategy
Escrow management or administration
Consult with an Experienced EB5 Immigration Attorney or EB5 Broker
There is no one way to find the right investment EB5 projects for you. It is best to research your options, conduct due diligence, and consult with an immigration attorney specializing in the EB-5 visa, as it is one of the most complex visa categories in the U.S. Ensure your immigration attorney has a track record of successful EB5 applications.
You can also consult with EB5 brokers, who are licensed to recommend specific EB5 projects that align with your objectives and budget. Working with a team of experienced EB5 experts can help determine if your chosen project could work with a regional center or direct investment model. They can also assist you in finding the right project and properly structuring the transactions involved.
Contact Immigration Business Plan for a Free Consultation
Immigration Business Plan’s team of experienced EB5 immigration attorneys and professional business plan writers is here to guide you every step toward your EB5 visa application.
We offer free consultations and can help you find and analyze suitable EB5 projects for your needs and objectives. Message us here.