Under the basic EB-5 program, which predates the Pilot Program, an EB-5 investor may choose to invest in an enterprise that is not doing business as or operating under the auspices of a designated regional center.
An investment in a standalone project must create at least ten new full-time positions for directly employed U.S. workers within two years of the investor’s immigration to the United States. For standalone investors, indirect jobs, including the jobs of independent contractors, may not be counted. If the ten employees have not been hired at the time of filing the I-526 petition, the petition must be accompanied by a comprehensive business plan showing that ten qualified employees will be hired within two years.
The job creation requirement may also be satisfied through an investment in a “troubled business” that results in saving or creating at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers and the retention of jobs for at least two years at a level no less than the number of employees prior to the investment. A “troubled business” is one that has been in existence for at least two years and has had a net loss of at least 20% of the business’s net worth.
The minimum investment amount for a standalone project is determined in the same manner as for an investment in a regional center project – $500,000 where the job creating enterprise is primarily doing business in a “targeted employment area” (“TEA”) and $1,000,000 for non-TEA investments.
Management Role of the Investor
In both standalone and regional center investments, it must be shown that the investor will be engaged in the management of the new commercial enterprise, either through the exercise of day-to-day managerial control or through policy formulation (as opposed to maintaining a purely passive role). Under USCIS regulations, if the investor is a corporate officer or director or a limited partner in a partnership that provides the investor with rights, powers, and duties normally granted to limited partners, he or she will be considered sufficiently engaged in the management of the new commercial enterprise.