To encourage immigration through the immigrant investor category, U.S. Congress created the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program in 1993. The Pilot Program makes EB-5 visas available to immigrants who have invested the required amount of capital in a project established by or operating under the auspices of a designated regional center. A regional center is an entity, organization, or agency that has been approved as such by USCIS, which:
- Focuses on a specific geographic area within the United States; and
- Seeks to promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, or increased domestic capital investment.
A prospective investor seeking an immigrant visa under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program must show:
- His or her qualifying investment project is doing business within the approved area and under the auspices of a designated regional center; and
- The investment will directly or indirectly create the required number of jobs for U.S. workers.
An investor in a designated regional center project may use reasonable economic methodologies to demonstrate job-creation, counting the jobs of any persons directly employed by the EB-5 enterprise as well as jobs that have been indirectly created due to the business activities of the EB-5 enterprise. An investor’s I-526 petition is typically accompanied by a job impact report prepared by a professional economist. The job impact report, market analyses, and other documentation filed with the I-526 petition will seek to demonstrate that all of the EB-5 investors’ investments result in the creation of the required number of jobs for all EB-5 investors in a specific regional center project.
As in the case of non-regional center investments, the minimum qualifying amount required for investments in a designated regional center project doing business and creating jobs in a “targeted employment area” (“TEA”) is $500,000. A TEA is an area that, at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area that has experienced unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate.