One of the most important parts of my job as an immigration attorney is educating my clients about the different paths to a Green Card. The EB-5 program is one of the most direct routes to a Green Card, now that the regional center or “pilot” program has made it into a phenomenal opportunity. To qualify for a visa under the pilot program, an applicant must invest $500,000 in an area or business venture that USCIS has awarded the status of “designated regional center.”
So what is a regional center, you might ask? Put simply, a regional center is an entity that USCIS has given permission to attract foreign investors under the EB-5 pilot program. Any number of entities can be given regional center status, including a city government or a private company. In fact, a business development company will often collaborate with a city government in applying to USCIS, in order to establish the area as a regional center.
For an entity to become a regional center, it must submit a detailed business plan to USCIS in which it proposes new commercial enterprises and investment opportunities. It is then up to USCIS to determine whether the proposed business ventures will contribute to the regional economy and meet all the necessary criteria for awarding EB-5 visas. If the application is approved, the business developer can form a limited partnership or corporation, and can begin attracting foreign investors.