What Are Regional Centers In The EB-5 Program?
Before regional centers existed, a company would have to apply to USCIS to become a regional center. This process would take at least a year but allowed companies to run multiple projects per year. We’ve done projects at regional centers before, such as the Philadelphia Naval Yard Redevelopment project. My clients were able to get residency cards through that process. The advantage of regional centers in the EB-5 program is that there are multiple investors, so companies don’t need to be individually managed. It also grants pre-approval for projects so long as regional centers submit project information to USCIS before the project starts. This is probably the safest way for a foreigner to obtain a green card for themselves, their spouse, and minor children.
Under the new EB-5 program, most regional centers offer anywhere from two to six percent interest per year on investments. This is a big improvement from the zero to half-percent interest each year on investments in the old program. Since the dollar amount is higher and there are fewer people available who have the funds to invest, they are able to give a better rate of return. Another advantage of regional centers is that after a period of time, most centers will buy back a project or investment from the investors. For example, if someone invests $900,000 over the course of five to seven years, they could get back $900,000 as long as the regional center is still viable.
The last advantage of regional centers is that they allow for high approval rates. The last statistic showed an approval percentage in the mid-80s as opposed to the mid-20s. By investing a little bit more by using a regional center, clients are able to better protect their money. One piece of cautionary advice would be to pay attention to which centers have track records of not only successfully obtaining initial green cards for people but also removing their conditions in order to make those green cards permanent. There has been a recent explosion of centers that do not have such track records, and it would be well-advised to avoid them.
How Long Does It Generally Take To Obtain An EB-5 Green Card?
There is a limited number of available green cards per year so there is a major backlog. India and China have the longest wait times (several years). From time to time, certain projects receive expedited treatment. However, even if a project receives expedited treatment, it will make no difference if the project is in a country such as India or China. If a project from Canada were to receive expedited treatment, then it might only take 12 to 15 months, whereas an expedited project from India could still take four years. Due to such long wait times, people are becoming less interested in the EB-5 green card program, and many of the opportunities are disappearing.
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