Foreign investors who want to obtain an EB-5 visa (a.k.a. “Investment Green Card”) need to do one of three things:
- invest $1 million and hire 10 qualified employees; or,
- invest $500,000 and hire 10 qualified employees in an area where unemployment is high (currently pegged at 1.5x the national average), or where the population is under 20,000; or,
- invest in a USCIS-approved Regional Center (currently, there are 883 of these centers across the U.S.), and create 10 indirect or induced jobs.
The first two EB-5 visa application options are relatively straightforward. The third — investing in a Regional Center — can create confusion when the indirect or induced jobs to be created are in the construction industry.
Here is why: in 1998, the Associate Commissioner of Examinations rendered a seminal interim decision [.PDF] that compels EB-5 visa petitioners to submit a business plan (in the form of an I-526 filing) that clearly and comprehensive states the foreign investor’s indirect and/or induced job creation projections. However, when the Regional Center in question involves any construction phase jobs, the level of detail is ratcheted up a few notches.
Specifically, the USCIS now insists that EB-5 visa petitioners provide:
- An itemized and detailed construction timeline displaying all key phases of the construction build-out, organized by date and subcontractor specialization and/or trade. The proposed start and end dates for each distinct activity must also be clearly defined.
Transparent and objective data that demonstrates the proposed timelines are reasonable per prevailing industry standards. This information must be verified and validated by expert third parties.
- Transparent and objective data that demonstrates the budget is reasonable per prevailing industry standards. As with the timeline, this information must be verified and validated by expert third parties.
While the USCIS pays careful attention to all phases of the application, it is particularly interested in the validated construction costs, because they are used as direct inputs to the economic modeling that ultimately projects indirect and induced job creation. Furthermore, it is important to note that the opinions of third party construction experts are in addition to those provided by the respective Regional Center’s own economic forecasting; it is not a substitute for them. Obviously, if there is variance between what a Regional Center’s economist states, and what independent experts state, the USCIS will want to investigate further.
Additional Information & Resources