• USCIS Project Approval
  • USCIS Designated Regional Center
  • Official Target Employment Area Designation
  • First Secured Lien Position
  • USCIS Approved Job Study and Job Count
  • Creating a Minimum of 25% More Jobs Than Required
  • Independent Third Party Economic Feasibility Study
  • Under Construction
  • Developer Has First $30 Million At Risk
  • Developer Has 35 Year Track Record
  • $130,000,000 in Equity (30%) behind EB-5 Loan
  • World Class Construction Team
  • Significant Community Support
  • Audited Financial Statements
  • Independent Co-Manager
  • Project Constructed on Government Owned Property




EB-5 Overview

The EB-5 investor visa program (EB-5) is the easiest and fastest way to get you and your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 a green card and permanent residency in the United States. The EB-5 program enables foreign investors who make an investment, usually USD $500,000, in a U.S. business to obtain a green card and become lawful permanent residents, and eventual citizens, of the United States. The EB-5 program is operated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The program was established by the United States Congress in 1990 to facilitate increased investment in the U.S. economy.

What Are The Benefits?

  • Investors, their spouses and unmarried children, under the age of 21, may be granted U.S. permanent residency.
  • Investors and their family members may live, work or start a business anywhere in the U.S.
  • Minor children may obtain employment (subject to age, state and governmental laws and regulations).
  • Educational benefits, including admission to universities at the same cost as U.S. residents.
  • Multiple entry conditional green card allows the investors and their family members to travel outside the U.S. reentering the U.S. at any time with respect to U.S. residency requirements.
  • No requirement to manage the EB-5 investment on a day-to-day basis.
  • No quota backlogs or sponsors needed as with other visas.
  • No requirements for age, the ability to speak English, employment experience or education.
  • Open to any Country in the world.

Key Requirements

The foreign investor must invest a minimum of either USD$1,000,000 or USD$500,000 in a commercial enterprise.

  • The minimum investment is USD$500,000 for investments that are located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which refers to certain areas that have experienced high unemployment, or is in certain rural areas.
  • The investment funds must be at risk and the return cannot be guaranteed.
  • The investment must result in the creation or preservation of ten (10) full-time (at least 35 hours per week) jobs for U.S. workers, over a two year period.

Traditional vs Regional Center

EB-5 Investments are broken into two categories: a direct investment by a foreign national into a particular business or an investment into an USCIS- designated Regional Center, such as Miami Metropolitan Regional Center (MMRC). The direct investment is just that – an investment into a specific company. In the direct EB-5 investment, the investor is only allowed to utilize direct jobs to qualify for residency (a permanent green card for themselves and all qualified family members under 21 years old). The direct jobs are those new American jobs created within that particular company (the new commercial enterprise) the investor placed their investment.

A Regional Center is a designation granted by the USCIS to an entity that has satisfied requirements under the regional center regulations of the USCIS. This application process is rigorous and complex and the application among many other things outlines the Regional Center’s entire business plan and the job creation methodology that will be utilized to show ten new jobs will be created for each of the foreign national investors in the new commercial enterprise. Once approved, by the USCIS, the Regional Center has much greater power in that the Regional Center can demonstrate creating jobs through pooling investor funds as well as utilizing indirect as well as direct jobs. This is a very powerful tool that allows for greater leeway in demonstrating job creation proof. Regional Centers are allowed to utilize both direct and indirect job creation to support the investor’s requirement for a minimum of ten new American jobs created. Simply stated, a Regional Center has greater flexibility in demonstrating job creation within the new commercial enterprise than a direct investment for an EB-5 applicant to prove their requisite job creation. About 90% of all EB-5 investments are made through a Designated Regional Center.

Qualifications of a Regional Center and Exemplar (Project) Approval

To qualify as a Regional Center, the entity must obtain a designation (approval) from USCIS. Filing Form I-924, the Application for Regional Center, initiates this process. Many professionals, including an economist, EB-5 business plan writer, and lawyers (immigration, corporate and securities, as well as real estate) prepare the application and related documentation.

The Regional Center application must relate to a particular project. A major variable affecting the time frame for preparing and processing a Form I-924 pivots on whether the Regional Center seeks pre-approval of an actual project (an “exemplar project”) as part of the application or merely describes a project in more general terms (a “hypothetical project”).

If the I-924 application relates to a hypothetical project, with only general information about the project (and general predictions about job creation, the economic model, the business plan and offering documents), then the USCIS designation and approval attaches solely to the Regional Center designation. When the individual investors submit their I-526 petitions, the project portion of the application will be determined.

However, if the I-924 application includes a sample I-526 petition for an individual investor, together with more detailed information about a specific project (including the actual offering documentation, business plan, economic model and other project specific documents), then the application receives a more in-depth review to determine if the package complies with the EB-5 requirements. This is referred to as an “exemplar filing” or an “exemplar form I-526 petition”. If the exemplar is approved as part of the I-924 process (known as “project preapproval,”) the project level determination will be followed (“accorded deference”) by the USCIS adjudicators who will later review the individual investor’s I-526 petitions.

Project preapproval provides a marketing advantage to the Regional Center and developer. The investors gain the comfort of knowing that USCIS has scrutinized the project and issued a favorable determination concerning compliance with the Program’s requirements, especially the job creation methodology and the number of jobs to be created.

What Is A Targeted Employment Area?

A geographic area is classified as a TEA if its unemployment rate is at least 150 percent of the national average. Most projects seek to quality as a TEA to attract immigrants whose main purpose in making the investment is to obtain a visa, and therefore, prefer to invest $500,000, instead of $1,000,000.

Job Creation Requirements

According to USCIS, the EB-5 investment must preserve or create a minimum of 10 full-time positions for workers in the United States who qualify. This creation, or preservation, of jobs must occur within two years of the investor’s conditional permanent residency and entrance into the United States. Jobs created in EB-5 projects are defined as direct, indirect or induced. In the direct investment context, the EB-5 visa applicant must prove that the EB-5 capital resulted in the actualization of direct jobs of employees working directly in the business in which the investment was made. In the regional center context, the applicant can count direct, indirect, and induced jobs toward the job creation requirement.

Capital Investment Must Be At Risk

The EB-5 investor’s capital investment must be placed “at risk” for the purpose of generating a return. Thus, the investor can neither be guaranteed a return on any portion of his investment nor guaranteed the return of any portion of his capital investment. Otherwise, that portion of the investment is not deemed to be at risk, and does not constitute equity capital.

The Immigration Process – the Investor’s Path to Permanent Residency

The investor must first select a particular project as the investment target, execute the Subscription Agreement and wire to the Regional Center the minimum required investment (usually USD$500,000) and the one-time administrative fee (usually USD$50,000) charged to the investor by the Regional Center.   The wiring of the funds must occur before the investor’s I-526 petition is filed.

The first step of the two-step visa application process begins with the investor filing with USCIS a Form I-526 petition (or application) for conditional permanent residency. USCIS “adjudicates” (reviews and ultimately approves or denies) the petition.

The USCIS adjudicator assigned to the application focuses on the project, as well as on the individual investor. At the project level, USCIS’ main consideration is whether, based on the business plan and economic model selected by the Regional Center, the project is likely to create the number of jobs required (based on the amount of the EB-5 capital to be raised). At the individual level, USCIS’ focus is (1) whether the investor’s funds have been obtained from a lawful source and (2) whether the investor’s funds will be placed “at risk”. If the project has been pre-approved (Exemplar) then the adjudicator focuses only on the individual investors’ qualifications. This should reduce significantly the time required to approve the I-526 petition,

Ultimately, USCIS approves or denies the I-526 petition. Approval signifies that USCIS has accepted the project’s business plan’s terms and assumptions, as well as its job creation projections. If the I-526 petition is approved, the investor executes and submits a form to request an interview with USCIS or the Department of State, depending upon whether the investor then resides inside or outside of the U.S. The focus is to obtain background information about the investor.

If the interview is favorable, the U.S. Department of State issues a conditional visa (also known as a “temporary green card”). This elevates the investor’s status to “conditional permanent resident” for a period of two years.

The second step requires that, during the window period between 21 months and 24 months after the issuance of the conditional visa, the applicant file with USCIS a Form I-829 application to remove the visa conditions. At the project level, USCIS’ main focus is whether the required number of jobs has been created. This entails verification that all of the business plan’s commitments have been kept, especially the actual expenditure of project funds. The Regional Center is responsible for providing the investor with this required information.

At the individual level, USCIS’ main focus is whether the immigrant investor has sustained his investment in the project and the investment continues to be at risk. Even if the project is economically successful, the I-829 petition will be denied if it does not meet the EB-5 requirements, such as the failure to create sufficient jobs or to continuously maintain the capital investment outstanding and at risk.

If the I-829 petition is approved, unconditional permanent resident status is granted and an unconditional (“permanent”) green card is issued. The immigrant investor may permanently live and work in the U.S. The conditional visa period counts towards the five-year residency requirement for U.S. citizenship.

Loan vs Equity Model

Two basic investment approaches are available to invest the immigrant investor’s equity capital in the project – the “loan model” and the “equity” model. The vast majority EB-5 investments are structured under the loan model.

Under the loan model, all of the foreign investor’s capital is deployed to the project as a loan. The Regional Center forms the legal entity that receives the foreign investors’ funds which then makes the loan to the project company. The loan could be secured by a first or junior mortgage against the property, secured by equity interests (mezzanine financing), or even unsecured. The best position for a foreign investor is to be secured by a first mortgage/lien.

Questions That an Investor Should Ask About Before Choosing a Project

  1. Has the project been approved by USCIS? Ask to see the approval letter.
  2. Has the Regional Center been approved by USCIS? Ask to see the approval letter.
  3. Does the Project have all its entitlements?
  4. Is the Project under construction?
  5. Does the foreign investor receive a first priority position/lien on the Project or does he/she receive an inferior secured position?
  6. Is there an independent third party feasibility study showing the financial viability of the Project?
  7. Is the developer at risk?
  8. Has the developer contributed a significant amount of cash into the Project?
  9. Is the developer’s cash spent before or after the foreign investor’s money is loaned to the project?
  10. What is the track record of the developer?
  11. What is the track record of the construction team?
  12. Has the number of jobs to be created by the Project and the methodology been approved by USCIS?
  13. Is there at least a 20% of cushion in the job numbers approved by USCIS?
  14. Does the Project enjoy widespread community support?

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