What is a Regional Center?

USCIS has approved a number of regional centers. If an investor invests in one of these approved regional centers, the $500,000 investment amount will be sufficient. In addition, the investor will not need to prove the creation of jobs for 10 U.S. workers.

What is the minimum amount of investment required?

For investments in areas outside of the “targeted employment areas” the minimum amount of investment is $1 million dollars. Investment inside of “target employment areas” including approved regional centers, can qualify with a minimum investment of $500,000

What is a “targeted employment area?” (TEA)

A targeted employment area is a rural area or a geographical area that has experienced unemployment rate of 150% of the national average rate. States are authorized to designate geographical areas within their state that qualify as TEA.

Does the entire amount of the investment have to be made at the time of applying for an immigrant visa?

The entire amount of the investment does not need to be made at the time of applying for an immigrant visa. However, the investor needs to prove that the funds are available and an actual commitment of the required amount of capital. The mere intention of investing or making plans for a future investment does not qualify.

Are there restrictions on the types of businesses that the investment can be made on?

The U.S investment can be in any one of four forms:

  1. The creation of a new business
  2. The purchase of an existing business which is reorganized to for a new enterprise.
  3. The expansion of an existing business
  4. The saving of a failing business

Are there rules regarding making an investment towards the expansion of an existing business?

Making an investment in an existing business for its expansion must result in a 40% increase in either the net worth of the business or in the number of people employed by the business.For example, if a business is worth $5 million dollars and employs 50 people before you invest, your investment must increase the net worth of the business by $2 million or result in 20 more people being employed.

Does the investor have to have any specific relationship with the business they invest in?

After making the investment, the investor does not need to own any specific percentage of the business, be an officer of the business, or an employee of the business. However, the investor needs to engage in some way either as a member of the board, a limited partner, or day to day managerial work.

Does the investor need to live in the area in which his investment is made?

No, depending on the role they chose to play in the business, they can live wherever they choose.

Does the investment need to result in the creation of employment for U.S workers?

The investment needs to create full-time employment for at least 10 U.S citizens or other legal immigrants. The required 10 positions cannot include the investor or the investor’s spouse or children. The 10 jobs must be employees of the enterprise that the investment was made and can’t include independent contractors.

When does employment need to be created?

The required 10 jobs need to be created within the two-year period immediately following the investor becoming a permanent resident.

How does an investor qualify based on making an investment in a failing business, where the investment results in saving the business and saving the jobs of the business employees?

An investment in a “troubled business” can qualify without a requirement of showing the addition of new jobs to the business. In order to qualify, the business must have been in existence for no less than two years and must have suffered a loss of at least 20% of its net worth during the past two years. The number of existing employees of the troubled business must at least remain the same for a period of two years.

Can two or more investors qualify for immigration based upon a pooled investment toward a single business?

There is no limit to the number of investors who can qualify for immigration based on an investment toward a single business. However, each investor must invest the required minimum amount, and the number of jobs created must be equal to ten times the number of qualifying investors. For example, if five investors each invest $1 million dollars in a business, they can each qualify for immigration as long as 50 jobs are created in the business.

Is the Immigration Status Granted to the investor valid indefinitely?

The permanent resident status granted to the investor is conditional for a period of up to two years. The investor and family members are required to remove the condition by filing an application during the 90 day period before the second anniversary of obtaining this status. The petition is required to demonstrate the establishment of the business, the investment of the required capital and the creation of the required number of jobs

Is the investor free to travel after obtaining condition permanent resident status?

The investor is free to travel in and out of the united states subject to the rules generally applicable to permanent US residents. Specifically, the investor must have a residence in the United States and cannot be outside the U.S for a continuous period of one year or more.

What is the procedure for an investor to qualify as an immigrant based upon the investment?

Form I-526, “Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur,” must be filed with USCIS. The petition must be supported by documentation proving that the investor meets all of the requirements. Once the petition is approved, the investor may apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consul or, if the investor is in the United States, may apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence.

What documentation must be presented to prove that the investor’s funds came from a lawful source?

Generally, the investor will present a combination of individual and/or business tax returns, employment records, documentation regarding sale of a business, documentation regarding gifts or inheritance, and documentation regarding securities or real estate transactions.