Frequently Asked Questions
What is the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program?
In 1990, under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(5) the US Congress created the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category. Each year, the provision grants 10,000 immigrant visas to qualified individuals seeking permanent resident status on the basis that their investment in a new commercial enterprise will benefit the US economy.
To encourage immigration through the EB-5 program, Congress created a Pilot Program in 1993. The program specifically sets aside 3,000 visas annually for foreign investors who apply through a United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) designated Regional Center Investment Program. An investor seeking an EB-5 immigrant visa through a designated regional center must generally make a qualifying investment of US $1 million. Certain high unemployment or target employment areas (TEA) qualify for a lesser investment of $500,000. Additionally, the foreign investor must demonstrate that at least 10 jobs were directly or indirectly created through the investment.
Who should invest in an EB-5 Regional Center?
EB-5 Regional Center foreign investors include people from all walks of life including: professionals, business people, persons wanting to facilitate a child’s education, and retirees. If your goal is to become a permanent resident without actively managing a business, it is often less expensive and more convenient to utilize the Regional Center EB-5 category. The American Opportunity Regional Center will use your investment funds in active projects.
What is the minimum required amount of capital to be invested in order to apply for an EB-5 visa?
When you invest through a Regional Center, the minimum capital requirement is US$500,000 when you select a project in a rural area or targeted employment area (TEA); for all other projects, the capital requirement is US$1,000,000. The American Opportunity Regional Center selects all of its projects within TEAs designated by the State of Florida, in order to ensure our immigrant investors receive the best investment opportunities.
What is the investors’ involvement in the EB-5 Regional Center program?
The EB-5 regulations require your involvement in the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program. The regulations deem a limited partner in a limited partnership that conforms to the Uniform Limited Partnership Act as sufficient engagement in the EB-5 enterprise. However, the Uniform Limited Partnership Act, adopted by most states of the United States, prohibits the limited partner from actively participating in management.
If I want to move to the United States and invest in American Opportunity Regional Center’s project, do I have to live in the State of Florida?
No. The EB-5 visa program allows you to maintain your Permanent Residency by living anywhere in the U.S.
Are EB-5 visas available to people from any country in the world?
Legally yes. However, people from countries that do not have reliable tax and other financial documentation will need to be more actively involved in proving the authentication and source of investment funds to process an EB-5 visa application.
What is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)?
USCIS is a division of the Department of Homeland Security. USCIS is a government agency responsible for the implementation, administration of immigration and naturalization laws, rules and regulations, functions and policies in the provision of services.
Where can I find a copy of the relevant law and regulations to study?
Please go to the United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) website www.uscis.gov
Do I need my own immigration lawyer to prepare and file my immigrant investor (I-526 and I-829) petitions?
No. Every Foreign Investor who invests with American Opportunity Regional Center (AORC) shall enter into a separate representation agreement with an attorney of their choice or with an attorney recommended by AORC. We are familiar with many highly qualified and experienced members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
The attorney shall prepare the I-526 Petition for you as a Foreign National Investor. Upon approval of the Petition, the appointed designated Immigration Attorney can prepare your Applications for Conditional Permanent Residency. Before the end of the two year Conditional Permanent Residency, the appointed designated Immigration Attorney can prepare for you the Immigrant Petition to Remove the Conditions of your Permanent Residency; the final step necessary for you to obtain unconditional Permanent Residency.
What are the processing procedures?
The foreign investor must complete three phases of the application process become a permanent US resident:
To obtain immigrant investor status, the foreign investor to submit a completed Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur Form (Form I-526) to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with supporting documentation clearly demonstrating that the investment meets all EB-5 requirements. Upon approval of the I-526 Petition, this will be the foundation for Step 2.
If the foreign investor is residing within the US and has received Form I-526 approval, he or she may obtain conditional resident status by submitting a completed Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) to USCIS. If residing outside the US, the foreign investor must apply for an immigrant visa at a US Consulate abroad.
During the 90-day period prior to the expiration of the conditional period, the investor should file a completed Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions (Form I-829) to USCIS. In this petition, the foreign investor must demonstrate that the investment was sustained over the two-year conditional period, and the requisite jobs were created. Upon approval of the I-829 petition, the conditional nature of the green card is lifted and full permanent residence is granted to the investor and the investor’s family members less than 21 years of age.
What information and documentation are required?
Professional Background: You must prepare complete biographical information for each applicant and the principal applicant must prove the source of the investment funds. A résumé with copies of college diplomas and other educational certificates, if applicable, should be included. Any memberships in professional organizations should be documented. Unless the investor inherited the funds, the investor should be presented as a successful professional or businessperson with a business, financial or family history that explains the accumulation of financial net worth that is presented in the financial information. Provide as much documentation as possible that pertains to the career and achievements of the Investor.
Source of Funds: Funds for the investment must come from a lawful source. Lawful sources of funds include: profits from the sales of a property, stocks or bonds, profits from business, business transactions, gifts, and inheritances. To prove the source of investment funds, USCIS requires five years of tax returns, five years of bank records, proof of ownership in any businesses, financial statements for each business and business licenses. The idea is to present a track record of an honest course of dealing. If your capital came from a specific transaction, such as sale of a house, inheritance or gift, you must prove the transaction occurred, by providing an official document, such as a closing statement or contract or other official documents. This is not an exhaustive list of documents. Other documents may be required and vary on a case-by-case basis.
All documents included in the application must be translated into English in a proper Affidavit format.
What is the difference between "conditional" and "unconditional" green cards?
Under the regulations, an investor who is approved for the EB-5 immigrant visa receives a “conditional” green card, which must be reissued after two years, subject to removal of conditions. Otherwise, the two cards offer the same rights and privileges. A conditional Green Card is a temporary Green Card valid for two years. One year and nine months after it is issued, a three-month window opens up during which an individual must file another application with the USCIS to verify that all of the funds have been invested and the required employment has been created. When the conditional resident status has been lifted, full resident status is granted and a permanent Green Card is issued.
If my I-526 petition is approved by USCIS, what is the purpose of the Consulate application and Interview, and how soon do I get my “Green card”?
Upon approval of I-526 Petition:
(a) If you are residing outside the U.S. you must wait for notification from the U.S. Consulate in your home country to prepare documents for the visa interview. The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that the investor and his or her family undergo medical, police, security and immigration history checks before the conditional permanent resident visas are issued. At the interview, the consulate officer may address these issues and information printed on the I-526 application, including asking the investor to summarize the nature of his or her immigrant investment.
(b) If you are in the United States, then you may apply for adjustment of status by filing form I-485, and supporting documents, the application may be filed at the appropriate office of the USCIS.
Can I apply if I have been rejected or terminated in the past by USCIS for an L-1, E-2, B, or other visa?
Rejection in the past does not disqualify the applicant, unless the reasons relate to immigration fraud or other grounds of inadmissibility or removability. It is most important that all criminal, medical, or U.S. immigration history problems be disclosed to the limited partnership and legal counsel in advance of application.
After petition approval, can members of the family interview in different countries?
Family members can interview in different countries. The country of origin or where the family has current ties is the standard interview site. Often one member of the family is located in another country, such as a student attending school in the U.S. The student does not have to return to the country of origin and can adjust status in the United States at the district office of the USCIS.
Who receives the permanent residency ("green card")?
Husband, wife and any unmarried children under the age of 21. It is possible for adopted children to be included in the family.
Must I be in good health?
Yes, you must submit to and pass a health medical examination so either as part of the US Consular or Adjustment within the U.S. process before a conditional EB-5 Visa is granted.
Is it required that I have previous business experience or education?
No, you do not need any prior business experience or have to demonstrate any minimum level of education. The only requirement is that you have the investment capital as required by the Regional Center and proof that the source and path of funds are legal
Do I need to speak English to become a permanent resident of the U.S.?
No, this is not a requirement.
What investment options do I have for consideration with the American Opportunity Regional Center?
The American Opportunity Regional Center utilizes immigrant investor capital into projects that meet program criteria, including job creation in Targeted Employment Areas (TEA), to promote job growth. The American Opportunity Regional Center focuses on projects within five business sectors:
- Retail Shopping Centers
- Office Buildings
- Medical Office
- Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facility
What is a limited partnership?
A limited partnership combines corporate limited liability with partnership taxation. The limited partnership, formed by filing a charter with a state government, consists of a general partner and one or more limited partners. The charter details the rights and powers of the limited and general partners, percentages of ownership, and distributions of profits. The general partner manages the business.
The limited partners are passive investors liable only for the value of their investment. The limited partnership income is taxed at the partner level, not at the entity level.
How is my limited partner interest protected?
The Certificate of Limited Partnership must be recorded with the State of Florida as a public record. The Limited Partnership agreement lists the names and percentage interests of the limited partners. The deed for the investment property is held in the name of the limited partnership. The deed is also of public record. This means the property cannot be sold, mortgaged or altered without complying with the terms of the limited partnership agreement. The American Opportunity Regional Center only works with experienced and established EB-5 partners and projects. We personally provide rigorous due diligence for each business. We work with the EB-5 business or project to plan aggressive and realistic financial goals and we secure our EB-5 investment with substantial collateral to ensure the safety of your investment. We have maintained an exceptional record of return to our investors and safety for our valued clients.
Is my investment guaranteed?
No. The law requires an “at risk” investment without guarantees or redemption rights.
What are my risks?
As in any investment there is a risk of total loss. By U.S. regulations, all funds must be put at risk. All investors are provided with sound references to allow independent verification of the information contained in the investment prospectus.
Should I consult my own financial advisor before investing?
Yes. The American Opportunity Regional Center urges prospective foreign investors to please consult their own financial advisors for advice on investing through this program.
Why must I invest before you can submit the application for my green card?
Investment companies and designated Regional Centers accept EB-5 investors by placing funds in an escrow account pending I-526 Petition approval. The funds may only be released upon approval of I-526 Petition unless otherwise agreed upon in the Offering Memorandum.
Can money gifted by a parent, other relative or business be used for an EB-5 investment?
Yes, provided that any applicable gift taxes are paid. It must be demonstrated that the gift is an actual arm’s length transaction and is a not a mere ruse or that the gifted funds will be given back after permanent resident status is granted.
Can several investors combine or “pool” their investment capital through one limited partnership?
The regulations specifically allow for pooling of funds by several investors to establish a limited partnership sufficient to qualify all participating investors. The only requirement is that each investor individually must qualify for the minimum at risk capital requirement and new job creation requirement.
What issues have been problematic in EB-5 cases?
The most common problem area has been insufficient documentation of the source of funds. Many people try to disclose the least possible information only to have the file returned with a request for further information. It is better to provide too much information rather than too little information. In this era of terror alerts, and suspicions about money laundering, USCIS case examiners require a well-documented source of funds.
Can I visit the project location?
Definitely! The American Opportunity Regional Center coordinates many visits for its interested investors. We welcome you to visit us, meet our staff at our office in Miami and tour the latest EB-5 projects.
What is the rate of return on investment?
EB-5 Program regulations and USCIS rulings require all EB-5 investments be “at risk.” As outlined in the Confidential Investment Memorandum, each investment is specific to its risk reward analysis and pro forma analysis. While American Opportunity Regional Center cannot guarantee a specific rate of return, we believe it can achieve results consistent with or exceed those of other Regional Centers.
What exit strategies will AORC use to provide investor liquidity?
AORC structures our EB-5 investments to divest the investor and return the original principal balance after 5 years to the investor. The exact strategy used to exit each project investment will be determined on a project-by-project basis in order to provide the maximum financial and immigration benefit to our EB-5 investors.