by Matthew Hogan, Vice President of Project Development, CMB Regional Centers
Originally published in the fall 2021 IIUSA Regional Center Business Journal
The marketing efforts of regional centers trying to stand out from the crowd can sometimes blur the most important objectives of any hopeful immigrant investor. In a traditional business investment, success may be defined by ROI. But from an EB-5 immigration perspective, true success is achieved with the removal of conditions on the investor’s conditional permanent residence (“Green Card”) through the I-829 petition process. After all, achieving the milestone of unconditional Green Card is the reason any immigrant investor even considers making an EB-5 investment.
Investors should truly understand that USCIS approval of a regional center may be based on a general plan for promoting EB-5 investment, and that even USCIS approval of the I-924 application for a specific EB-5 “project” is based on a plan for intended future investment and business activity. USCIS consideration of the investor’s I-829 petition for removal of conditions is inherently different, because USCIS reviews what actually occurred with the investment and business and necessarily involves consideration of successful execution of the investment plan. This fact reveals that investors need to consider not just general plans for investment and business, but also the roles, responsibilities and competence level of the various players involved in execution of the plan. In turn, investors should consider that regional centers and the services they provide can be very different. Some regional centers are issuers and aim to align their upside with that of the investor by engaging in substantial pre-investment due diligence and oversight/monitoring of business activities, other regional centers are raising EB-5 capital to help fund their own development projects, and still other regional centers do none of the above. Whether it is the regional center or a different entity that claims to be looking out for the investor’s interests, the investor must consider that the individuals and organizations issuing and managing regional center investments are very diverse and have varying levels of experience and expertise. It is crucial to understand that ultimate success at the final I-829 petition stage is not the automatic outcome produced by an afterthought; instead, the investor, the investor’s counsel, and all stakeholders committed to the investor’s success must consider the I-829 petition process before the investor ever makes the investment.
Where there is I-829 petition success, there typically is found also an experienced and professional team that is committed to the investor’s success. Assembling that team before an EB-5 offering is made available to the marketplace can help make the I-829 petition process smooth and easily executable. USCIS approvals of I-924 applications and I-526 petitions are great, but because those approvals are only based on prospective and projected fact patterns, a team that can prove their ability to execute on their plan and navigate the challenges of a project under development as well as the evolving landscape of USCIS policy is an invaluable asset to the investor focused on the ultimate immigration objective…