Regional Centers Get Foreign Cash for Green Cards. Filings Almost Double for EB-5 visas

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The USCIS disclosed at an EB-5 Visa Stakeholder Meeting on June 16, 2010 that there were more petitions for green cards through the EB-5 Visa category in the first 7 months of this fiscal year than in the entire 2009 fiscal year. Investment opportunities known as Regional Centers accounted for approximately 90-95% of these petitions.

The EB-5 visa program gives green cards foreign investors to invest $1m in a new commercial enterprise that will create jobs for 10 people. The amount is reduced to $500K in rural and high unemployment areas.

Regional Centers are investment opportunities that are approved by the USCIS for such investments. An investment in a Regional Center does not guarantee the petitioner a Green card, but is an acceptance by the USCIS that 10 new direct or indirect jobs will be created if the business plan comes to fruition.

According to the USCIS they received 1100 EB-5 visa petitions from October 2009 to May 2010 and approved 955 of such petitions. The petitioner initially receives a two-year Conditional Green Card and at the second anniversary must prove that the business is operating according to the business plan and the money remains invested.

Leon Snaid, a San Diego Immigration and Business lawyer says, “U.S. businesses are reaching out for foreign investors during the current cash crunch. In March 2007 there were 17 active Regional Centers. Today that number has surged to 94 Regional Centers. There are also 65 Regional Center proposals that are pending at the USCIS.”

Snaid, who is certified as an Immigration Law Specialist by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization and is also the author of Best Business Buddy, the Golden Rules and Strategies of Smart Business says that the system for Regional Center designation is now becoming streamlined. In the past there was no specific form used to apply for Regional Center designation. Now the USCIS has a proposed a Form I-924 that will be submitted with each proposal. Snaid says that while the Application for a Regional Center will cost $ 6,230.00, the USCIS expects that it will clarify the requirements, improve the quality of applications, alleviate content inconsistencies and support a more efficient process for the adjudication.

“Anyone wishing to receive Regional Center status for a business opportunity should expect a thorough analysis of their business plans and more particularly their economic analysis of how the proposed jobs will be created. The security laws of the USA require many disclosures, when someone seeks funding from the public. The Regional Center requirements add a second layer of disclosures and business analysis.” says Snaid.

Snaid offers interested investors his “20 Starting Questions that you Must Ask a Regional Center” on his web site at: http://snaid.com/regional_centers.html. He says that this is only the start of the due diligence that is required before investing. A person must use the services of professionals, because once the money is invested, you have very little control over the business. While the EB-5 visa requires an investor to have policy-making decisions, an investor’s input is minimal, when there are many investors.

Snaid suggests that a potential investor should first consult with an immigration attorney before seeking out a Regional Center investment. There are strict rules relating to the tracing of investment funds and certain sources are unacceptable.

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