F.A.Q.

For answers to frequently asked questions about the EB-5 Immigration Program or the American Green Card Center Inc. please click on the individual questions below.

General Questions

1. 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. Every year, 10,000 immigrant visas are granted to qualified individuals seeking permanent resident status on the basis that their investment will stimulate the local economy.

In 1993 Congress created a pilot program in order to encourage immigration through this program. The program annually sets aside 3,000 visas for foreign investors who apply through a Regional Center Investment Program designated and recognized by United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). Generally, in order to obtain an EB-5 immigrant visa through such a Regional Center, an investor must make a qualifying investment of US $1 million. However, investments in certain high unemployment or target employment areas (TEA) may qualify for a lesser qualifying amount of $500,000. Importantly, the foreign investor must demonstrate to the USCIS that at least 10 jobs were directly or indirectly created by the investment project.

2. Who should invest through a Regional Center?

Foreign investors who invest through an EB-5 Regional Center include all sorts of people, from various national backgrounds and professions. Some wish to immigrate to further their business interests, pursue a higher quality of life, or provide greater opportunities for their children, among many other purposes. Investing through a Regional Center is for those who wish to obtain a Green Card without having to actively manage a business for several years. Because the day to day management is taken care of, it is less expensive and much more convenient for foreign investors to invest through a Regional Center. The AGCC Regional Center will employ your investment funds in active projects.

3. What is the minimum amount of capital required to be invested in order to apply for an EB-5 visa?

When investing through a Regional Center, the minimum capital requirement is US$500,000 if the project is in a rural or targeted employment area (TEA); for all other projects, the capital requirement is US$1,000,000. The AGCC Regional Center ensures all of its projects are located within state-designated TEAs in order to ensure our foreign investors receive the best investment opportunities.

4. If I want to move to the United States and invest in an AGCC project, am I obligated to live in San Francisco?

No. The EB-5 visa program allows a foreign investor to maintain Permanent Residency by living anywhere in the United States.

5. Are EB-5 visas available to foreign investors from all countries?

Yes. However, investors from countries that do not have reliable tax-related and other financial documentation will need to be actively involved in demonstrating the legality and source of funds to be used in the investment to the USCIS.


Immigration Questions

1. What is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)?

USCIS, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, is the US government agency responsible for the implementation and administration of immigration and naturalization laws, rules and regulations.

2. Where can I find a copy of the relevant law and regulations to study?

Please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) website.

3. Do I need to hire my own immigration attorney to prepare and file my immigrant investor petitions (I-526 and I-829)?

Each foreign investor who invests with AGCC will enter into a separate representation agreement with an attorney of their choice or with an attorney recommended by AGCC. We are familiar with many highly qualified and experienced members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The attorney, in cooperation with the AGCC, will prepare the I-526 Petition for you as a foreign investor. Once the petition is approved, the attorney and AGCC will prepare your application for conditional permanent residency. Prior to the end of the two-year conditional permanent residency period, the attorney and AGCC will prepare the I-829 Petition in order to remove the conditionality of your Green Card. This is the final step necessary for you to obtain unconditional permanent residency and eventually US citizenship.

4. What are the processing procedures?

The foreign investor must complete three key steps of the application process to become a permanent US resident:

Step 1:
In order to obtain immigrant investor status, the foreign investor must submit an Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur Form (Form I-526) to USCIS, accompanied by documentation clearly demonstrating that the investment meets all EB-5 requirements.

Step 2:
If the foreign investor is residing within the US at the time Form I-526 is approved, he or she can obtain conditional resident status by submitting an 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 closest to him or her.

Step 3:
At any point during the 90-day period immediately prior to the expiration of the two-year conditional period, the investor must submit an I-829 form to USCIS, petitioning to remove the conditionality of the Green Card. In order for the I-829 form to be approved, the investor must prove that he or she has satisfied the investment/job creation requirements of the EB-5 program ($500,000 investment, creation of 10 permanent jobs). Once Form I-829 is approved, the conditionality of the Green Card is removed and full permanent residence is granted to the investor and his or her immediate family members (less than 21 years of age).

5. What information and documentation is required?

Professional Background: It is necessary to prepare and furnish biographical information for each applicant. A CV (résumé) with copies of college/university diplomas and any other educational certificates should be included if available. Likewise, any professional organization memberships should also be documented. Unless the funds were inherited, the investor ought to be presented as a successful professional or businessperson. In doing so, it is important to demonstrate a business, financial or familial history that explains the accumulation of the investor's net worth. It is advisable to provide as much documentation as possible in regard to the foreign investor's career and achievements.

Source of Funds: The principal applicant must prove to the USCIS that the source of the capital invested is lawful and legitimate. Legitimate and lawful sources include business proceeds, proceeds from real estate transactions, or earnings from stocks or other financial investments. In addition, the USCIS also accepts gifts, inheritance, and/or loans as legitimate sources of capital. Please note that, in cases where the invested capital is received in the form of a gift, USCIS requires disclosure of information pertaining to the giving party. In this regard, USCIS requires five years of tax returns, five years of bank records, proof of ownership in any businesses, as well as financial statements and licenses for each. This is done in order to present an honest and legal record of transactions and dealings. Further, if funds came from a specific transaction such as the sale of a house or property, inheritance or gift, you must prove to USCIS that the transaction indeed occurred by providing an official document, such as a contract or closing statement, etc. All documents included in the application must be translated into English in proper affidavit format.

6. What is the difference between a "conditional" and "unconditional" green card?

Under the rules of the EB-5 program, a foreign investor whose I-526 Form is approved receives a "conditional" Green Card, which is valid for only two years and must be reissued, subject to removal of conditions. Simply put, a conditional Green Card is a temporary Green Card valid for two years. One year and nine months after the conditional Green Card is issued, a 90 day window opens during which the foreign investor must file an additional petition (I-829) with USCIS in order to verify that the investment has been sustained for two years and that the required jobs have been created and maintained. Once Form I-829 is approved, the conditional status of the Green Card is removed and a permanent, non-conditional Green Card is issued.

7. Once the I-526 petition is approved: what is the purpose of the Consulate Application and Interview?

Once the I-526 Petition is approved:

(a) If you are living outside of the US at this time, you must wait for your local US Consulate to notify you to begin preparing documents for the visa interview. The consular interview is done to ensure that the investor and his or her family members undergo medical, police, security and immigration history checks prior to the issuance of a conditional permanent resident visa (conditional Green Card). During the interview, the consulate officer will review these issues as well as the information stated on the I-526 application, including questions regarding the nature of the investment project to be made.

(b) If you are living within the US, you may apply for adjustment of status by submitting Form I-485 to USCIS along with all applicable supporting documents.

8. 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?

Prior rejection does not automatically disqualify an applicant, unless the rejection stemmed from immigration fraud or from other similar grounds. For this reason, it is important that all criminal, medical, and immigration problems and issues are disclosed to the AGCC and attorneys in advance.

9. After petition approval, can members of the family get interview in different countries?

Yes, it is possible for family members of the investor to do the consular interview in different countries. Though the country of origin is the standard interview site, it often happens that one member of the family is located in another country, such as a student attending school in the U.S. In such cases, the student (or other family member) is not obligated to return to the country of origin and can adjust status in the United States at the district office of the USCIS, or at the US consulate in the country he or she is located in.

10. What family members are eligible to receive a permanent Green Card along with the primary applicant?

Only immediate family members are eligible to receive Green Card, including the primary applicant's husband, wife and any unmarried children under the age of 21. Adopted children may also be included.

11. Are there any health requirements?

Yes, all applicants must submit to and pass a medical examination as part of the consular interview or within the US as part of the adjustment of status.

12. Is there a requirement to have previous business experience or education?

No, it is not required to have any prior business experience or attain a minimum level of education. The only requirements are to invest a certain amount of capital through the Regional Center, and to prove that the source and path of the capital is legal and legitimate.

13. Do I need to speak a certain level of English in order to become a permanent resident of the U.S.?

There is no requirement for foreign investors to speak English.


Investment-related Questions

1. What kind of investment opportunities does the AGCC Regional Center offer?

The AGCC offers a range projects throughout Northern California. All projects offered are designed to meet program criteria, including sustained job creation in Targeted Employment Areas (TEA). The AGCC Regional Center focuses on projects involving mixed-use commercial real estate, gas stations, hotels, and nursing home sectors.

2. What is a limited liability company (LLC)

An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is a legal form of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. It is essentially a hybrid business entity that has certain characteristics of both a Corporation and a Partnership. The primary characteristic that an LLC shares with a corporation is limited liability, whereas what it shares with a partnership is the pass-through income taxation. LLC's are often more flexible than a corporation.

What is an escrow account?

An escrow account is a separate interest-bearing account into which the foreign investor will deposit funds pursuant to a Private Placement Memorandum and Subscription Agreement. AGCC will provide escrow account information to the investor at the appropriate time. The purpose of this is to protect the investor's capital until such time as the I-526 conditional visa application is approved and the funds are invested into the project.

3. How is my limited partner interest protected?

The Certificate of Limited Liability Company must be recorded with the State of California as a public record. The LLC agreement lists the names and percentage interests of the members. Furthermore, the deed for the investment property is held under the name of the LLC and is also a public record. This ensures that the property cannot be sold, altered or mortgaged unless compliant with the terms of the LLC agreement.

AGCC management personally performs rigorous due diligence for each project, ensuring that AGCC only invests in profitable projects. In administering all EB-5 projects, we set aggressive and realistic financial goals and secure each EB-5 investment with substantial collateral so as to ensure the safety of our clients' investments. We have maintained an exceptional record of return and safety for our valued investor clients.

4. Is my investment guaranteed?

No. The law requires investments to be "at risk" with no guarantees or redemption rights.

5. What are the risks involved?

As is the case with any investment, there is a risk of loss. By U.S. regulations, all funds invested through the EB-5 program must be put at risk. All investors are provided with references to allow for independent verification of the information contained in the investment prospectus.

6. Should I consult my financial advisor before investing?

Yes. AGCC encourages prospective foreign investors to consult their financial advisors before investing through this program.

7. Why must I invest before you will apply for my Green Card?

Regional Centers accept EB-5 investors by placing investment funds in an escrow account pending USCIS approval of the initial I-526 Petition. These funds will only be released from the escrow account once I-526 Petition is approved, unless otherwise agreed upon in the Offering Memorandum.

8. Can money received as a gift from a parent, other relative or business be used as capital for an EB-5 investment?

Yes. However, such funds will only be accepted by the USCIS if all applicable gift taxes are paid and it is demonstrated that the funds came from a legal and legitimate source, among other stipulations.

9. Can several investors pool their investment capital through one LLC?

The program regulations explicitly allow for funds to be pooled by a number of investors to establish a Limited Liability Company with sufficient funds to qualify all participating investors. However, each investor must still individually qualify for the minimum at-risk capital as well as new job creation requirement.

10. What issues have been problematic in past EB-5 applications?

The most common EB-5 related problem is insufficient documentation of the source of funds to be invested in the project. Many times foreign investors disclose only the minimum amount of information about the source of the funds, which often results in the application being returned with a request for further information. This type of problem can cause delays in the process. In order to ensure that the application process proceeds as smoothly as possible, we believe it is preferable to provide too much information rather than too little.

11. Can I visit the project location?

Definitely! The AGCC coordinates many visits for interested investors. We encourage you to visit us, meet our staff at our office in San Francisco, CA and tour the latest EB-5 projects.

12. What is the rate of return on investment?

As aforementioned, EB-5 program regulations require all EB-5 investments to be "at risk." As outlined in the Confidential Investment Memorandum, each investment has its own specific risk-reward and pro-forma analysis. While AGCC does not guarantee a specific rate of return, our projects achieve results consistent with or exceed those of other Regional Centers. Our clients receive 50% of the project's profit from operations, plus from the sale of the project after the 5th year.

13. What exit strategies does AGCC offer to provide investor liquidity?

AGCC structures our EB-5 investments to return the original principal amount after a 5 year period. After this period, our client can either sell the entire project, buy AGCC out, or sell his or her interest in the project.

 

Links to additional sources of information


USCIS & General:

Invest in America: www.investamerica.gov
US Citizenship and Immigration Services: www.uscis.gov
US Department of State's Visa Office: www.travel.state.gov