4 essentials to help you find an innovative source of financing

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The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program allows foreign investors who meet a specific set of requirements to obtain permanent residency in the United States. Indeed since 1990, it has gained popularity in recent years among business owners and project developers, who have come to view the EB-5 investment industry as a safe and reliable source of capital. The program has poured billions of dollars into American businesses and created thousands of full-time jobs. It also encourages investment in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs), which are rural or have high unemployment. EB-5 investors who choose projects located in TEAs are granted a lower investment requirement of only $500,000, as opposed to the $1,000,000 minimum required for non-TEA projects.

U.S. business owners can often access EB-5 investment financing at below-market rates, but should keep in mind that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) tightly regulate the industry. If an EB-5 investor does not follow USCIS guidelines, they will not be eligible for a US green card. Therefore, project developers should be careful to ensure compliance with these policies.

In my experience as a managing partner of an EB-5 consulting firm, I have noticed that a USCIS-compliant business plan is one of the most important elements in considering such an investment.

Related: What is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program?

The importance of a solid plan

USCIS carefully reviews EB-5 business plans before granting approval to investors in a project. Essentially, plans must show that the project is financially viable and compliant with regulations. Issued by the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) in 1998, the “Matter of Ho” decision provides insight into how USCIS evaluates business plans, particularly with respect to accuracy , detail and transparency. Additional information regarding plan requirements has since been released, so business owners should endeavor to work with immigration attorneys and EB-5 consultants when structuring their offerings.

It is especially important that the plans show how the EB-5 project will strengthen the US economy and create at least 10 jobs per investor – the two main goals of the program. Moreover, investors are unlikely to buy into a project with an unconvincing or poorly written plan; investors gravitate toward those who clearly adhere to USCIS standards and thus offer a greater chance of successful immigration.

Entrepreneurs interested in raising EB-5 investment capital should consider the following elements of a solid plan that will make their offerings attractive to investors from a wide variety of markets.

Related: The 5 Best Markets to Raise EB-5 Investment Funds

1. Job creation potential

As one of the main objectives of the EB-5 program is to reduce unemployment, the job creation potential of an associated project is essential. If a plan does not explain how at least 10 jobs per investor will be created, USCIS is unlikely to approve investor visa applications. Therefore, it must include details such as the number of jobs expected, a description of each position, and a hiring schedule.

Employment calculation methods are different for direct projects compared to projects sponsored by regional centres. The former can only count full-time positions appearing on the company’s payroll, while regional center projects can also include indirect and induced jobs (calculated by counting development expenses and operating income of a project).

2. Financial viability

EB-5 plans must provide evidence of the financial viability of the project. To this end, business owners should commission a third-party analysis that assesses the potential for success and explains how the investment funds will be used. It is also important to include details such as expected income and expenses, and that the budget is sufficient to cover expenses related to job creation.

3. Marketing Strategy

Every EB-5 project should have a strategy for attracting potential customers and investors. Marketing plans typically include hiring foreign migration agents, producing attractive marketing materials, and offering informational seminars for interested investors.

Owners should further keep in mind that foreign nationals from different geographic regions have different expectations and preferences when selecting an EB-5 investment opportunity. Therefore, the marketing strategy should consider the needs and preferences of the project’s target markets.

Related: How to Build Trust with EB-5 Investors

4. Detailed description of the project

An EB-5 business plan should outline the scope of the project, type of business, operational plan, and timeline. There should also be information about its management team, employees, immigration lawyers and other professionals involved. Owners should aim to provide USCIS with a detailed overview of the organizational structure, which will enhance the credibility and transparency of the plan.

Structuring a successful EB-5 project is often a multi-year process that requires careful preparation. Still, many business leaders have found the effort worthwhile, especially in light of the sector’s current success and its potential to fuel accessible financing.

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