Congress created the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category in 1990 for qualified foreigners seeking to invest in a business that will benefit the U.S. economy and create or save at least 10 full-time jobs. In 1993 and regularly reauthorized since then, Congress created the Regional Center Pilot Program where EB-5 investments could be hosted by a local entity. The Regional Center Pilot Program were intended to further attract capital and promote utilization of the program by making the process much more feasible for a willing investor to pursue EB-5, invest capital successfully and create the jobs the program was intended to.
The basic amount required to invest is $1 million, although that amount is reduced to $500,000 if the investment is made in a rural or high unemployment area. Of the approximately 10,000 EB-5 Green Cards available each year, 3,000 are reserved for foreign nationals who invest through a Regional Center.
A Regional Center is a private enterprise, or corporation, or a regional governmental agency with a targeted investment program within a defined geographic region. The Regional Center program, in many ways, mirrors long active and successful investment-employment based programs in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and other foreign nations.