One of the most common questions EB-5 professionals are asked from those thinking about starting an EB-5 regional center is, "How long will it take to get approved?"
The answer to this question is multi-layered. The actual time it takes for USCIS to process an EB-5 regional center application is constantly changing. Officially, the last-posted processing time on the USCIS website was as follows (I-924 is the official name for an initial regional center application package):
What people really want to know, however, is how long it takes to get money in the door. There are several things to consider in order to get the real answer here:
- Do you have your team together? This is a critical first step; it is important to understand who you need and how to choose your team. This step should not be rushed.
- Do you have all the answers that your team will need? Do you know what those things are? Save yourself a ton of time and expense by finding good resource to help you understand what you'll need to get started. This information goes beyond a normal start-up's requirements and waiting until you have your (often expensive) team together means that you will quickly come to rely on them for guidance on things that you might have easily discovered on your own at far less expense with a good resource.
- Is your deal good or great? Talk to marketers early on to understand what will make a deal stand out in today's market. Good deals can sell; great deals will sell faster.
- From there the package needs to be assembled and your team of experts need to do their thing. Depending on your EB-5 regional center's complexity, expect anywhere from 1 to 2 months on average to get your package assembled and ready for submission. Most experts will tell you that the clients take much longer.
- Once your package is submitted you can start marketing. How will you market to foreign investors? How big is your raise? How saleable is your deal? The answers to these questions will have an impact on how quickly you can get the capital you are seeking.
- Once you win investors, each investor must submit their own petition to have themselves approved as an EB-5 investor. This adds several months to the process (for each investor).
Phil Cohen is the founder and President of Strategic Element, a company that focuses on developing regional centers, EB-5 business plans, economic impact reports, feasibility studies and custom 'direct' EB-5 projects for its clients (www.strategicelementconsulting.com).