If you are an entrepreneur looking to attract investors to your project, becoming an EB-5 regional center can create a very compelling reason for foreign investors to provide you with financing.
Many people, however, don’t fully understand the complexities of the EB-5 regional center application process, or the costs involved. One can apply to become an approved EB-5 regional center through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using form I-924.
The filing cost of form I-924 is $6,230. However, many entrepreneurs don’t account for the other costs of a successful regional center proposal which include:
- The services of an economist to provide the detailed economic impact analysis required by USCIS
- The services of immigration, securities and business attorneys to develop and thoroughly vet the documents associated with the proposal
- A detailed business plan outlining capital mix, return forecasts, exit strategy and other investment metrics
- Possibly the services of a firm who will spearhead the management and coordination of your application
- The services of an experienced EB-5 project manager are strongly recommended, especially for those new to the process
- We also suggest that the regional center's website be up and running prior to the submission of an I-924
As a general rule of thumb, we encourage clients to anticipate a budget between $125,000 and $175,000 to get a full regional center application prepared and submitted, including the first 'exemplar' project plan. This cost can vary mostly according to the costs of the various professionals involved.
If a client wants to work with an existing regional center and not form their own, we would recommend budgeting between $70,000 and $150,000, in addition to the cost charged by the regional center (regional center charges and deal structures (as well as included services such as marketing) for taking on a project vary quite considerably.
Once approved, or at least once marketing starts, there are other costs to consider as well:
- Agency fees for each successful investor (this is mostly the case for China, although agents can be found in other countries)
- Marketing costs (including brochures, travel, DVDs, information packets, Powerpoint presentation, translation of materials, etc.)
- Escrow fees, as appropriate
- Insurance costs
- Administrative costs for tracking and reporting to investors and USCIS
- Interest to investors
Clearly there is much to consider when evaluating the ROI on EB-5, however, this is where an experienced team provides value in terms of saving unnecessary costs and avoiding pitfalls.
Understanding the Application Process
While the filing fee for form I-924 is a fixed cost, these other costs may vary depending on the size and complexity of your project and business plan. It’s important to understand the full scope of the application process to determine the costs involved.
Becoming an EB-5 regional center can be a powerful attractor for foreign investment, in units of $500,000 or $1,000,000. The regional center designation can attract high net-worth investors that would otherwise not target your enterprise as an investment opportunity. However, the process of achieving this designation is not easy, and requires your full understanding to ensure success.
To fully unlock the potential of the EB-5 program, you need to arm yourself with the right information; ill-informed entrepreneurs can waste thousands of dollars and many hours trying to navigate the I-924 process. Gain a full understanding of the EB-5 program with the EB-5 Definitive Guide.
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).