With EB-5 regional centers being the most popular avenue for EB-5 visa applicants, many do not realize that direct investment as a path for obtaining an EB-5 visa holds many opportunities as well. In fact, the direct EB-5 investment pathway is underutilized among foreign nationals seeking an EB-5 visa. What is even more notable is that while the regional center program must be reauthorized by Congress, and thus is currently not a permanent option for seeking an EB-5 visa, the direct EB-5 investment option is a permanent law. This means that, absent some affirmative action by Congress to repeal the law, is the direct EB-5 investment pathway will always be available to immigrant investors.
Passive versus Active EB-5 Investment
Part of the appeal of the regional center program is that EB-5 regional centers allow EB-5 investors to take a more passive approach to investing funds. For many visa seekers, this is simply an easier way to invest, and that is understandable. Perhaps that is why over 95% of EB-5 visas granted each year are given to investors choosing to utilize the regional center program. However, for those who wish to utilize direct investment, it is not nearly as difficult as one might assume. It’s true that direct investment projects often require more involvement, but for many investors, that winds up being a very good thing. It is also possible to structure direct EB-5 investments as a type of passive investment.
A Multitude of Opportunities – Franchises
By using the direct EB-5 investment option, EB-5 visa applicants have a wider variety of opportunities to pursue. One of the best avenues is to become a franchisee for a brand well-established in the U.S. There is a huge benefit to investors who pursue this choice, as franchises make a great deal of information available to potential investors ahead of time (i.e. franchise disclosure documents and other public records). Compared to the information typically available through EB-5 regional center investments, the franchise route may offer a greater chance to evaluate success. In addition, franchising is regulated by both federal and state governments; in most cases far more so than passive regional center investments. Many franchises typically undergo regular audits and provide annual (or other regularly-scheduled) updates to investors. The investor also retains more control over the course of a direct EB-5 investment.
There are some drawbacks to using direct EB-5 investment as a path to the EB-5 visa, but many advantages also exist. The best advice is to have an experienced EB-5 visa attorney evaluate your particular situation. Call the expert EB-5 lawyers at David Hirson & Partners, LLP today to discuss your options with us.