The EB-5 investment program is not limited to any particular sector or industry. Any business in any industry qualifies provided it is a lawful, for-profit entity that meets the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) criteria for a new commercial enterprise (NCE) or a troubled business. USCIS defines an NCE as a for-profit organization that was created or restructured after November 29, 1990. Foreign nationals who invest in NCEs are expected to create at least 10 new, full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers. On the other hand, a troubled business must have experienced a minimum net loss of 20% in the 12 or 24 months before receiving EB-5 investment capital. EB-5 investors who choose to invest in troubled businesses do not necessarily have to create new jobs—they may only have to preserve existing positions in the company.
EB-5 investment projects can be found across numerous industries such as real estate development, hospitality, tourism, technology, restaurants, and many others. Potential EB-5 investors should carefully evaluate every available project with the help of an immigration attorney; each EB-5 project comes with a degree of financial and immigration risk.
Moreover, choosing to invest directly or through a regional center can largely determine an investor’s level of involvement in the project. For example, suppose that a foreign national makes a direct EB-5 investment in a restaurant venture. The foreign national would likely be expected to participate in the restaurant’s day-to-day operations. This level of involvement can be impractical for investors with little management experience or who are not available to oversee their projects. In contrast, if the foreign national chooses to invest in a regional center-sponsored restaurant venture, they would likely subscribe as a limited partner and thus take a more passive approach. The investor would not be required to participate in daily operations and will only have to contribute to important strategic decisions.