EB-5 Investors (continued)
C. The Creation of Jobs
In developing the EB-5 Program, Congress intended to promote the immigration of people who invest capital into our nation’s economy and help create jobs for U.S. workers. Therefore, the creation of jobs for U.S. workers is a critical element of the EB-5 Program.
It is not enough that the immigrant invests funds into the U.S. economy; the investment must result in the creation of jobs for qualifying employees. As discussed fully below, the EB-5 Program provides that each investment of the required amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise must result in the creation of at least ten jobs.
It is important to recognize that while the immigrant’s investment must result in the creation of jobs for qualifying employees, it is the new commercial enterprise that creates the jobs.4 This distinction is best illustrated in the non-regional center context by an example:
Ten immigrant investors seek to establish a hotel as their new commercial enterprise. The establishment of the new hotel requires capital to pay financing costs to unrelated third parties, purchasing the land, developing the plans, obtaining the licenses, building the structure, taking care of the grounds, staffing the hotel, and the many other types of expenses involved in the development and operation of a new hotel. The immigrant’s investments can go to pay part or all of any of these expenses. Each immigrant’s investment of the required amount of capital helps the new commercial enterprise – the new hotel – create ten jobs. The ten immigrants’ investments must result in the new hotel’s creation of 100 jobs for qualifying employees (ten jobs resulting per each individual immigrant’s capital investment).
See 8 C.F.R. §204.6(j) (it is the new commercial enterprise that will create the ten jobs).
Since it is the commercial enterprise that creates the jobs, the developer or the principal of the new commercial enterprise, either directly or through a separate job-creating entity, may utilize interim, temporary or bridge financing – in the form of either debt or equity – prior to receipt of EB-5 capital. If the project commences based on the interim or bridge financing prior to the receipt of the EB-5 capital and subsequently replaces it with EB-5 capital, the new commercial enterprise may still receive credit for the job creation under the regulations. Generally, the replacement of bridge financing with EB-5 investor capital should have been contemplated prior to acquiring the original non-EB-5 financing. However, even if the EB-5 financing was not contemplated prior to acquiring the temporary financing, as long as the financing to be replaced was contemplated as short-term temporary financing which would be subsequently replaced, the infusion of EB-5 financing could still result in the creation of, and credit for, new jobs. For example, the non EB-5 financing originally contemplated to replace the temporary financing may no longer be available to the commercial enterprise as a result of changes in availability of traditional financing. Developers should not be precluded from using EB-5 capital as an alternative source to replace temporary financing simply because it was not contemplated prior to obtaining the bridge or temporary financing.
It is also important to note that the full amount of the immigrant’s investment must be made available to the business(es) most closely responsible for creating the jobs upon which EB-5 eligibility is based. Matter of Izummi, 22 I&N Dec. at 179. Thus, in the regional center context, if the new commercial enterprise is not the job-creating entity, then the full amount of the capital must be first invested in the new commercial enterprise and then made available to the job- creating entity. Id.
Full-Time Positions For Qualifying Employees
The EB-5 Program requires that the immigrant investor invest the required amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise in the United States that “will create full-time positions for not fewer than 10 qualifying employees.” 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(j).
An “employee” is defined as follows:
Employee means an individual who provides services or labor for the new commercial enterprise and who receives wages or other remuneration directly from the new commercial enterprise.
8 C.F.R. § 204.6(e).
The employee must be a “qualifying employee” for the purpose of the EB-5 Program’s job creation requirement. A “qualifying employee” is defined as follows:
Qualifying employee means a United States citizen, a lawfully admitted permanent resident, or other immigrant lawfully authorized to be employed in the United States including, but not limited to, a conditional resident, a temporary resident, an asylee, a refugee, or an alien remaining in the United States under suspension of deportation. This definition does not include the alien entrepreneur [immigrant investor], the alien entrepreneur’s spouse [immigrant investor’s], sons, or daughters, or any nonimmigrant alien.
8 C.F.R. § 204.6(e).
The EB-5 Program’s job creation requirement provides that it is “full-time employment” that must be created for the ten or more qualifying employees. INA § 203(b)(5)(A)(ii), 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(5)(A)(ii). “Full-time employment” is defined as follows:
Full-time employment means employment of a qualified employee by the new commercial enterprise in a position that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week.
A full-time employment position can be filled by two or more qualifying employees in a job sharing arrangement as long as the 35-working-hours-per-week requirement is met. However, a full-time employment position cannot be filled by combinations of part-time positions, even if those positions when combined meet the hourly requirement. 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(e). Direct jobs that are intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient in nature do not qualify as full-time jobs for EB-5 purposes. Consistent with prior USCIS interpretation, however, jobs that are expected to last for at least two years generally are not intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient in nature.
Due to the nature of accepted job creation modeling practices, which do not distinguish whether jobs are full- or part-time, USCIS relies upon the reasonable economic models to determine that it is more likely than not that the indirect jobs are created and will not request additional evidence to validate the job creation estimates in the economic models to prove by a greater level of certainty that the indirect jobs created, or to be created, are full-time or permanent. USCIS may, however, request additional evidence to verify that the direct jobs will be or are full-time and permanent, which may include a review of W-2s or similar evidence at the Form I-829 stage.
Job Creation Requirement
As previously discussed, the centerpiece of the EB-5 Program is the creation of jobs. The immigrant investor seeking to enter the United States through the EB-5 Program must invest the required amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise that will create full-time positions for at least ten qualified employees.
There are three measures of job creation in the EB-5 Program, depending on the new commercial enterprise and where it is located:
- Troubled Business
New Commercial Enterprise Not Associated With a Regional Center
For a new commercial enterprise that is not associated with a regional center, the EB-5 Program provides that the full-time positions must be created directly by the new commercial enterprise to be counted. This means that the new commercial enterprise (or its wholly-owned subsidiaries) must itself be the employer of the qualified employees who fill the new full-time positions. 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(e) (definition of employee).
New Commercial Enterprise Located Within and Associated With a Regional Center
For a new commercial enterprise that is located within a regional center, the EB-5 Program provides that the full-time positions can be created either directly or indirectly by the new commercial enterprise. 8 C.F.R. § 204.6((j)(4)(iii). Investors investing in a regional center are subject to all the same program requirements except that they may rely on indirect job creation as demonstrated through reasonable methodologies. 8 C.F.R. §§ 204.6(m)(1), (7).
Indirect jobs are those that are held outside of the new commercial enterprise but are created as a result of the new commercial enterprise. For indirect jobs, the new full-time employees would not be employed directly by the new commercial enterprise. For example, indirect jobs can include, but are not limited to, those held by employees of the producers of materials, equipment, or services used by the new commercial enterprise. Indirect jobs can qualify and be counted as jobs attributable to a regional center, based on reasonable economic methodologies, even if they are located outside of the geographical boundaries of a regional center.
For purposes of demonstrating indirect job creation, petitioners must employ reasonable economic methodologies to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the required infusion of capital or creation of direct jobs will result in a certain number of indirect jobs.
The EB-5 Program recognizes that in the case of a troubled business, our economy benefits when the immigrant investor helps preserve the troubled business’s existing jobs. Therefore, when the immigrant investor is investing in a new commercial enterprise that is a troubled business or, in the regional center context, is placing capital into a job-creating entity that is a troubled business, the immigrant investor must only show that the number of existing employees in the troubled business is being or will be maintained at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least two years. 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(j)(4)(ii).
This regulatory provision, while allowing job preservation in lieu of job creation, does not decrease the statutory numeric requirement; in the case of a troubled business, ten jobs must be preserved, created, or some combination of the two (e.g., an investment in a troubled business that creates four qualifying jobs and preserves all six pre-investment jobs would satisfy the statutory and regulatory requirements).
A troubled business is defined as follows:
[A] business that has been in existence for at least two years, has incurred a net loss for accounting purposes (determined on the basis of generally accepted accounting principles) during the twelve- or twenty-four month period prior to the priority date on the alien entrepreneur’s [immigrant investor’s] Form I-526, and the loss for such period is at least equal to twenty percent of the troubled business’s net worth prior to such loss. For purposes of determining whether or not the troubled business has been in existence for two years, successors in interest to the troubled business will be deemed to have been in existence for the same period of time as the business they succeeded.
8 C.F.R. § 204.6(e).
Evidence of Job Creation
In order to show that a new commercial enterprise will create not fewer than ten full-time positions for qualifying employees, an immigrant investor must submit the following evidence:
Documentation consisting of photocopies of relevant tax records, Form I-9, or other similar documents for ten (10) qualifying employees, if such employees have already been hired following the establishment of the new commercial enterprise; or,
A copy of a comprehensive business plan showing that, due to the nature and projected size of the new commercial enterprise, the need for not fewer than ten (10) qualifying employees will result, including approximate dates, within the next two years, and when such employees will be hired.
8 C.F.R. § 204.6(j)(4)(i).
For purposes of the Form I-526 adjudication and the job creation requirements, the two-year period described in 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(j)(4)(i)(B) is deemed to commence six months after the adjudication of the Form I-526. The business plan filed with the Form I-526 should reasonably demonstrate that the requisite number of jobs will be created by the end of this two-year period.
Our AAO precedent decision has articulated the standards by which USCIS will review a business plan:
The plan should contain a market analysis, including the names of competing businesses and their relative strengths and weaknesses, a comparison of the competition’s products and pricing structures, and a description of the target market/prospective customers of the new commercial enterprise. The plan should list the required permits and licenses obtained. If applicable, it should describe the manufacturing or production process, the materials required, and the supply sources. The plan should detail any contracts executed for the supply of materials and/or the distribution of products. It should discuss the marketing strategy of the business, including pricing, advertising, and servicing. The plan should set forth the business’s organizational structure and its personnel’s experience. It should explain the business’s staffing requirements and contain a timetable for hiring, as well as job descriptions for all positions. It should contain sales, cost, and income projections and detail the bases therefore. Most importantly, the business plan must be credible.
Matter of Ho, 22 I&N Dec. at 213. USCIS will review the business plan in its totality to determine if it is more likely than not that the business plan is comprehensive and credible. A business plan is not required to contain all of the detailed elements described above, but the more details the business plan contains, as described in Matter of Ho, the more likely it is that the plan will be considered comprehensive and credible.
In the case of a troubled business, a comprehensive business plan must accompany the other required evidentiary documents. 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(j)(4)(ii). In the case of a new commercial enterprise within a regional center, the direct or indirect job creation may be demonstrated by the types of documents identified above or by reasonable methodologies. 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(j)(4)(iii).
When there are multiple investors in a new commercial enterprise, the total number of full-time positions created for qualifying employees will be allocated only to those immigrant investors who have used the establishment of the new commercial enterprise as the basis for their entry in the EB-5 Program. An allocation does not need to be made among persons not seeking classification in the EB-5 Program, nor does an allocation need to be made among non-natural persons (such as among investing corporations). 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(g)(2).
In general, multiple EB-5 investors petitioning through a regional center or on a standalone basis may not claim credit for the same specific new job. Thus, as a general matter, a petitioner or applicant may not seek credit for the same specifically identified job position that has already been allocated in a previously approved case.