The Role of Business Plans in EB-5 Applications

Updated: June 23, 2024


EB-5 Insider Team

A group of professionals with years of experience helping people immigrate to the US

Note: This article is for informational purposes only. We are not providing legal advice or selling securities. The articles and content on this site are of a general informational nature only and should not be relied upon for individual circumstances.

Due diligence is crucial in the EB-5 visa process. Investors are making a major financial investment of at least $800,0000, and their immigration status, including that of their family, will rely on the success of the EB-5 project they choose. A business plan will enable investors to assess the viability of a project to decide whether it offers them the best opportunity to achieve their green card.

Business plans are not only written for investors. They must also be submitted to USCIS under the EB-5 Investor Program Reform and Integrity Act (RIA). New commercial enterprises and regional centers are also required to inform USCIS of any amendments made to the business plan. It forms the foundation for completing almost every document and petition in the EB-5 visa process.

We’re discussing the role of business plans in EB-5 applications, including key components and how to create a compelling business plan.

Importance of a Strong Business Plan

Business plans are required for all I-526/I-526E and I-956F petitions for EB-5 visas to demonstrate that the project satisfies the program’s requirements. A business plan enables USCIS to determine a project’s suitability and potential to be successful and meet the job creation requirement. Business plans must be credible, comprehensive, and highly detailed.

An EB-5 investor may create their business plan for a new commercial enterprise or use an existing business plan for an EB-5 regional center. The regional center itself will be responsible for creating the business plan for regional center investments. All investors associated with the EB-5 project will submit the same business plan as part of their I-526E petitions.

Business plans showcase the feasibility and viability of the proposed project and should include detailed descriptions of the project and its organizational structure. Job creation projections, financial assessments, market analysis, and marketing strategies should also be featured in an EB-5 business plan. 

To satisfy Matter of Ho, the business plan must show that the investor’s capital is ‘at risk’ throughout the sustainment period. An EB-5 business plan should address all the elements outlined in the decision made by the Administrative Appeals Office in 1998.

Not every business plan is a worthy investment or guaranteed success. EB-5 investors must use their judgment and work with trained professionals, such as immigration lawyers and financial advisors, to find the right project.

Key Components of a Business Plan

A business plan should consider all the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program requirements. An EB-5 investor or regional center may recruit a specialist business plan writer who understands the program’s requirements to create a plan that meets all the requirements and will work when applied practically.

We’re breaking down the key components that should be included in every EB-5 business plan:

Executive Summary

An EB-5 business plan should open with a concise executive summary that gives an overview of the proposal. It is typically a single page and includes details of the EB-5 investment, how the project plans to create jobs for qualifying workers, the industry the business operates in, and the activities it will engage in.

Company Analysis

A company analysis offers a detailed description of the enterprise, its purpose, and business goals. Unlike the executive summary, this section includes in-depth information on the mission, growth plans, value proposition, and business model.

Market Research

An EB-5 business plan aims to demonstrate that the business or project is viable to the USCIS. Market research helps to demonstrate its feasibility and should include information on customers, target markets, and how the company plans to stay competitive in its industry.

This section should be divided into three sections: competitive, industry, and market analysis. The market research should demonstrate that the EB-5 project or new commercial enterprise has a high potential for success and benefiting the U.S. economy.

Operational Plan

An EB-5 business plan must include information on its organizational structure and personnel. It should spotlight the management team, advisory group, and lead employees. The business plan should provide job descriptions for all existing positions, describe daily operational procedures, and list any equipment used.

Permits and Licenses

EB-5 projects require a series of licenses and permits to operate. The business plan should provide information on these to demonstrate to USCIS that the project has received all its necessary permits and can operate legally.

Job Creation Strategy

The business plan should demonstrate that the project or NCE has the potential to fulfill all the EB-5 program requirements, including creating at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers. It should demonstrate how these jobs will be created, including projections of when employees will be hired and detailed descriptions for each position that will be created.

Financial Plan

It’s typical for a new commercial enterprise to provide a five-year financial plan as part of its business plan. The USCIS must be able to determine a business’s or project’s viability, including its financial future. A financial advisor or economist should be involved in forecasting and data, such as projected balance sheets, cash flow projections, and a breakeven forecast.

Marketing Strategy

The business plan submitted to USCIS is the same one EB-5 investors use when considering a project. A well-structured business plan should include a marketing strategy and clarify how the project intends to attract potential inventors. Similarly, the marketing strategy should also cover how the business or project plays the pitch to attract customers or clients, drive growth, and facilitate job creation.

How to Develop a Compelling Business Plan

If you choose to invest in a new commercial enterprise instead of a regional center, you must create your business plan to submit to USCIS. You may decide to recruit a professional writer, financial advisor, or business professional to help you develop a compelling business plan to showcase that your investment will meet the EB-5 requirements.

Provide a Roadmap

The business plan acts as a roadmap for the EB-5 project and should include financial projections, budgets, and schedules. It’s recommended to base these on a conservatively feasible scenario to avoid over-promising. Include alternatives wherever possible and ensure there’s flexibility if circumstances change.

Consider what evidence you’ll need to supply to support the projections in your business plan. An economist or business advisor can help you diversify an EB-5 plan that is compelling and will not require material changes that can result in expensive amendment filings.

Create a Coherent Story

A business plan is how you pitch your NCE to the USCIS. It should clarify how your capital investment will create at least ten full-time jobs for qualifying employees. Your language should be easy to understand, accessible, and straightforward.

Make it clear how different parts of your business plan contribute to meeting the EB-5 program requirements. Ensure you address each consideration that the USCIS will have when reviewing your business plan.

Include Credible Information and Projections

Your business plan must contain information and numbers that withstand scrutiny. You must include references and citations to credible sources from third parties and as much verifiable information as possible.

Your EB-5 visa process may be delayed if the USCIS contacts you to request additional evidence if there is not enough certifiable evidence in the business plan you originally submitted. Ensure recurring details, such as financial estimates, are consistent throughout your business plan.

The most important projections in your business plan, such as your timeline for job creation, should be supported by credible evidence. A financial professional should review your business plan to ensure no discrepancies in your provided information.

You’ll also want to consider alternative schedules and if your project might deviate from your initial plan. Include this information in your business plan to show that you are implementing contingency planning to enhance the feasibility of your project.

Common Mistakes in EB-5 Business Planning

EB-5 business plans may be denied at the I-956F stage for several reasons. Discrepancies in the business plan are the main reason for denials. You’ll want to ensure that there are no inconsistencies between the business plan and other parts of the EB-5 application and that the business plan aligns with EB-5 requirements.

Businesses evolve as they develop, so creating a forward-looking business plan consistent throughout the EB-5 process takes significant time and investment. Ensure that at least one business or financial professional reviews your business plan to identify and resolve any discrepancies before submitting it to USCIS.

Other common mistakes include creating business plans that do not meet EB-5 requirements. When creating a business plan for a new commercial enterprise, you must show how you intend to create ten or more full-time jobs directly. The business plan should also establish how the investment will be used and that the job creation will occur within the conditional residence period or a reasonable time after that.

If your business plan fails to show that the investment meets all the necessary EB-5 requirements, USCIS may deny your application or request further evidence. Ensure that your business plan has all the necessary information on establishing your new commercial enterprise, the timeline for job creation, and how the invested funds will be used.

There are mistakes you can make that are highly likely to result in your EB-5 business plan being declined by USCIS. These include:

  • Having unrealistic projections that are not considered to be attainable.
  • Vague job descriptions that do not suggest your business plan are seriously considering the job creation requirement. Your business plan should include comprehensive job descriptions for all the roles you intend to create to meet EB-5 requirements.
  • Failing to cite credible sources and third parties. All the information in your business plan does not have to be exclusively sourced by an economist or business advisor. You can include market industry information and other insights from trustworthy sources to demonstrate the feasibility of your business plan.
  • Do not include information on the management team, including their experience and past projects, that will add credibility to your business plan.

Gain U.S. Permanent Residence Through Investment

Whether establishing a new commercial enterprise or investing through a regional center, business plans play a crucial role in EB-5 applications. They’re important for helping you choose the right project and monitor your investment. Alternatively, creating a business plan is the first hurdle on your journey to obtaining a green card with an investment in a new commercial enterprise.

At EB-5 Insider, we simplify your path to U.S. residency and citizenship through investment, providing support and advice at every step of the process. For an investment of $800,000, we’ll help you obtain a permanent U.S. green card for yourself, your spouse, and any unmarried children under 21.

Start applying for an EB-5 visa today, or contact our team for more information.

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