Are you applying for the EB-5 visa? If YES, here is a sample template on how to write a business plan for EB-5 visa program that is immigration compliant.
What is an EB-5 Visa?
The Employment Based Immigration Fifth Preference, more commonly known as EB-5, is a United States immigration visa and green card program which can lead to citizenship. The program was designed to grant entrepreneurs or investors, their spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21 the opportunity to travel in and out of, reside in, attend schools, and work in the united states.
Statistics has it that over 2500 investors are given EB-5 visa every year. This figures can also grow to the 10,000 visa cap when the families of these investors are added.
Why Apply for a EB-5 Visa?
This visa program has become popular with citizens of China and india as the United States does not have a treaty with those countries that allows for E2 opportunities. This visa application is an attractive option for entrepreneurs and investors that qualify, but substandard business plans submitted with the application could put the immigration process at unfortunate risk.
Have it in mind that a great EB-5 business plan will ease the approval of the I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur). It will do this by addressing the requirements of the program as well as demonstrating the likelihood of the downstream I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status) approval.
What Does It Take to Prepare an EB-5 Visa Business Plan That is Immigration Compliant?
Penning down a compliant business plan in the complex and vast EB-5 world is quite beneficial. Anyone who chooses to write this business plan needs to be intimately familiar with EB-5 requirements, while understanding the importance of creating a business plan that can actually be understood and defended.
Also note that business plans submitted with EB-5 visa petitions must provide a basis for USCIS to draw “reasonable inferences” about the business’s potential viability and success. You need to understand that the more detailed the plan, the better the opportunity for the reviewer to flow with the potential success of the business, which will most likely create a higher likelihood of approval.
Note that a good and credible business plan should contain detailed and verifiable information about the new enterprise that will be supported by the EB-5 investment. EB-5 business plans, whether for regional center or direct investment projects, are expected to meet the requirements set in Matter of Ho.
It is very important that EB-5 investors and prospective applicants understand the Matter of Ho elements and make sure the business plan submitted to USCIS contains each element in sufficient detail, is presented professionally, and includes all supporting documentation and data.
How to Write a Winning Business Plan for EB-5 Visa Program That is Immigration Compliant
It’s very important to state that four pronounced decisions were issued in 1998 regarding the requirements for a comprehensive business plan, now part of the EB-5 (I-526) immigrant application. To gain application approval, the investor is expected to define the purpose of their business, how the money will be spent, and the timetable in determining the creation of 10 full-time jobs.
Contrary to normal business plans, the EB-5 is exceptional because it mandates business plans to include elements such as identification of the target market, market analysis (comparing and contrasting competitors’ strengths and weaknesses), the structure of the business’s current and future personnel, and the growth plans and sustainability of the business, and its ability to maintain the jobs it has created for U.S. workers. Below are factors and points to guide you through the rigorous process of putting together an EB-5 business plan.
- Business Description
You need to understand that the key purpose of the business description is to give USCIS an overview of the (proposed) business.
This must surely include the (i) industry, (ii) business purpose, operations, and personnel, (iii) mission statement, (iv) business history and future plans, and (v) other information that will provide the agency with an engaging overview of the business. In the description, USCIS needs to understand first hand the concept, Business model and likelihood of success.
- Needed Licenses and Permits
Starting and running a successful business means addressing all needed permits and licenses. Federal and state licenses are mostly required of businesses that fall under categories important to the general public, or those that provide professional services very important to the public welfare. Local licenses usually fall under the category of occupational licenses or business taxes, and possibly sanitation or similar permitting for specific businesses.
- Marketing Plan with Target Market Analysis
You will have to inculcate a meaningful marketing plan and budget that will assist USCIS in understanding the likelihood of the business’s success. Note that a well-developed marketing plan is a very crucial component of any business; it is the roadmap for promoting the product or service being sold, enabling the business to get noticed by the “right” people–the target market.
A business that attempts to operate without a marketing plan will likely end up wasting money, losing sales, and ultimately might fail. Notably, in an EB-5 business plan, the marketing plan must often address two different target markets –the prospective INVESTORS in the business, and the actual END-USERS of the business’s products or services.
- Personnel Experience
This part of the business plan may normally include a good brief of the business’s management, key personnel, and their experience, management philosophy, backgrounds, organization, and functions. A description of personnel functions and the use of visuals, such as tables and organizational charts, are effective. The organizational structure should be sound and follow generally accepted business practices for similar businesses.
- Competitive Analysis
It’s basically your job to analyze competitors in terms of market penetration, prices, jobs, products, services, and other important factors. It is very crucial to explicitly explain the differences between existing businesses and the new enterprise.
Understanding the weaknesses and strengths of the proposed business when compared to competitors paints a picture for USCIS of the challenges and advantages that the business is likely to face and demonstrates an objective approach.
- Business Structure
EB-5 investors are expected to invest in a for-profit, new commercial ventures established for the ongoing conduct of lawful business, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, holding companies, joint ventures, corporations, business trusts, or any other lawful entity.
Have it in mind that the EB-5 investment visa has no specific requirement for the type of business structure, this choice is very important in terms of legal, tax, and management considerations. The three most common EB-5 entities are limited partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies.
- Plans for Hiring
Have it in mind that the EB-5 program mandates every new business to establish a minimum of 10 new full-time jobs for a period of two years and/or to save 10 jobs that would have otherwise been eliminated. A compliant business plan needs to demonstrate that each investment will establish those 10 jobs through a detailed staffing plan, including a clear timetable for employee hiring, ideally in the narrative and visually.
- Roles and Descriptions
Roles and responsibilities of staff are very delicate part of any business organization and a necessary element of a business plan. Job description tells the USCIS about the jobs that will be established by the business, and the roles and responsibilities of each job. They should be practical, clear, and accurate, and directly correlate to the project.
- Budget and Financial Projections
Also remember that the business plan is expected to be well-documented with financial projections including sales, costs, budgets, and income over a period of five years. The budget must also show the basis and assumptions for these projections.
It must show the source of funds to start up, support, and maintain the business, as well as detailing the uses of funds raised from investors. Note that all financial projections must be based upon generally accepted accounting principles and reasonable business models.
In recent years, investors have been choosing the EB-5 direct investment option because of its numerous benefits. But, creating a good business plan takes a more elaborate expertise and its advisable you hire a qualified professional to develop it for you.
This is particularly the case if you are seeking bank financing and/or applying for an immigration petition. Although the above detail came from an EB-5 case, business plans for E-2 & L-1 Visas should follow a similar format.