I’m preparing for a webinar next week that will discuss “What goes into an EB-5 business plan?” This is a good question, and depends on the further questions “What does the business plan need to accomplish?” and “In what context will the business plan be used?” The following matrix helps visualize the goals and contexts that can affect EB-5 business plan content.
People who talk about EB-5 plans tend to focus on just one quadrant – 1A, positive standards for success in USCIS review – and especially on Matter of Ho-compliance. But if you study examples of EB-5 plans gone wrong (AAO denial decisions, lawsuits, unfunded projects), you know that it’s not enough to simply follow the business plan definition in the EB-5 precedent decision Matter of Ho. A plan can be beautifully detailed, covering all the Matter of Ho points from business description down to income projections, but still fail USCIS review due to inconsistencies with external evidence or to mismatch with program requirements (for example describing an enterprise that isn’t “new” or jobs that aren’t “qualifying” as defined by the EB-5 regulations). A perfunctory, formulaic business plan written to satisfy bare minimum requirements can pass USCIS review, but that document will never reach USCIS if it needs to and fails to attract investors. USCIS won’t table a plan for being an ungainly document, or ignore it because the proposal isn’t sufficiently appealing, or cite it in a lawsuit for being misleading. Investors may well do all those things. In my documents detailing direct and regional center EB-5 business plan standards (linked from my Business Plans page), I consider factors in each quadrant of the above matrix of goals and contexts. Investor review is not always an issue (not all investors look to the EB-5 business plan to introduce the business), and review outside USCIS takes different forms depending on the advisors involved. But it’s generally wise to look beyond the Matter of Ho box when writing or reviewing an EB-5 business plan.