The question is excellent. USCIS has not answered it but I will offer this perspective to the mix.
The Regional Center is supposed to be a welcoming benevolent agent of the U.S. that draws foreign investors into the U.S. economy. Regional Centers are supposed to be partners to USCIS. They are unofficial ambassadors of the U.S. and their primary responsibility to their alien investors is to make the attainment of immigration benefits (immigrant visas for the investor and family) easier by doing the hard work of project planning and coordinating multiple investors (foreign and domestic), providing sound investment strategies designed to create sufficient jobs which are supported by reasonable and valid economic predictions. The stringent statutory requirements must be met and the Regional Center bears a moral and ethical duty to its EB-5 investors to help them success in that endeavor.
Regional Centers are entities, organizations or agencies that focus on a specific geographic area within the United States in order to promote economic growth there. Most Regional Centers are in targeted employment areas, i.e., areas that have an unemployment rate that is at least 1.5 times higher than the national average. Regional Centers are designated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). The Regional Centers can not guarantee profit or the return of an investor’s principal investment which must be “at risk”.
The CIS has currently designated over 114 Regional Centers located throughout the country. Regional Center opportunities range from investing in real estate projects to dairy farms.
Generally less up-front investment capital is needed ($500,000 versus $1 million)
No day-to-day management required
The 10 jobs created from the investment can be direct or indirect
The investor can live and work anywhere in the U.S.
The investor can be retired
A regional center is a federally approved unit, public or private, engaged in the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, and job creation. A regional center is responsible for administering EB-5 investment funds in a way that meets the investor's EB-5 eligibility requirements.
A Regional Center is defined as any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment. The organizers of a regional center seeking the regional center designation from USCIS must submit a proposal showing:
How the regional center plans to focus on a geographical region within the U.S., and must explain how the regional center will achieve the required economic growth within this regional area
That the regional center’s business plan can be relied upon as a viable business model grounded in reasonable and credible estimates and assumptions for market conditions, project costs, and activity timelines;
How in verifiable detail (using economic models in some instances) jobs will be created directly or indirectly through capital investments made in accordance with the regional center’s business plan; and
The amount and source of capital committed to the project and the promotional efforts made and planned for the business project.
A regional center is a legal entity that has applied to the USCIS for designation to receive EB-5 capital for qualifying projects and has been approved by the USCIS for that activity in a certain geographic area for a particular set of industries. The regional center offers EB-5 investment projects to foreign investors; it does not receive EB-5 invested capital directly.