Yes. A franchise may be purchased by a foreign national for EB-5 investment purposes. It is important to remember however that the normally investment amount needed to qualify for the Investor Based Green Card is $1 million unless it can be shown that the business is in a target employment area (TEA). The target employment area consideration looks at the unemployment rate of a particular statistical area or whether a location qualifies as rural in nature. This information can be obtained from local cities/counties and is important to consider along with an immigration attorney, franchise, business broker, or any other professionals involved with you in the process.
If in a qualifying TEA the investment amount is reduced to $500,000. Accordingly, if in a TEA an investor can invest $500,000 into a franchise and use this vehicle for Green CArd purposes.
Of course, after receiving the conditional Green Card an individual will have to submit an I-829 application prior to the expiration of the two year conditional Green Card to prove to the immigration service that at least ten ‘direct’ jobs have been created by the franchise. This is a major consideration that must be taken into account prior to purchasing and orating the franchise as these must be ten full-time jobs, 35 hours per week or more.
A franchise is sometimes attractive to potential foreign investors as the franchise model provides a basic framework for the investor to operate within. This can be especially helpful for someone unfamiliar with the U.S. Franchises provide proven products/services, training, a corporate image, and marketing opportunities.
Accordingly, if the regional center approach is not suitable for you as an investor then consider a franchise in addition to the option of starting up a business from scratch.