EB-5 Banking, The Best Banking Solutions for Eb-5 Regional Centers + Approaches to Successful EB-5 Banking 2024

Elevate your EB-5 Regional Center's financial strategy with specialized banking solutions. Uncover proven approaches for seamless and successful EB-5 banking ventures. Navigate the complexities of financial management with precision and confidence.

last updated Monday, March 4, 2024
#EB-5 Banking #EB-5 bank

John Burson     Subscribe


What happens to EB-5 Capital when a bank fails?

Large percentages of uninsured deposits at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank meant that deposits over $250,000 for a single depositor were not covered. Fortunately, the FDIC protection was temporarily expanded to cover deposits beyond $250,000 in SVB and Signature Bank circumstances, safeguarding the balance and enabling depositors to transfer their funds to other financial institutions.

However, deposits over $250,000 may not be covered by FDIC insurance if another bank fails in the future.

Although some bank failures have prevented depositors from losing their money, this is not a reliable outcome.
Any depositor with more than $250,000 at a single institution risks losing their whole sum if a bank fails.
Currently, an EB-5 investor must invest a minimum of $800,000.

In addition to the disastrous impact on the investor's family's immigration status, $550,000 would be lost and uninsured if those monies were placed at a single financial institution that fails.

Regional Centers should provide a customizable approach that maximizes investor money's security rather than leaving investor deposits uninsured.

Why EB-5 Stakeholders Are Especially Vulnerable to Bank Failures

Three of the four biggest bank collapses in US history have occurred in 2003. Even though the causes of these banks' financial difficulties varied, they all shared the traits of being regional banks that catered to specialty deposits—the very kind of banks frequently utilized for EB-5 subscriptions. Signature Bank was a significant participant in EB-5 banking, which federal regulators acquired in March.

Given the greater likelihood of larger banks weathering a financial crisis,

  • Why are regional banks the preferred choice for EB-5 deposits?
  • What steps may be taken to reduce risk and reassure investors about the security of their money?
  • Understanding what a bank must have to accept EB-5 deposits,
  • What may go wrong and how to give investors flexibility are necessary to safeguard investor cash.

Best Banking Solutions For EB-5 Regional Centers 

When starting an EB-5 investment journey, investors put much on the line. Not only is their invested capital at risk, but their immigration status depends on successfully using that capital to create jobs for US taxpayers.

A failure to invest the funds in job-creating activities promptly could mean losing their chance to resettle in America, so they can't afford to make a mistake. EB-5 investors want security for their funds, and the best way to provide that is to avoid restricting your banking to a single institution and opt for a flexible option.

These investors are more concerned with security than profits; they want to know that their money will be handled wisely and that their visa applications will be approved. Choosing the proper banking partner can ensure that money will be safeguarded because we have seen what happens when a bank fails in 2023.

eb banking

Fig: Best Banking Solutions for EB-5 Regional Centers

Bigger Bank Isn’t Always Better

Given the greater likelihood of larger banks weathering a financial crisis, why are regional banks preferred for EB-5 deposits? What steps may be taken to reduce risk and reassure investors about the security of their money?

Understanding what a bank must have to accept EB-5 deposits, what may go wrong, and how to give investors flexibility are necessary to safeguard investor cash.

In contrast to their larger counterparts, regional banks are motivated to acquire additional deposits. Therefore, it is beneficial for them to devote the time and resources to comprehend EB-5 regulations and create internal procedures that abide by regulatory requirements.

They can establish a specialized business where they won't have to compete with bigger banks by focusing on industries like EB-5. Investors who gain from a bank with EB-5 experience should view this specialism as advantageous.

In the complicated and multifaceted world of EB-5, regulatory compliance is crucial. Regional banks with specialized EB-5 program knowledge might assure investors that their money will be released when needed and funds won't be distributed in a way that contravenes EB-5 regulations, even if larger banks were an option.

Regional banks can carry a higher level of risk because of their high leverage ratios and propensity to overleverage in particular industries. Normal depositors don't need to worry about this risk because their money is protected by FDIC insurance.

  • However, what about people who deposit more than the FDIC maximum of $250,000?
  • Will their money be lost?

Third-party Banking Solution

  • As was previously mentioned, each depositor's funds at a particular financial institution are guaranteed up to $250,000.
  • Each investor is entitled to the full $250,000 FDIC insurance at each financial institution if their EB-5 account is constructed correctly and managed in a way that allows the FDIC insurance to pass through to the beneficiaries.
  • To ensure that no investor owns more than $250,000 at any one bank, four or more banks would be required for every investor.
  • It could be challenging for Regional Centers to keep track of all the investors, accounts, and financial institutions involved. Working with banking and escrow partners that can do so is vital since it allows you to have constant visibility into the whereabouts of each investor's assets.
  • A system of reciprocity is used by a group of banks operating as a depository bank to distribute investor deposits among themselves to guarantee complete FDIC coverage.
    This arrangement is referred to as a "deposit sweep solution." But, the number of participating schools might be limited, meaning there won't be much choice.
    Banks sometimes must pay to participate in deposit sweep programs; these expenses may be charged to depositors as fees.
  • An independent deposit option unrelated to a specific bank is the substitute. Since third parties can operate with any bank, they can either work with our clients to choose institutions they are familiar with and trust or direct deposits to our most dependable partners. Thanks to this, Regional Centers now have more options regarding where to place investor funds.
  • Due to higher interest rates, Regional Centers can also wish to designate a portion of investor funds to a particular financial institution or use deposits as credit to obtain better EB-5 loan terms. They can distribute deposits according to their priorities using a flexible banking solution.

Protecting Against Bank Failures

While deposit sweep and independent solutions offer complete FDIC coverage to reduce risk, depositors who choose an independent solution have more control over where their deposits are kept. They can transfer those funds to other institutions much more easily should circumstances change.

Five Approaches to Successful EB-5 Banking

Many EB-5 project sponsors struggle with banking complexities due to a lack of understanding. This article addresses critical banking issues and offers five actionable approaches to ensure a smooth and successful partnership.

Key Considerations

  • Stringent Regulations
    Banks operate in a heightened regulatory environment, impacting risk tolerance and account management practices. Sponsors must be aware of these regulations and demonstrate compliance.
  • High Turnover
    Over 99% of US banks avoid EB-5 deposits due to perceived risks. Expect potential changes in banking partners and be prepared to adapt.
  • Investor Protection
    Banks prioritize investor safety, which can lead to seemingly onerous rules. Embrace their role as guardians and provide comprehensive documentation.

Let’s start with facts:

  • 6,414 banks are holding $11.8T in the US as of May 2015, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (,
  • Over 99% of these institutions refuse to accept EB-­5 deposits into escrow accounts due to the perceived risk of the EB-­5 program.
  • Over five to seven years, EB-­5 capital moves through as many as four or five bank accounts (usually through more than one institution) as dollars are invested in a project.

EB-­5 project sponsors are highly dependent on the banks for EB-­5 success.  

Bank officers may decide to exit any client type, region, market, or deposit type – and this is a top-down, non-negotiable position.   Over the last few years, this has occurred too often in the EB-­5 Market. Several banks that once accepted EB-­5 deposits into escrow suddenly decided to exit the market and decline new accounts.

Sometimes, the banks resigned as escrow agents, forcing issuers to find alternative arrangements and risk losing investors.

Issuers may find bank rules onerous but need the banks to be non-­-disruptive partners.  Here are five approaches that issuers can take to avoid disruption, stay efficient, and ensure EB-­5 banking success:

1. Change the Way You Think about Banks as Escrow Agents

While negotiating deals may be your usual business practice, remember that EB banking isn't your typical marketplace. A combative approach is risky and counterproductive when securing an escrow account for your project.

Here's why:

  • Limited Options
    Unlike commercial loans, your pool of potential EB-5 escrow banks is tiny. Aggressive tactics could damage your chances of finding a partner altogether.
  • Building Trust Wins
    Think partnership, not negotiation. Banks prioritize security and investor protection. You earn their trust by demonstrating transparency, providing thorough documentation, and adhering to regulations, creating a solid foundation for collaboration.

Benefits of a Good Relationship

A supportive approach pays off:

  • Faster Sales
    Investors feel secure knowing their funds are handled by a reputable bank, facilitating quicker sales for your project.
  • Smoother Transactions
    A trusting relationship translates to efficient communication and streamlined processes, minimizing roadblocks.
  • Long-Term Partnership
    Cultivating goodwill positions you favorably for future collaborations with the bank, benefiting your long-term goals.

Choosing the Right Partner

Look for a bank that:

  • Has a solid reputation
    Choose a financially stable institution with established trust.
  • Knows EB-5 or partners with experts
    Experience or collaboration with escrow specialists provides additional confidence.
  • Prioritizes investor protection
    Align your values with a bank that shares your commitment to safeguarding investor interests.

By prioritizing genuine collaboration and building trust, you can secure an escrow account and a valuable partner for your EB-5 journey, leading to faster sales, smoother transactions, and a successful project.

2. Plan Ahead

EB-5 project sponsors face unique challenges regarding investor nationalities and currency restrictions. Here's what you need to know:

  • Country Restrictions
    • Banks have internal lists of high-risk countries, often exceeding government restrictions. These lists can impact investor participation.
    • Discuss your expected investor nationalities with potential bank partners upfront. Partner with a bank willing to serve your target demographic.
  • Currency Restrictions
    • Certain countries impose limitations on extracting funds. This can affect wire transfers and investor contributions.
    • Be aware of potential currency conversion complexities and discuss them with your bank to ensure smooth transactions.
  • FBO Wires and Alternatives
    • Some banks disallow FBO (for the benefit of) wires, a standard method for related-party transfers. Be prepared to discuss alternative solutions.
    • Explore options like direct transfers from investor accounts or alternative wire services compatible with your target countries.

Key Takeaway

  • Open and early communication with potential bank partners is crucial.
  • Select a bank experienced in EB-5, familiar with your target investor countries, and flexible in navigating potential currency restrictions.

By proactively addressing these issues, you can ensure a smooth and successful partnership with your chosen bank, ultimately benefiting your EB-5 project and its investors.

3. Plan the capital stack carefully

The increasing I-526 processing times (14.1 months on average) create challenges for EB-5 projects seeking capital quickly. While "early release" escrow structures from some banks seem appealing, aligning them with project needs can be tricky. Bridge financing offers a powerful solution:

The Challenge

  • Traditional escrow holds funds until I-526 approval, limiting project progress.
  • Early release structures may have strict terms misaligned with the project's timeline.

The Bridge Solution

  1. Secure bridge financing
    Pre-arrange bridge or mezzanine loans to access initial capital.
  2. Utilize EB-5 funds strategically.
    Repay the bridge loan with EB-5 funds after I-526 approval for maximum investor protection.
  3. Address urgent needs
    For projects requiring immediate capital with no other funding options, re-evaluate suitability for EB-5.

Benefits of Bridge Financing

  • Faster fundraising
    Access capital promptly to kickstart project progress.
  • More flexible escrow
    Negotiate escrow terms better aligned with your project's timing.
  • Reduced risk perception
    Mitigate bank concerns by demonstrating alternative funding sources.

By strategically leveraging bridge financing, EB-5 projects can unlock the benefits of early-release escrows, accelerate development, and enhance investor confidence. Careful planning and alternative funding options are crucial to navigating the evolving EB-5 landscape.

4. Comply with Document Requests Swiftly and Completely

The EB-5 Program is shifting, and banks are adjusting their sails to navigate increasingly stringent regulations. While this may seem like a hassle, understanding the reasons behind these changes can put you, the project sponsor, in a better position to collaborate and succeed.

Key Points

  • Heightened Regulation
    Banks face intense pressure from AML, BSA, OFAC, and other regulatory bodies. This translates to evolving rules and stricter document requests.
  • Transparency is Paramount
    Expect thorough KYC (Know Your Client) procedures and be prepared to provide comprehensive documentation about your project, entities involved, and investors.
  • Flexibility is Key
    Regulations and bank requirements can change, so be prepared to adapt and remain flexible.
  • Compliance Reigns Supreme
    Risk and compliance officers, not relationship managers, call the shots. Remember, compliance is non-negotiable.

How to Proactively Partner with Banks

  • Start Early
    Initiate conversations with potential bank partners early in the process.
  • Be Transparent
    Provide complete and accurate information upfront.
  • Stay Informed
    Keep yourself updated on evolving regulations and banking trends.
  • Build Trust
    Foster a collaborative relationship based on open communication and mutual respect.

By understanding the compliance landscape and adopting a proactive approach, you can build stronger relationships with banks, facilitate smoother transactions, and ultimately achieve your EB-5 project goals.


  • Collaboration and preparedness are crucial to navigating the evolving EB-5 banking environment.

5. Maintain a Central Repository of Documents

The complex nature of EB-5 projects demands meticulous record-keeping. Complying with bank requests and immigration processes requires many documents, and being prepared for audits or compliance checks is crucial. Here's how to stay organized and efficient:

  • Embrace a Centralized Repository
    • Ditch the scattered file system! Invest in a secure, central repository for all your EB-5 documents, accessible to authorized personnel.
    • Cloud-based solutions offer easy access and collaboration tools, while physical options like secure servers ensure offline safety.
  • Be Proactive in Your Approach
    • Don't wait for requests. Anticipate document needs for both bank compliance and USCIS processes.
    • Maintain a clear classification system, categorizing documents by type, project stage, and investor.
    • Implement a robust naming convention for easy identification and retrieval.
  • Build Your Efficiency Toolkit
    • Leverage document scanning and management software to streamline processes.
    • Utilize optical character recognition (OCR) technology to make scanned documents searchable.
    • Set up automated reminders for document expiration or renewal dates.


  • Regular backups are essential to prevent data loss.
  • Establish clear access protocols and security measures for your chosen repository.
  • Train your team on proper document filing and retrieval procedures.

By fostering a culture of organization and leveraging technology, you can easily navigate the document demands of the EB-5 Program, ensuring compliance, efficiency, and peace of mind.


Finding the right banking partner is crucial for the success of your EB-5 regional center. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you navigate the process as an Eb-5 Sponsors:

What are the key factors to consider when choosing an EB-5 bank?

  • Experience with EB-5
    Look for a bank with a proven track record in handling EB-5 projects and understanding the EB5 Program's unique requirements.
  • Escrow capabilities
    Ensure the bank offers escrow services that comply with EB-5 regulations and meet your project's needs.
  • Compliance expertise
    Choose a bank with a strong understanding of relevant anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Client (KYC) regulations.
  • Competitive rates and fees
    Compare fees and interest rates across different banks to find the most cost-effective solution.
  • Financial stability and reputation
    Partner with a financially stable and reputable bank to ensure the security of investor funds.

What types of banking services do EB-5 regional centers typically need?

  • Escrow accounts
    Hold investor funds safely and securely until specific conditions are met for release.
  • Operating accounts
    Manage everyday business transactions related to the project.
  • International wire transfers
    Facilitate the transfer of funds from investors around the world.
  • Loan options
    Depending on your project, you may need access to bridge loans or other financing solutions.

Are there any regulatory considerations specific to EB-5 banking?

Yes, banks are subject to strict regulations from various agencies, including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). It's crucial to choose a bank for EB-5 investments that are well-versed in these regulations and can ensure compliance with all applicable laws.

What documents do I need to provide to banks when seeking EB-5 services?

  • Be prepared to provide comprehensive documentation about your project, including business plans, financial projections, offering materials, and investor information.
  • Banks may also require additional documents depending on your specific needs and circumstances.

How can I build a strong relationship with my EB-5 bank?

  • Maintain open and transparent communication with your bank throughout the EB 5 visa funds process.
  • Be responsive to their requests and provide accurate information promptly.
  • Build trust by proactively addressing any concerns they may have.

Additional Resources:

Remember, choosing the right bank is essential for your EB-5 project. By carefully considering your needs, conducting thorough research, and building solid relationships, you can find a banking partner to support your success for your EB-5 Loans with the right banking solutions.


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