The EB-5 Business Plan: What is Matter of Ho?
Of all the requirements called for in an EB-5 business plan, one of the most prominent, yet most widely unknown is the Matter of Ho compliance requirement for EB5 Visa Business Plans. Regardless of whether your application calls for a hypothetical, exemplar, or affiliate business plan, USCIS still requires that your document conforms to this legal standard. But what is Matter of Ho, and how do you create a document that USCIS will find in compliance?
Issued by the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) in 1998, Matter of Ho is a precedent decision that defines the requirements for the EB-5 visa business plan. It is often cited with respect to the I-526 immigrant petition package, which includes the aforementioned business plan.
Generally, Matter of Ho requires that, in order to get I-526 petition approval, your business plan must be clear about what the business activity is, where it will be located, how the capital will be spent, and how and when employment will be created. In other words, your business plan must be able to convince the USCIS officer that the business you are investing in is good enough to warrant granting you an immigration visa.
Requirements of Matter of Ho:
The main requirement of Matter of Ho is that your EB-5 business plan must be “a comprehensive, detailed and credible business plan demonstrating the job creation and potential of the new commercial enterprise.” Your business plan should:
- Be sufficiently detailed to convince USCIS that your business has real potential to create jobs.
- Start with a clear and concise executive summary. It is your sales pitch that often determines the success or failure of your petition. In it, you should introduce yourself and your new business and its objectives, operations, and job creation potential.
- Provide detailed descriptions of your business, organization structure, staffing, cost of employment, the experience of key personnel, and the responsibilities assigned to individuals holding different job roles.
- Show the amount of capital you have invested (or are going to invest) in the business and the source of your funds. You must show that your investment is at real risk and that the sources of the funds are legal.
- Demonstrate clearly that your business is likely to generate the employment necessary to make you eligible for a business visa.
- Include a well-researched and compelling market and/or industry analysis, describing in detail the target market and potential customers.
- Include a comparison of existing and potential competitors with a well-researched SWOT analysis (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).
- Contain a detailed sales and marketing strategy based on your knowledge of the market, industry, and competitors.
- Explain in an easily understood manner how your business operates and how the products and services are monetized.
- Be very transparent with the financial information. Ideally, you should show a 5-year forecast of profit and loss, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Look credible. You should avoid making assertions and speculations. If you are making any claim, it should be supported with independent and verifiable evidence.
- Should be consistent with the information provided in other parts of the I-526 petition and the information that may be discovered by the USCIS when reviewing your petition.
The key to the success of your EB-5 business visa petition is an impeccable business plan that is in full compliance with the Matter of Ho. Therefore, the plan should be prepared by a professional business plan writer who is knowledgeable of all the requirements, is detail-oriented, and understands employment generation and financial planning, as it applies to this specific visa.