To encourage foreign investment in the U.S. economy through the EB-5 category, Congress created an EB-5 Pilot Program in 1993. By so doing, Congress permitted the U.S. immigration agency to designate qualified applicants as Regional Centers. A Regional Center is a private enterprise or corporation or a regional governmental agency with a targeted investment program within a defined geographic region. The Regional Center program in many ways mirrors long active and successful investment-employment based programs in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and other foreign nations. The Regional Center Investment Program allocates 3,000 green cards each year for people who invest in designated Regional Centers. The Program has been renewed several times, and is currently due to expire September 30, 2008. The Regional Center Investment Program does not require that the foreign investor's enterprise itself directly employ 10 U.S. workers. Instead, it is enough if 10 or more jobs will be created directly or indirectly as a result of the investment. The Regional Center Investment Program aids foreign investors by directing and professionally managing their investment in the designated business and geographic focus of their Regional Center. Before an investor can participate in a Regional Center EB-5 investment program, each investor must independently petition USCIS for an EB-5 visa. USCIS solely determines whether the investor qualifies for the EB-5 visa. USCIS' diligence includes a detailed review of the sources of the investor's funds, family history, and other representations of the head of household and his immediate family member under the age of 21. As with the regular EB-5 program, qualified investors investing through a Regional Center first receive a conditional green card valid for two years. At the end of that time the investor files another application with USCIS showing that their money was "at risk" during the two-year period and that the jobs have been created. Once those applications have been approved, the investor and his immediate family become permanent green card holders and can later apply to become U.S. citizens. The whole EB-5 process takes approximately 3-5 years or longer depending upon the timeliness, quality and validity of the investor's submissions. The requirements for an investor under the Pilot Program are essentially the same as in the basic EB-5 investor program except the Pilot Program allows for a less restrictive requirement for "indirect" rather than "direct" job creation. The capital investment requirement for any EB-5 investor, inside or outside a Regional Center is $1 million. The capital investment requirement for an EB-5 investor in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or a Rural Area (RA) is $500,000.