The return of funds (the principal invested) typically can occur in one of two ways, depending on the type of EB-5 investment. In a loan model (which is really an equity investment in an NCE and a loan from the NCE to the JCE), the return of principal is "funded" when the JCE repays the loan to the NCE and the NCE "cashes out" its investors. In an equity model, the investor must find a willing buyer (sometimes the NCE or developer, sometimes an unrelated entity) to purchase his or her equity interest in the NCE at fair market value. Hopefully, the FMV is equal to or greater than the investor's initial capital contribution. As you noted in your question, the return of funds cannot be contemplated or activated before I-829 approval.
Remember that if funds are returned to the NCE early, that they must be kept at risk, so make sure that your subscription agreement includes terms for redeployment of capital to an 'at risk' investment for this circumstance.
The terms of agreement you have with the regional center should typically spell out the exit strategies.
It depends on whether the EB-5 investment invested or loaned the EB-5 funds to the job creating enterprise. If the funds were loaned, then the loan agreement should provide the term of the loan and repayment of the loan to the EB-5 new commercial enterprise, which will then return the funds to the EB-5 investor. If the EB-5 funds were invested as an equity stake in the job creating enterprise, it becomes a little more complex. In either a loan or equity investment into the job creating enterprise, or into the new commercial enterprise, there should not be any language to guarantee the return of the funds (ie. a redemption agreement). The investors right to demand return of the capital or have an option to call the investment often leads to the interpretation that there is a redemption agreement, which generally leads to a denied I-526 petition.
All depends on the regional center. Make sure you work with one that will and can return your funds.
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