EB-5 Investor Visa Program Rebounds: More Scams to Come?
Doing its part to further the Biden administration’s mass immigration agenda, the State Department is boosting a fraud-prone cash-for-visas program that primarily benefits wealthy Chinese nationals. Latest figures show 2,600 EB-5 visas were issued to foreign investors and dependents in September, compared with 37 visas in April.
Amid negative press and COVID complications, the troubled EB-5 program had been withering since 2020. But it rebounded sharply in September when the State Department issued 2,312 visas to Chinese nationals.
“Nervous Chinese millionaires have long dominated the program. They do not necessarily want to move to the U.S. immediately, but they want another passport if things go badly in China. Many want their children to be able to live in the U.S.,” writes David North of the Center for Immigration Studies.
FAIR has reported on the national security and geopolitical implications of China dominating the EB-5 program, noting that Washington knows very little about applicants’ connections to Beijing’s aggressively authoritarian regime.
Another 288 of the September visas were distributed among dozens of other countries, with Vietnam and India garnering 82 and 56 respectively.
Some of the increased interest in EB-5 is due to pent-up demand, but the Biden administration looks at the program as yet one more tool to boost immigration by any means. EB-5 visas are capped at 10,000 a year, and will have no trouble hitting that limit at the current pace.
Meantime, program accountability and enforcement remain sketchy. Privately run EB-5 “regional centers” are back to collecting foreign investor cash – ostensibly to create U.S. jobs — with only loose government oversight. Numerous EB-5 schemes have landed in court as a result.
In a recent example of the all-too-common pattern of fraud, a Chinese citizen operating a regional center in California solicited $22.8 million from EB-5 investors for a condo/hotel venture, and then used the funds to purchase luxury cars, vacations and designer clothing for herself. She was sentenced this week to 20 years in federal prison.
Earlier this year, prosecutors charged an Indian national with bilking COVID relief funds to bankroll sham companies purportedly sponsored through the EB-5 program.
Whether EB-5 reforms passed by Congress last spring will cut down on such fraudulent activity remains to be seen. Just don’t expect much effort from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who formerly headed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the DHS subsidiary that administers EB-5. While at USCIS, Mayorkas’s orders to adjudicators vetting visa-investor eligibility were simple: “Get to Yes.”