Federal agents on Wednesday executed search warrants at several sites in greater Los Angeles that the authorities say were connected to a $50 million visa fraud operation that enabled Chinese citizens, including fugitives from the law, to secure green cards for permanent residency in the United States.
The multiyear investigation, which used Mandarin-speaking agents, is the latest to highlight abuses in the EB-5 program, which offers foreign investors a fast path to a green card. The program is also the target of a crackdown by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The search warrants include allegations of visa fraud, money laundering and “inducing foreigners to reside in the U.S. in violation of the law.” More than 100 people have been linked to the scheme, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which worked with the F.B.I. on the investigation.
Under the EB-5 program, foreigners and their immediate families are eligible for a green card if they invest $500,000 in a development project in an area of high unemployment that creates at least 10 jobs. Participation can result in a green card in less than a year in some instances. The cards can normally take a decade to obtain through sponsorship from an American employer or relative.
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