Federal immigration officials aren't doing enough to identify and address unique fraud and national security risks in an immigrant visa program that encourages foreign individuals to make capital investments and create jobs in the U.S. in exchange for a green card and path to citizenship, congressional investigators said in a recent report.
The Government Accountability Office criticized the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in several areas, including the lack of a plan to regularly assess future risks in the Employment-Based Fifth Preference Immigrant Investor, or EB-5, Program, poor data collection efforts on participants, and an unreliable methodology for reporting outcomes and benefits.
Under the EB-5 program, foreign investors must provide $1 million in new commercial enterprises – or $500,000 in targeted areas – that result in the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs. Subsequently, they and their dependents become eligible for two-year conditional green cards. The program was initially launched as a pilot in 1992 and then reauthorized by Congress seven times since.
In recent years, the program has grown substantially. From fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2014, the total number of EB-5 visas issued rose from nearly 3,000 to more than 9,000, the Aug. 12 report (pdf) noted. But potential fraud in the program has equally grown and USCIS efforts to combat it haven't been enough.
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