The United States offers 140,000 immigration visas each year based on applicants’ job skills — or, in one special category, on the ability to invest $500,000 to $1 million.
That latter category — known as the “employment based fifth preference visa” or EB-5 — has shown itself to be especially susceptible to corruption and of questionable worth.
Started in 1990 by Congress to stimulate economic activity, it is a program that is no longer necessary.
Under the EB-5 program, a foreign investor (and spouse and unmarried children) can become eligible to live and work in the United States permanently if they invest $1 million in a “new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers.” The price drops to $500,000 if the investment is in a rural area or a place with 150 percent of the national unemployment rate.
The program, which awards about 10,000 visas each year, makes it possible to prey on potential immigrants who are vulnerable to such scams and to advice from unqualified advisers.”
While the program has attracted billions to the Seattle area, in at least three cases it has caught the attention of Securities and Exchange Commission investigators.
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