When it comes to protecting the integrity of the Program, our position continues to be clear: efficient and effective enforcement of U.S. immigration and securities laws are essential to maintain and expand the Program’s economic benefits and protect the interests of the United States.
It is important to note that in the last two years USCIS has made a number of significant improvements that were not reflected in the ABC News story which focused primarily on allegations that pre-date these changes. In 2013, USCIS launched a new Immigrant Investor Program Office staffed by fraud and national security specialists as well as trained economists and experts in business and immigration law. The agency has also clarified its guidance for adjudicators with a comprehensive policy memorandum and has strengthened interagency relationships critical to program oversight and implementation, resulting in what we believe to be a new level of cooperation with enforcement and intelligence agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS).
IIUSA has a strong track record working cooperatively with USCIS and supports these important developments and proactive steps to enhance and strengthen the EB-5 Program.
We have also worked with leading members of Congress to develop legislation that strengthens government enforcement capabilities, including integrity provisions in legislation passed by the United States Senate in 2013 (S.744) that would strengthen the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to terminate Regional Centers and screen Regional Center principals.
The EB-5 Program, like every other immigration program or visa category, relies on the federal agencies that review eligibility petitions and visa applications to conduct thorough background checks and national security screenings of all applicants. Any individual who does not meet eligibility criteria for the Program or the standards to be admitted to the country should not be given a visa, under EB-5 or any other visa category.
As an association, IIUSA has a strong code of conduct and ethics for our members and we work to educate them about the complex laws and regulations governing the Program, the importance of compliance, and following best practices for the industry. While we are not privy to ongoing government or law enforcement investigations, no one involved in the EB-5 Program – or any other line of business – should violate the law or endanger national security. If wrongdoing is found to have occurred, then the government, through appropriate law enforcement agencies and channels, should take swift action.
Program integrity is critical to our continued success. We applaud and appreciate the work of the Congress and the Administration to strengthen its oversight and enforcement activities and look forward to supporting these important initiatives.