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EB5 program provides fast track to getting U.S. visa, with a $500K investment

Posted on January 5, 2016
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WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) — Rich foreign-born citizens who want to invest in the United States can get a fast track for an American visa while others wait in line. The program, called EB5, allows those who invest at least $500,000 to get a green card and has been around for more than 25 years. It was just extended once again with the passage of the Omnibus spending Bill.

EB5 funded projects include the Washington Coliseum in D.C., and New York City’s Hudson Yards.

The group, “Invest In the USA,” on its website called EB5 “an important tool for economic development and job creation at no cost to taxpayers.”

Three billionaires from very different backgrounds, also touted its benefits, in a New York Times op-ed.

Sheldon Adelson, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates asserted:

“People willing to invest in America and create jobs deserve the opportunity to do so.”

But the program, which has grown immensely since it first started back in 1990 has not been without its fair share of controversy, from a Ponzi scheme in Chicago where dozens of investors were cheated out of millions of dollars, to whistleblowers claims that those chosen for the program don’t get thorough background checks

“This program has been plagued with fraud and abuse but more importantly it poses significant national security risk,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on the Senate floor in December.

Grassley complained EB5 is supposed to help low income areas but instead benefits wealthy developers. He called for reform and listed allegations against it, including terrorist travel, economic espionage and money laundering.

The Government Accountability Institute’s Peter Schweizer said despite the high price tag, plenty take advantage of the controversial program.

“If you live in a country like China or India where it’s politically unstable, the economics are kind of shakey, the United States is a great sort of second place to have,” Schweizer said.

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