Since its onset, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has been demonized in the press. Accused of being a haven for fraudsters and operating as a “pay for citizenship” scheme, the EB-5 program’s many merits have been overshadowed by the small number of fraudulent cases that have occurred under its name. While we in the EB-5 industry do not deny that fraud sometimes crops up, we unequivocally condemn it and recognize the EB-5 program for what it really is: a broadly positive program that has fostered the U.S. economy and brought countless jobs to unemployed U.S. citizens and residents. Most EB-5 projects are headed by the type of people who have made the United States into the prosperous country it is today: passionate entrepreneurs with a vision.
On top of the existing negative press, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the EB-5 program was struck with yet more demonization. Originating from sources unknown, rumors began to crop up that President Trump might dramatically increase the number of EB-5 visas and reduce the minimum required investment amount to foster foreign investment in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. They were, of course, completely unfounded: Senator Lindsey Graham, who was said to be pioneering the move, stated unequivocally that he would never use a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic to promote the EB-5 program. However, his vehement denial caused little change: The damage to the EB-5 program’s reputation could not be undone.
In addition to the negative press the EB-5 program receives, operational challenges from within the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) also abound. In FY2019, the IPO processed a shockingly low number of I-526 and I-829 petitions, increasing the EB-5 backlogs and drawing further criticism from industry participants. Some prospective investors have even voiced their intent to explore immigration options in other countries, giving up on the EB-5 program entirely. Facing these two storms at the same time, the EB-5 industry needs to collectively crack down on the problems facing the program to ensure the EB-5 program continues into the future.
Tell Us About Your EB-5 Successes
Even though most EB-5 projects are overwhelmingly positive, these stories don’t make it into the press. Let’s change that with EB5 Investors Magazine’s new initiative. The magazine is aiming to show EB-5 investors, industry participants, and everyday U.S. citizens all the good the EB-5 program has brought to the United States over the years. These stories of positive change showcasing the reality of the EB-5 program are the first step to combatting the years of misleading media stories telling of a fraud-riddled program.
EB5 Investors Magazine is calling on all EB-5 regional centers and project developers to share the stories of how they’ve helped make communities across the United States a better place to live. By submitting EB-5 success stories, EB-5 industry professionals can show the public how much capital the program brings in, the number of jobs the program has created, and the number of lives that the program has positively changed. With enough positive press, the EB-5 program can transform its image into one that reflects reality: a thorough, rigorous economic stimulus program that creates countless employment opportunities for American workers.
Share Your Unreasonable RFEs to Hold USCIS Accountable
While negative media coverage keeps public opinion of the EB-5 program low, issues of operational inefficacy are causing a rift within the EB-5 industry. The incredibly low adjudication rates of FY2019, clearly marked by Sarah Kendall’s takeover of the IPO, have increased EB-5 backlogs and fostered doubt and distrust among EB-5 investors and other industry participants. Such operational problems threaten the future of the EB-5 program because if the distrust grows too large, participants could begin to leave the industry. What could change it all would be if Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) were held accountable for its unreasonable practices in FY2019 and FY2020.
That’s precisely what the IIUSA Public Policy Committee is looking to do. The committee is inviting EB-5 investors to help it make a case against USCIS and its unreasonable adjudication practices in the hopes of improving the situation and speeding up adjudication. The issuance of requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs) has increased in the time since Sarah Kendall took over the program, and a pattern of unreasonable requests has started to emerge. In line with such complaints, IIUSA is asking EB-5 investors who have received an unreasonable RFE request to censor out the personal information and send an example of the document to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask Congress to Recognize the Benefits of the EB-5 Program
Holding USCIS accountable for failing to do its job isn’t the only pro-EB-5 initiative IIUSA has put forward. The committee has also written up a public letter of support addressed to Congress, asking them to recognize the many ways in which the EB-5 program benefits the United States. The letter contains specific details about the EB-5 program’s contributions to U.S. society between 2008 and 2015: $20.6 billion in foreign capital brought to the United States and 731,792 new jobs for U.S. workers. IIUSA invites EB-5 stakeholders, businesses, and project developers from across the United States to call on Congress to support the EB-5 program and ensure it can continue to bring in foreign capital and create new jobs to improve life in the United States.