Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), member of the GOP task force on China, are requesting that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a government watchdog, review to what extent the Chinese Communist Party is abusing the U.S.’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program.
In a June 15, 2020 letter to the U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro, they wrote:
As Americans continue to suffer from the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Congress and the Trump Administration must hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for its lies and inaction. On May 21, 2020, President Trump announced a new strategic approach to the People’s Republic of China, with a goal of “protect[ing] the American people, homeland, and way of life.”
Consistent with this goal, we write to request that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) review the extent to which the CCP is abusing the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program.
They explained that Congress created the EB-5 program in 1990 with a goal of stimulating capital investment and job creation from foreign investors:
The program, run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), provides a path to citizenship for immigrants who invest a certain amount of money and create jobs within the United States.
In 1992, Congress created the Regional Center Program, which allocates EB-5 visas for foreign nationals who invest in commercial enterprises associated with EB-5 Regional Centers.
However, they said, although the EB-5 program was meant to stimulate capital investment and job creation in the U.S., it has “become clear in recent years that the CCP may be abusing the program to gain access to U.S. permanent residency for their members.”
They said between 2012 and 2018, 80 percent of the nearly 10,000 EB-5 visas available each year went to Chinese-born investors, and the vast majority of the EB-5 backlog currently consists of Chinese investors.
They said Chinese investors have proven they are willing to wait as long as ten years to receive an immigrant visa.
In 2016, GAO published a report about USCIS’s progress on detecting and preventing fraud within the program, but it did not examine national security concerns with the program.
Currently, USCIS cannot deny or revoke a regional center determination on the basis of national security, Jordan wrote.
“As Congress reevaluates our relationship with the People’s Republic of China, the time is ripe for GAO to again examine the EB-5 program,” they said.
They requested GAO examine and report on the following:
1. USCIS’s improvements to detect fraud in the EB-5 program, as well as the CCP’s efforts to avoid fraud detection;
2. The extent to which the CCP has utilized the EB-5 program for its members to obtain immigrant visas;
3. The statutory and programmatic gaps in the EB-5 program’s authorities that hinder USCIS from considering national security concerns in its adjudication of EB-5 related petitions and applications; and
4. The cumulative amount of EB-5 investment funding derived from the CCP or investors associated with the CCP.