Individuals who are seeking a green card and pathway to citizenship have likely heard of a program known as EB-5. The EB-5 visa allows a wealthy immigrant entrepreneur to make an investment into the United States in exchange for a green card. The investment into the United States must meet certain requirements regarding minimum amounts and other requirements before it can confer an immigration benefit. Furthermore, should a green card be issued due to the initial fulfillment of conditions, the immigrant will still need to petition once again to have the conditions removed from the card.
This means that immigrant investors who are participating in the EB-5 program for a green card must satisfy a number of government agencies. At each and every step in the process, the immigrant investor must ensure that he or she is complying with all obligations. Furthermore, he or she must ensure that sufficient evidence and records are being kept so that the EB-5 applicant can prove that the conditions should be removed from the green card. The Orlando immigration lawyers of Colombo & Hurd can help with each step of the process.
EB-5 Visas Are Issued by USCIS
EB-5 visas are primarily handled by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS is the main regulatory body that will oversee the process and assess the filings submitted by the immigrant investor. USCIS begins its oversight into the process starting with the initial Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. At this stage in the process, USCIS may elect to utilize its fraud detection unit or conduct an audit or a site visit to ensure that the investment is legitimate.
USCIS will oversee the entire process. This also includes when it comes time for the immigrant investor to show that the EB-5 investment satisfied all job creation and other requirements. When the EB-5 investor files to remove conditions placed on his or her green card, he or she will file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence along with supporting evidence. USCIS will process and make a determination regarding these filings.
Applicants Must Also Satisfy Additional Government and Independent Watchdogs
An EB-5 investment can also be characterized a “security” for the purposes of the Securities Act of 1933. Furthermore, USCIS has reached an understanding with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which is reflected in a memorandum of understanding. The former places EB-5 investments safely within the purview of the SEC for purposes of protecting investors, detecting fraud and overseeing covered investments. As for the latter memorandum of understanding, this means that when USCIS or other agencies suspect fraud the SEC or other government agencies may intervene. Additionally, USCIS has also signed a letter of understanding with the Financial Crimes Network (FinCEN) authorizing the agency to look into potential instances of fraud or misuse of the financial system. USCIS also reportedly has a close and working relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Essentially, any and all of these government agencies can investigate potential fraud. If the agency detects sufficient evidence or proof of impropriety, it may elect to refer the matter to the Department of Justice. A prosecutor from the DOJ may choose to bring charges against the investor, regional center, or another party to the transaction. Prosecutors from the Department of Justice are experienced and aggressive. If the prosecutor believes that a crime has occurred, he or she will not hesitate to seek serious penalties. Even if serious crimes are not charged, an investigation can delay and perhaps doom an EB-5 application.
Work with an Immigration Lawyer When Filing for an EB-5 Visa
If you are considering applying for a visa through the EB-5 program, it is essential to speak with an experienced immigration lawyer who can explain the process. Due to the complexity of EB-5 filings, it is not typically recommended for individuals to proceed without representation. If an error is present in an EB-5 application packet it can theoretically jeopardize the immigrant investor’s ability to secure the full benefit of his or her investment. In certain extreme situations where a child may “age out” of the program, the immigration benefit may even be lost.
Therefore, the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer is often a necessary part of an EB-5 application. An Orlando immigration attorney of Colombo & Hurd can offer their insight, advice, and legal guidance from the start to finish of the process. To get started call our law offices at 800-659-7142 for a confidential consultation.