Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa





EB-5 Visa Program Faces Tough Questions

Dec 20, 2013


EB-5 Visa Program Faces Tough Questions



The EB-5 visa program has been used for decades as a tool to encourage foreign investment and job creation in the United States in exchange for a U.S. visa.  Over the past three years, there has been a remarkable increase in the amount of foreigners using this visa program.  At first glance, this appeared to be a positive development.  But, as whistleblowers came forward, and we took a detailed look, there appear to be some major flaws that need fixing.

For instance, last week I sent a letter to the Acting Director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement inquiring about a memo from his agency that expressed grave concerns about the EB-5 visa program.  The internal memo identified several areas of vulnerability within the EB-5 visa program, and it questioned whether the vulnerabilities could be fixed in order to “ensure the integrity of the program.”

I was especially concerned about a section of the memo that outlines how the EB-5 program “may be abused by Iranian operatives to infiltrate the United States.”  According to the memo, Immigrations and Custom Enforcement investigators became concerned about the program while scrutinizing operatives who allegedly “facilitate terrorism and are involved in an illicit procurement network that exports items to Iran... .”

Whistleblowers provided this memo, as well as evidence that the leadership team at Citizenship and Immigration Services was susceptible to political pressure and favoritism.  The U.S. immigration system should be governed by equal application of the law—not by who has the best political connections to the director of the agency.  Unfortunately, despite concerns of many senators and an ongoing investigation by the independent Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security, Senate Democrats proceeded to vote on the now former director of Citizenship and Immigration Services to be the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

The national security concerns that whistleblowers brought forward, along with the internal memo, show reason to take a hard look at the EB-5 visa program and what fixes need to be made to ensure that the security of the American people isn’t compromised.