USA: Investor immigrants say their applications are viable despite program lapse

Of note:

A group of immigrant investors have filed a lawsuit claiming the Biden administration is unlawfully refusing to process their applications for visas and green cards after Congress allowed a major visa program they participated in to lapse.

More than a dozen plaintiffs in a complaint filed in Seattle federal court on Thursday said that while a program earmarking EB-5 visas for investors who pool money has expired, federal law still requires U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Department of State to process their applications, which were filed before the expiration.

The EB-5 program allows foreign citizens who invest $1 million in a U.S. business – or $500,000 in economically depressed areas – and create at least 10 jobs to qualify for visas and green cards.

The plaintiffs, who are citizens of Canada, Russia, India and other countries, applied to participate in the EB-5 Regional Center program, which reserves thousands of visas each year for investors who pool their money into large economic development projects.

Authorization for the program, which was first created in 1992, expired in June without action from Congress and its future is still in limbo. USCIS in December said it would not process visa and green card applications tied to the program until it is renewed.

But in Thursday’s complaint, the plaintiffs said the expiration of the program only meant that the government no longer had to grant a preference to applicants involved in the Regional Center program. The federal Immigration and Nationality Act still requires USCIS to process their EB-5 applications and set aside visas for them if they qualify, the plaintiffs said.

Jon Wasden of Wasden Banias, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said that a decision in the plaintiffs’ favor could ultimately spur USCIS to process thousands of other pending applications.

USCIS and the Department of State did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Bajaj v. Blinken, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, No. 2:22-cv-00189.

Source: Investor immigrants say their applications are viable despite program lapse

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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