Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced her opposition to EB-5 visa program, an immigration program giving foreign nationals green cards for themselves and families if they invest over $500,000 in U.S. businesses that create 10 or more jobs, in an opinion piece written for Roll Call Wednesday.
The program is set to expire in December without intervention from Congress. Many congressional representatives have expressed interest in reforming the program, but Feinstein is the first to suggest the program should be shuttered altogether.
“Simply put, EB-5 sends a terrible message to the millions of immigrants patiently waiting their turn to enter the United States legally to be reunited with their families or for legitimate employment. It says that American citizenship is for sale, and that’s not what our country stands for,” wrote Feinstein.
The popularity of EB-5 has expanded rapidly over the last few years, reaching its 10,000 visa cap for the first time last year since its beginnings in 1990. According to reporting by the San Francisco Gate, many of these visas are predominantly used by investors in countries like China, South Korea and Russia, using the program to secure access to American schooling for their children.
The program has also experienced significant difficulties ensuring that the intended investments in job creation infrastructure are met before issuing visas. A report by the Governmental Accountability Office found that Immigration had significant difficulty verifying that visa recipients were creating the mandated 10 jobs, and were mostly relying on the presumption of “indirect jobs.”
Feinstein then cites visa waitlists for applicants without the resources to invest in U.S. services, noting that visa centers are just now processing family-related applications for adjusted status filed over 23 years ago.
“When the program comes up for renewal in December, Congress should allow the program to die,” Feinstein concludes.