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Potential investors should be aware of EB-5 scams

There are a variety of visas available for individuals seeking to reside in the United States. The availability is dependent on a variety of factors including one’s education and occupation. For example, individuals from other countries who are willing to invest a certain amount of money may be able to come to the U.S. on an EB-5 visa. Under this program, investors contribute to developments called regional centers, which are based in areas of the country that are in need of economic development. In exchange for the creation of jobs the investor may seek conditional lawful permanent residency, the conditional portion of which, may eventually be removed. When the program works as intended it is mutually beneficial.

Unfortunately, some investors may be being taken advantage of. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, there are currently scams operating in conjunction with the Immigrant Investor Program. In one of these fraudulent operations, money was obtained from investors before the project was determined to be a regional center. Those funds were then used in other ways by the scammers and the visas were not secured.

There are multiple things a potential investor in a regional center can do to make sure the project is legitimate. The first is to properly research any project that is purportedly a regional center that could lead to an EB-5 visa. In addition, it is important to know the warning signs of fraud and keep an eye out for them.

Immigration matters are commonly complex. As a result, most find it beneficial to work with an immigration attorney. Doing so could help individuals avoid these types of situations.

Source: Latin American Herald Tribune, “U.S. SEC Warns of Investment Scams in EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program,” Oct. 1, 2013

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