“At the beginning of this administration, the EB-5 program was primitive and under-developed. USCIS [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] had not recruited staff with sufficient expertise to handle the complex commercial transactions under review, did not have a system for consistent-decision making or comprehensive policy guidance, and did not have security and anti-fraud safeguards tailored to the program’s unique vulnerabilities,” Catron told Sputnik on Tuesday.
Catron said that for many years, USCIS had no comprehensive EB-5 policy guidance, meaning that complex cases were decided inconsistently and in some cases incorrectly. She said that a 27-page EB-5 policy memorandum, released in May of 2013, alongside the creation of an entirely new EB-5 program office, staffed by economic and security experts, has brought forth increased order, consistency, and integrity to the program.
Catron said in response to the incident, the USCIS leadership made improving the security and fraud protection in the program a top priority in addition to increasing staffing levels by multiples. This included embedding significant numbers of security and anti-fraud specialists in the program, she added.
The USCIS takes seriously the responsibility to safeguard the responsibility of America’s immigration system, and the many steps they have taken, including expanding security checks, reflect a concerted effort to strengthen national security and the antifraud programs, Catron said.
The mistakes made by government officials were discovered by ABC News investigators after five different whistleblowers from Homeland Security spoke with them about a range of different EB-5 approved visa cases.