A Real Witches’ Brew: Vietnamese Seek to Use Cryptocurrency for EB-5

By David North on April 15, 2023

The EB-5 (immigrant investor) program, already scandal-ridden and recently suspended by Congress for nine months for needed reforms, just took another (self-inflicted) blow.

An EB-5-supporting law firm has filed a federal court case with a witches’ brew of ingredients including advocating these dubious policy positions:

  • Controversial cryptocurrency, such as that involved in the FTX and Silvergate financial collapses, should be used in the EB-5 program by foreign investors;
  • By implication, even borrowed cryptocurrency should count when buying one’s way into U.S. citizenship;
  • Laws of Vietnam seeking to avoid capital flight should be skirted; and
  • While the lawsuit calls for governmental transparency, the reporting of the suit does not provide a name for the case or let us know where it was filed.

Or, you might say, just another day in the shrinking, self-destructive EB-5 program.

As background, after years of scandals, usually involving U.S. citizens seeking to fleece immigrant investors of the same background, Congress paused its authorization of the main part of the program in order to pull together a reform package, which came into effect about 12 months ago. Currently, aliens with no other claim for immigration status than their would-be investments, can, with a stake of at least $800,000 made through USCIS-designated regional centers, secure a family-sized set of temporary green cards, which can blossom into permanent green cards if the money stays invested.

Apparently — and this was news to me — our government used to accept cryptocurrency investments, but has since had second thoughts about such investments.

In the last few days, an American law firm (that we, charitably, will not name) has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit against USCIS seeking to learn more about the (apparent) negative decision on the use of cryptocurrency in the EB-5 program.

Over and above the needless linking of a dubious immigration scheme to a dubious investment scheme, the lawyers have also:

  • Reminded the public that aliens can use borrowed money to buy their way to citizenship by linking the main article to an earlier one on that subject; and
  • Needlessly linked the current article to the Vietnamese community, reminding some Americans that we once were involved in a war in that part of the world.

FOIA lawsuits are rather common — we at CIS often engage in them with DHS — and there is no need to involve any ethnic group in one’s search for USCIS information. But if a law firm is so tone-deaf that it cannot see the problems with enlisting cryptocurrency for its clients’ cause, it may make other mistakes as well.