Seattle 520 Bridge to Nowhere

China has had a remarkable period of rapid growth since the open door policy from the year 1979. Western world is actively looking forward opportunities in China, and there is large number of people from China eager to discover the new life by moving to a new country. Those who are in upper middle class with good education background and high social statues in China are now considering America, one of their choices to pursue dreams of freedom, and a new way of life. Why do Chinese elites give up everything to start over in an unknown country? A new immigrant Mr. Zhou from Beijing said that he has lost confidence in China: “The widespread air pollution will slump its booming economy. We need clean water, air and safe food.” EB5 project in US act like a bridge to achieve their dream.

Unfortunately, not every bridge could bear the weight of people’s dream. Seattle 520 Bridge has disillusioned all fantasy. “Build a bridge, get a green card for your whole family” advertised by Chinese immigration brokers and Washington Regional Center. The project collected about 90 investors, mostly from China has required $48 million to purchase bonds funding the replacement for the aging State Route 520 floating bridge. Question requested by the USCIS: “Could bonds purchasing really create new jobs for America?” As we know, The EB5 program was set up in 1990 to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. The foreign inventors will be eligible to obtain green card by creating 10 full time jobs in US though Regional Centers’ project or direct business, for instance- running a chain restaurant in US. Job creation is the most important thing which is determinative to green card in the EB5 program.

“It is a fraud, Americans are liars” a Chinese investor complained with anger. “The broker told us spending $500,000 would get US citizenship for the whole family. They did not tell us risks, everything was described perfectly.” There is another investor from this project spoke to us: “We have spent money and time because we want to be legal immigrants. But the broker told us once we have the result of I-526 from USCIS, the funds cannot be withdrawn. No matter it is a good result or bad. It is so unfair to us. Now all of us want to take legal actions but we don’t even know who should accuse: USCIS, developer or Chinese immigration brokers?” Standing the middleman’s role, what Chinese immigration brokers or agents could do when the real risks happen? “The money was transferred to Regional Center’s escrow bank, we never took the money away. Also, investors signed agreements. It has been signed with take their own risk. EB5 project is not only for getting a green card but also a real investment, which means all investors must have considered risk before putting money in the project. We are helping them coordinate with Regional Center, but we cannot guarantee anything.”Said by a well-known immigration agent from Shanghai. “USCIS has been changing their EB5 approval standard constantly, it confused to us” Ms.Yang, a CEO of a relatively small agent from China. “Sometimes investors got I-526 approved successfully on the first phase of the project. But investors got RFE or rejections on the second phase even with same business plan. We strongly suggest investors to tour project in person, not just made a hasty decision” she added. What seems clear are that the collected money from 520 project was bought state bonds, but conditional green card can hardly approved from USCIS, not even mention to be a permanent resident. “We don’t care how much interest from the bonds, we only want green card. If they cannot give us green card, they must pay us money back immediately. ”An investor Mr. Zhou told us his bottom line.

A bridge seems no longer the bridge. No one is able to predict how many other bridges would collapse, since there are 251 Regional Centers approved by USCIS. Investors should be aware of the hidden risk when making the investment perhaps this is a stepping stone to fulfill their American dream.

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