The FBI in Washington has been concerned about the investor visa program and the projects funded by foreign sources since at least March, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.
The bureau wanted details of all of the limited liability companies that invested in the EB-5 visa program. Of particular concern, the FBI official wrote, was Chinese investment in projects, including the building of an FBI facility.
“Let’s just say that we have a significant issue that my higher-ups are really concerned about and this may be addressed way above my pay grade,” an official wrote in one email. The FBI official’s name was redacted in that email.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent the FBI a lengthy letter Tuesday asking for details of its review of the foreign investor visa program and Chinese investment in U.S. infrastructure projects.
The U.S. government has long been concerned about Chinese investment in infrastructure projects.
In September, the Obama administration blocked a Chinese company from owning four wind farm projects in northern Oregon that were near a Navy base used to fly unmanned aircraft and electronic warfare planes on training missions.
In October, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence warned that two leading Chinese technology firms, Huawei Technologies Ltd. and ZTE Corp., posed major security threats to the U.S. Both firms have denied being influenced by the Chinese government.
The most routine users of the EB-5 program are Chinese investors. According to an undated, unclassified State Department report about the program obtained by the AP, the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, processed more investor visas in the 2011 fiscal year than any other consulate or embassy.
The document says “applicants are usually coached and prepped for their interviews, making it difficult to take at face value applicants’ claims” about where their money comes from and whether they hold membership in the Chinese Communist Party. Party membership would make an applicant ineligible for the investor visa.
It is unclear from the inspector general’s email why the investor visa application was denied. Visa requests can be denied for a number of reasons, including circumstances in which an applicant has a criminal background or is considered a threat to national security or public safety.
• The article is based in part on wire service reports.