Selling Visas Grows in Popularity

In upstate New York, one undocumented individual, Moises Velazquez-Jacobo, was recently taken into custody for allegedly selling fake immigration forms, including green cards, to other illegal aliens in the area.

Velazquez-Jacobo was taken into federal custody on March 7, after resisting arrest, which occurred at his residence. Six other illegal residents were also detained. According to the local news source the Watertown Daily Times, Velazquez-Jacobo would take the pictures of illegal immigrants and then create a set of fake documents, including green cards and social security cards. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl G. Eurenius told Watertown Daily that it is unlikely that all of the individuals who used the Velazquez-Jacobo’s services will be tracked down.

“We have no idea who they are or where they are,” Eurenius said.

Velazquez-Jacobo was following a similar policy outline as the federal EB-5 green-card program. In exchange for investments between $500,000 and $1 million, wealthy foreigners can legally cut through the long waiting lines and red tape often associated with the immigration process and earn their U.S. visa. If the foreign individual can prove after two years that his or her investment created at least 10 jobs, he or she can move on to applying for citizenship.

Although the program has been around since 1990, strong criticism from outsiders has caused the federal government to make EB-5 more stringent in its allowances, according to The Daily. EB-5 increased in popularity after the United States hit a deep recession in the late 2000s, with critics often calling the program, “cash for visas.”