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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
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Man Says He Was Played in Visa Scheme

SAN MATEO, Calif. (CN) - A wealthy immigrant hoping to capitalize on U.S. policy of giving permanent legal resident status to people who invest at least $500,000 in commercial enterprises claims to have lost out on that prize and a condo he was promised.

Wei Hu claims in a lawsuit filed in San Mateo Superior Court on Tuesday that Sino-USA Entrepreneur Association, Xianqin Harrison, Jarrod Harrison, and Richard Lee refuse to return the $500,000 he invested with them under the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services EB-5 program. He says the defendants enticed him to invest in their condominium development in Oakland in exchange for help with the legal residency process and a unit in the finished complex.

According to its website, Sino-USA offers a wide scope of services including investment immigration. It touts business assets in excess of $200 billion.

Hu says met with Xianquin Harrison, Sino-USA's executive director, and company agent Richard Lee in March 2015 to give them the $500,000 investment. In exchange, they promised to provide him with immigration services through the EB-5 Immigration Investor Program, the complaint states.

Created in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investments from foreign investors, the program offers investors who invest at least $500,000 in a commercial enterprise the opportunity to apply and obtain legal residency.

Hu signed the contract after being assured he would be granted legal residency and he and his family would be given their own condo after the development was completed, he says.

After providing the identity documents Harrison had requested from him, Hu was then told he had to pay an additional $10,000 to cover lawyers' fees for processing his immigration case as well as $40,000 to cover administration fees, according to the complaint.

But Hu says that six months later, Harrison had yet to provide any proof that the EB-5 application was submitted.

"Defendants have provided no evidence that such an application was completed or submitted, despite repeated requests for such evidence," Hu says in his complaint. "Defendants have also provided no updates or information related to the development project, nor information about the status of plaintiff's investment or the condominium unit that was the subject of plaintiff's investment."

Hu says that in April 2016, after numerous inquiries by Hu and his father about the status of Hu's application, Harrison told the men he was looking at other ways to get Hu a green card since an EB-5 was no longer necessary.

At that point Hu says realized there was no longer a justifiable reason for his investment, and requested a refund of his money in June 2016.

Since that time, Hu says he has made numerous other refund requests without anything other than Harrison's repeated response that he needs more time or he needs to speak with a lawyer.

Summing it up concisely, Hu says in his complaint: "Plaintiff has received no benefit whatsoever from the contract with defendant."

Hu seeks $550,000 for compensatory damages since the contract he entered was not fulfilled.

Additionally, he wants $550,000 for punitive or treble damages since he suffered a high degree of moral turpitude. He is suing for breach of contract, conversion and numerous other claims.

Hu's attorney Eileen Ma said by email that Chinese immigrants like Hu are "often vulnerable to scams and unethical business schemes," and that targeting people like her client needs to be stopped.

"Like so many other community members, Mr. Hu sought much-needed assistance to help him navigate a complicated legal immigration process. Unfortunately, he fell victim to untrustworthy agents who have taken advantage of him, bilked him of several hundred thousand dollars and interrupted his future, perhaps even jeopardized his prospective legal immigration status," Ma said. "We look forward to resolution of this matter in court."

Sino-USA has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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