A top Democratic senator is renewing her call to end a controversial investment visa program amid reports that it was pitched by companies tied to White House adviser Jared Kushner's family.
The program offers foreign nationals permanent residency - commonly known as a green card - in exchange for investments of at least half a million dollars in a USA business that must also create 10 American jobs.
The mention of Jared Kushner, who sold his interest in Kushner Companies to a family trust when Donald Trump became president in January, raised questions about whether the company was trading on Kushner's influence with Trump to enrich his family's business.
A much-criticized visa program that allows foreigners to win fast-track immigration in return for investing $500,000 in USA properties was extended in a bill signed by President Trump just one day before a sister of senior White House adviser Jared Kushner pitched the program to Chinese investors.
The event itself encouraged Chinese investors to do business with Kushner properties with the incentive of coming to the USA on a visa program given to those who spend at least $500,000 in property investment.
"The proposed One Journal Square project will provide $180 million in tax revenue for Jersey City over the next 30 years, more than 4,000 union construction jobs, and direct funding for a memorial plaza and local arts initiatives, among other benefits", a company spokesman toldHousingWire.
About 15% of the $976.4m-project, known as One Journal Square, will be funded through the EB-5 programme, according to Kushner Companies. In a funding measure Trump signed last week to keep the USA government running through the end of September, there is money for additional border security, but not the wall. Journalists were also barred from attending a similar pitch to investors by Meyer on Sunday in Shanghai, according to Reuters.
One speaker at Saturday's event urged would-be investors to "invest early, and you will invest under the old rules", in case US lawmakers change regulations with the visas.
The EB-5 visas have proved particularly popular among wealthy Chinese, who in 2014 accounted for almost 90 percent of the 10,000 of the visas the US approved that year, although its share dropped to about 75 percent last year. "Of course they're going to want to invest". They got to witness Jared Kushner's sister, who was kind of the main event, give her pitch for investing into their company in return for a chance to apply for a visa. The Visa program was created in 1990 for Job creation and capital investments which has however been misused since these were put up for sale.
President Trump has made visa reform a central piece of its promised changes to immigration policy. As the Post noted, she encouraged investors to apply for United States residency through the EB-5 visa program-a controversial initiative that was renewed the day before in federal spending legislation signed into law by President Trump.
Is Kushner the most powerful 36-year-old in the world?
During Meyers' speech, reporters for the Times and the Washington Post were asked to leave after being told it was a "private event", though it had been publicly advertised.
Ivanka Trump's sister-in-law recently visited Beijing and Shanghai to market "investor visas" to wealthy Chinese citizens.
The EB-5 visa is, in theory, a win-win for everyone.
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