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Kushners use controversial EB-5 visa program to finance their developments

19 Mai 2017

Kushner's sister Nicole Kushner Meyer was in Beijing on Saturday, seeking $150-million (about R2-billion) in investment in a luxury apartment complex project in New Jersey, said U.S. media reports.

Its advertising highlights the controversial EB-5 visa program, which provides a path to a green card to foreign nationals who invest at least half a million dollars and create 10 full-time jobs. The event was open to the public, but reporters from the Washington Post and New York Times were reportedly asked to leave, CNN revealed.

Chinese staff wait for investors at a reception desk on Sunday in Shanghai, China, during an event promoting investment in a Kushner Companies development.

Mr Kushner has said he stepped away from his family's business operations, but government ethics filings show that he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, continue to benefit from their stake in Kushner Companies. And I think, you know, the implications since she was addressing a group of potential investors and immigrants was that, you know, they could make it, too, if they invested with Kushner Companies. The program was created in the 1990s to boost jobs in areas that are rural or have high unemployment. His family's promotional efforts in China come amid widespread criticism of the EB-5 visa program, which has grown popular among wealthy foreigners seeking to move to the US but faces allegations of fraud and misuse.

Kushner Companies distanced itself from the photo Monday, insisting that the image "was part of a presentation by the event's organizers". Some lawmakers have called for an overhaul or abolishment of the program, but it was recently renewed without changes until the end of September.

Meyer noted that if investors put at least $500,000 into the Kushner-family backed project, they could qualify for an EB-5 visa.

But Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, says, "The strong feeling is that they - the Trump family, the Kushner family - see the White House and being in the government as a marketing opportunity".

Meyer was in China to attract funds from Chinese investors through the US government's EB-5 visa program, the New York Times reported. The firm has long raised money for its real estate ventures from the EB-5 program, which awards legal residency in the United States to foreign investors. Rep. Zoe Lofgren from California, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, also said in an interview Sunday it was "pretty sketchy" for Meyer to make her sales pitch amidst uncertainty of the program's continued existence.

"The lower investment level is meant to spur investments in rural and high-unemployment areas".

In return, the investors would qualify for an EB-5 investor visa, a fast track to permanent legal residence in the United States.

"Senator Schumer strongly supports bipartisan legislation that would crack down on fraud, abuse, and improper influence within the EB-5 program", said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer.

For a man who made it into the Oval Office on a promise to close the immigration door to low-priority entrants, and to reduce immigration-related threats to national security, ending EB-5 should be a no-brainer.

Kushners use controversial EB-5 visa program to finance their developments