Chinese investor visas deserve extreme vetting

THE sister of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has been urging wealthy Chinese to buy stakes in real estate through a controversial program that offers USA residency.

Meyer was looking for investors under the U.S. EB-5 visa program, which gives wealthy foreign investors permanent American residency if they invest at least a half million dollars in a U.S. business that creates 10 jobs.

Meyer never mentioned the president's name during the investor event, but Trump's photo was seen in a slide at the conference that detailed the "key decision makers" on the EB-5 program, CNN reports.

Kushner's sister Nicole Meyer promoted a Kushner Companies' development in Jersey City at an event Sunday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Shanghai.

PARK: And they were going to hire around, like, 200 people, 200 full-time employees over the course of two years with the help of EB-5 financing.

The project is being developed by KABR Group and the Kushner Companies.

Over several hours of presentations and PowerPoints, company executives described the advantages of the controversial EB-5 program, which provides big foreign investors with U.S. visas and a path to residence for the cost of just a half-million dollars. At a Sunday presentation in Shanghai, security guards barred all media.

Almost 90 percent of EB-5 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in 2014, when the program reached its quota of 10,000 visas.

"Kushner Companies apologizes if that mention of her brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors", the firm said. 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 to a ballroom full of wealthy Chinese investors in Beijing", report Emily Rauhala and William Wan for the Washington Post.

Richard Painter, formerly an attorney for President George W. Bush, said the sales pitch, which focused on an "investor visa" program and mentioned both Jared Kushner and President Donald Trump, came "very, very close to solicitation of a bribe". The program - known to some as the "golden visa" - has been criticized by some members of Congress for allowing people to essentially buy US citizenship.

The Kushner Companies has apologized for using Jared Kushner's name during an investment promotion event at a Ritz Carlton in Beijing.

Asked why Trump signed a bill allowing the continuation of the investor visa program, a White House spokesman said Trump had little leeway to adjust a spending bill that was largely assembled by the Obama administration, although Trump did seek to shape the measure in other ways, such as money for the border wall. The email noted that Jared Kushner "stepped away from the company in January and has nothing to do with this project".

Skeptics of sharply changing the program have a powerful ally in Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from NY, where EB-5 investment is a major driver in real estate development. The minimum investment requirement is $1 million, unless the project is in a rural area or high-unemployment area.

The visa program is especially popular among rich Chinese desperate to move their assets out of their country amid an economic slowdown. Kushner's lawyer says he has no financial interest in the project that was being pitched in China and that he will recuse himself from matters involving the EB-5 visa program. They were told by organizers that it was a "private event", despite it being publicly advertised.

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