Organizers barred journalists on Sunday from a publicly advertised event in Shanghai that offered Chinese investors the chance to get USA immigrant visas if they put money in a real estate project linked to the family of President Donald Trump's son-in-law.
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.
She urged wealthy Chinese to buy stakes through the EB-5 visa program that offers U.S. residency in exchange for at least $500,000 investment in a USA business that must also create at least 10 American jobs.
A similar meeting was held in Shanghai on Sunday. This is not a government visa-selling program.
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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 fact that she is the sister to the top adviser to the president makes it even worse", Lofgren said. Part of the deal's appeal, per brochures distributed to potential investors, regarding possible immigration to the United States: "Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States".
The sister of White House aide Jared Kushner leveraged her brother's name in a sales pitch to Chinese investors, on behalf of the family's real estate venture. It said the One Journal Square project would provide millions in tax revenue and bring in thousands of construction jobs to New Jersey. Bloomberg reported past year that Kusher Companies raised $50 million for the Jersey City project from the controversial EB-5 program.
"As previously stated, he will recuse from particular matters concerning the EB-5 visa program", the statement said.
Representatives of Chinese government-approved immigration agency QWOS, which hosted the investment drive, pointedly dropped the name of Trump's daughter Ivanka, who is Jared Kushner's wife and popular in China.
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The pitch events are the latest example of potential conflicts of interest involving China and the Trump administration. "Meyer to a ballroom full of wealthy Chinese investors in Beijing", report Emily Rauhala and William Wan for the Washington Post.
The EB-5 programme was created in 1990 to help stimulate the United States economy through job creation and capital investment from foreign nationals, but detractors say it puts citizenship up for sale.
Though the foreign investor immigration program has become a source for cheap real estate financing for projects like the Kushner family's, questions about its fairness and national security implications have made it a political briar patch for years.
Watchdogs and ethics experts yesterday criticised the Beijing event as an attempt to cash in on Kushner's newfound proximity to power, it said. Some Chinese refer to the residency authorization as a "golden visa".
Kushner Companies said in a statement that Meyer was trying to make clear that her brother had separated himself from the company and the project.
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