Visa program touted by Kushners has fraught political history

Trump Slide

Revelations that the sister of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, promoted a program offering a path to USA citizenship to Chinese backers in a Kushner family project bring new scrutiny to a foreign investor visa program.

This offers foreigners permanent residency - commonly known as a green card - in exchange for investment of at least half a million dollars in a U.S. business that must also create 10 American jobs.

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

"You would think if they are going to take part in a marketing event for one of their properties, that they would want to see the PowerPoint", he said.

"Ms Meyer wanted to make clear that her brother had stepped away from the company in January and has nothing to do with this project", said Risa Heller, a Kushner Companies spokeswoman. In crowded urban zones, developers have been found to gerrymander projects to allow them to offer the lower investment amount.

On Friday, President Donald Trump extended the controversial EB-5 program that allows visas to be fast-tracked in exchange for investment in US properties.

A similar meeting was held in Shanghai on Sunday.

But Trump, who has made cracking down on immigration a cornerstone of his presidency, signed a bill extending the EB-5 visa program the day before Meyer's presentation. 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.

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Jared Kushner, 36, is senior adviser and son-in-law of US President Donald Trump.

Some US lawmakers have called for changing or abolishing the EB-5 programme, but the scheme was recently renewed by Congress until september 30.

According to the report, Meyer talked about how family values had shaped Kushner Companies and spoke about her grandparents, who survived the Holocaust. Part of the presentation was spent telling those in attendance that rules surrounding said visa - which offers a fast track to US citizenship - could be changing soon.

Blake Roberts, an attorney at the law firm of WilmerHale, which is Kushner's personal counsel, said Kushner has no involvement in the operation of Kushner Companies. The company, which included mention of Mr. Kushner and a large photo of his father-in-law at the event, has apologized for any impression of influence trading that might have been created by its presentation.

The minimum required investment is typically $1 million, but a special rule allows the minimum to drop to $500,000 if a project includes an economically area.

"Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States", reads the tag line on a brochure for an investment event.

This prospective luxury apartment building is One Journal Square (and thus near to a commuter rail station leading to both Wall Street and mid-town Manhattan) and is not to be confused with Trump Bay Street, an earlier Jersey City Kushner development that used the Trump name under a licensing agreement.

But a connection pitched in China over the weekend - involving ties between President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and a real-estate project - has prompted ethics experts to raise objections, and some lawmakers to call for change.

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