Over the weekend reports emerged of a presentation by Nicole Kushner Meyer, sister of White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, to wealthy Chinese investors. Ms. Meyer was urging Chinese citizens to invest in Kushner companies in order to obtain an EB-5 visa. This is not the first time the Kushner companies have been linked with Chinese investors and EB-5 visas. The EB-5 visa program allows citizens of foreign countries who invest in United States businesses to gain permanent residency in the United States.
Controversy regarding conflicts of interest erupted at the use of Jared Kushner’s name to lure business to Kushner companies. Jared Kushner has attempted to distance and divest himself from any role in his family business since he became a senior advisor to President Trump. However, the actions of Kushner’s sister implied that the Kushner businesses have close ties to the Trump administration. Richard Painter, former White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, stated that Ms. Meyer’s actions were “incredibly stupid and highly inappropriate.” He further added that “they clearly imply that the Kushners are going to make sure you get your visa.”
The tagline for the event was “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.” EB-5 visas are of great interest to wealthy Chinese nationals who seek to take their wealth out of the country. The program is highly unpopular among Chinese authorities because of the potential for some Chinese citizens to use it to move money out of China illegally. Jared Kushner himself has a history with the EB-5 visa program as he raised $50 million from Chinese investors prior to joining the White House.
Further, the EB-5 program has a history of being susceptible to fraud. The typical fraud is an investor investing money in an American business or project that hires fake employees with owners taking money for personal desires. As we’ve noted multiple times, previous EB-5 projects, have ended in failure, lost money, and frustrated green card plans. It remains to be seen if any changes will occur to the EB-5 program under the Trump Administration.
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