Jared Kushner's sister puts EB-5 immigrant visa program back in spotlight

Bianna Golodryga
Yahoo News and Finance Anchor

By Alexandra Zaslow

A decades old visa program is drawing fresh scrutiny, thanks to Jared Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer.

Kushner Meyer recently pitched the program and her brother’s influence in Washington to a group of Chinese investors.

The pitch? Invest in a Kushner property and legally be allowed to stay in the U.S.

Kushner Companies has since apologized for using Jared’s name, but it’s raised new questions about what’s known as the EB-5 or “golden visa” program.

The EB-5 was created by Congress in 1990 to promote job creation. In short, it’s a way for wealthy foreign investors to fast track legal permanent residency or green cards for themselves and their families.

This is done by either investing at least $1 million in a new American business or at least half a million dollars in a new business located in a high unemployment or rural area. The investor needs to show it will create at least 10 full-time U.S. jobs for at least 2 years.

The program grew in popularity after the 2008 financial crisis, but it also grew in controversy after a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme was uncovered. It was linked to a Vermont ski resort and millions of dollars in investments made in California construction projects that were never built.

These issues have led to bipartisan calls to end the program, but EB-5 was just extended by President Trump until at least September as part of the government spending bill.

In 2016 alone, around 7,600 EB-5 applications were approved, equaling $3.8 billion in investments, mostly from China.

It’s not all bad news for the program though. The developers of the Brooklyn Navy Yard called it a “gift from the gods” after it brought in $600 million in investments to develop New York City’s Hudson Yards.