Like with a lot of things happening in the Trump administration, the claim isn’t as far-fetched as you might think…
Since Donald Trump took office earlier this year, there have been questions regarding his business ties and how it could potentially be in conflict with his presidency. Of course, this idea extended to his family as well, considering they also have multiple investments around the world that could come in conflict with the Trump administration.
In fact, this weekend, Jared Kushner’s family – President Trump’s son-in-law and a Trump administration senior advisor – had held an event in Beijing courting Chinese investors to put money into a New Jersey luxury apartment complex.
As you can see from the above video, the Kushner family trying to get foreign investors to put money into a luxury apartment complex isn’t necessarily news worthy. However, telling Chinese investors that they would get a US visa in exchange for a $500,000 investment in the project, very much is! Yet even for the Trump administration, the idea of openly selling US visas to the highest foreign bidder is stuff of conspiracy theorists and bad espionage novels.
So is there any truth behind the statement that Trump associates are selling US visas to wealthy Chinese investors? Let’s take a look to see if it’s True, False, or “Tralse!”
Just the Facts
Based on reports from The Washington Post, Nicole Kushner Meyer (Jared Kushner’s sister) and various pamphlets from the event explicitly stated, “invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.” But are they even able to make such a lofty promise? Well… sort of. What the Kushner family is referring to is known as the EB-5 visa program (or aka investor visas).
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program is a US visa program that gives eligible foreign investors a chance to obtain US visas, that have the potential towards a path to permanent residency. Usually, for a foreign investor to obtain an EB-5 visa, they have to invest at least $1 million on a US commercial enterprise that creates at least 10 full-time jobs. The basis of the EB-5 visa program is to encourage economic growth through the influx of foreign investment in the US.
So how is the Kushner Family able to promise a EB-5 visa for just a $500,000 investment? Within the EB-5 visa program, there is a clause that allows foreign investors to only invest $500,000 by doing business in Target Employment Areas (TEAs). These areas are classified to be either high unemployment or rural areas under the EB-5 visa program. So the assumption here is that the New Jersey luxury apartment complex that the Kushner family wants to build, is located in a TEA.
Now, while both President Trump and Jared Kushner have no holdings in this particular project, it’s important to note that businesses have benefited greatly from EB-5 visas in the past. For many foreigners, the ED-5 visa is known as a “golden visa”, making it the quickest way for wealthy outside investors to get a path to citizenship. It’s also been a tool that construction firms have used to entice foreign businesses to invest in expensive projects. Both the Trump and Kushner businesses are no stranger to using the promise of ED-5 visas as an incentive to woo foreign investors in their past projects!
Considering the event, at Beijing, specifically tried to tie the Trump presidency to ED-5 visas, and the entire speech revolved around an investment opportunity in regards to the Kushner family’s luxury apartment complex; it’s hard not to see the connection here. Granted, both President Trump and Kushner don’t have direct ties to this particular apartment complex, but both individuals have enough tentative ties to their former businesses, that a statement like “Trump officials selling visas to wealthy Chinese investors through construction opportunities” can’t be completely ruled out. Now add to that, late last week, President Trump had signed legislation extending the EB-5 visa program, specifically the TEA provision that we talked about earlier, and the whole situation gets that much more complicated!
We’re not saying Trump administration officials are handing out US visas directly to the highest bidder, but considering the connection both President Trump and Kushner still have to their businesses… the earlier statement can’t be looked at as completely “False” either.
(Photo Credits: Pixabay.com)