The sister of President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, highlighted her powerful brother as she pitched financing the family firm's real estate project in New Jersey to Chinese investors.
The programme offers foreign nationals permanent residency - commonly known as a green card - in exchange for investments of at least half a million dollars in a USA business that must also create 10 American jobs.
Nicole Kushner Meyer used her brother's name while promoting an investment-for-visas scheme in Beijing and Shanghai.
In exchange for their investment, investors receive a two-year visa that comes with a likelihood of subsequently receiving permanent status.
Nichole Kushner Meyer told more than 100 people at a Beijing hotel Saturday "that the $976 million project - twin 66-story towers with almost 1,500 apartments - 'means a lot to me and my entire family, '" reports Ken Bredemeier for Voice of America. Kushner has divested himself of his direct stake in some Kushner Cos. projects, including one known to be related to the project being sold in Beijing, but retains a major financial interest in "dozens" of the organization's other holdings.
The EB-5 visa program, which wealthy Chinese sometimes call the "golden visa" program, brings billions of dollars into the USA for major projects, but there have also been several fraud cases, reports the New York Times. Similar events will be held at the InterContinental in Shenzhen on May 13 and the Four Seasons in Guangzhou on May 14.
Almost 90 per cent of EB-5 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in 2014, when the programme reached its quota of 10,000 visas.More news: US laptop ban expected to be expanded in Europe
But the most problematic aspect of this business pitch is the potential conflict of interest that it poses for Kushner, who now serves as a senior advisor to President Trump.
While some US Congress members have been calling for changes to, or full expiration of, the EB-5 programme for several years, legislation signed by Trump last week keeps the programme intact until September 30. The event was open to the public, but reporters from the Washington Post and New York Times were reportedly asked to leave, CNN revealed.
The events are jointly organised by Kushner Companies, which Jared Kushner was associated with until he joined the United States administration this year, and mainland migration agency - Qiaowai, the report said. The program - known to some as the "golden visa" - has been criticized by some members of Congress for allowing people to essentially buy US citizenship.
Jared Kushner headed his family's company before going to work for his father-in-law and putting his shares in a trust.
If the Trump administration sees it through, lawmakers would have an opportunity to see the effects before taking any further legislative action. The program was created in the 1990s to boost jobs in areas that are rural or have high unemployment. Meyer said the project "means a lot to me and my entire family" and specifically mentioned her brother, the son-in-law of President Donald Trump.
"Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States", a Kushner Companies brochure reportedly advertised at an event hosted by the Chinese company Qiaowai, The Washington Post reported.
Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have a bill to end the EB-5 program once and for all. The next day, Nicole Meyer stood in a ballroom in Beijing and encouraged Chinese investors to put money into a troubled New Jersey luxury apartment complex in exchange for the chance to get one of those coveted visas.