Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) urged the head of the Homeland Security Department to affirm that no one would receive preferential treatment from the EB-5 investor visa program following comments by the sister of Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the president.
Several news outlets reported over the weekend that Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, mentioned her family connection to the Trump White House during a speech in Beijing to attract investment to a Jersey City real estate development.
According to The New York Times, Meyer told a roomful of potential investors at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel that the project “means a lot to me and my entire family," and noted that Jared Kushner left his position as chief executive of Kushner Companies to work for the Trump administration. An advertisement for the venture alluded to "the star Kushner real estate family." Nepotism is a familiar practice at the crowded intersection of Chinese government and business.
Kushner Companies seeks to fund the project with money from the EB-5 visa program, which offers a path to a green card to immigrants who invest at least $500,000 in a commercial project.
“It is appropriate for the department to clarify and affirm that no foreign investors will receive preferential treatment, that applications will be processed in the order in which they are received — subject to any existing backlog — and that future applications will be subject to the proposed regulations, when approved,” Grassley wrote in an email to Kelly.
The committee chair also encouraged Kelly to “move expeditiously” to approve Obama-era proposed regulations that would raise the program’s minimum investment threshold to $1.35 million, among other reforms.