Going forward, an investment of $1.8 million as opposed to $1 million can earn an interested party the much-coveted permanent residency permit in standard areas, while in rural or high-unemployment areas, the price tag rises from $500,000 to $900,000.
The program came under fire earlier this year when the sister of White House advisor Jared Kushner, who is also the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, encouraged wealthy Chinese investors interested in a property owned by her family’s company to participate in the EB-5 visa program, as it is called.
Her presentation on the subject raised concern over potential conflicts of interest and set off a media firestorm.
At the time, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said: “I’ve long called for an end to the EB-5 program.”
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She added: “It says that visas — and eventual US citizenship — are for sale.”
Created in 1990, the program was meant to stimulate the economy with new jobs and foreign capital.
The Department of Homeland Security said it believes the changes, which will come into effect in November, “will help address inconsistencies between and within states in designating high-unemployment areas.”
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who advocated for the reform, welcomed the measure, which he said cracks down “on a practice that siphons investments away from rural and economically depressed areas that the program was designed to help.”
© Agence France-Presse