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US ups price for investors seeking permanent residency permit

[WASHINGTON] Individuals hoping for an American green card in exchange for making a major US financial investment must now fork over more money under the controversial arrangement, according to a new rule that will be published Wednesday.

Going forward, an investment of US$1.8 million as opposed to US$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 US$500,000 to US$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 programme, as it is called.

Her presentation on the subject raised concern over potential conflicts of interest and set off a media firestorm.

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At the time, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said: "I've long called for an end to the EB-5 programme."

She added: "It says that visas - and eventual US citizenship - are for sale."

Created in 1990, the programme 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 programme was designed to help."

AFP