The ribbon-cutting for the Marriott Marquis convention center hotel was a patriotic affair. A choral rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” opened the June 10 ceremony, which took place against a backdrop of three hulking metal sculptures titled “America,” “Flag,” and “The Birth of the American Flag.”
But as Mayor Vince Gray took the podium to welcome D.C.’s new largest hotel, China was on his mind.
That day, he announced, marked the beginning of direct flights on Air China between D.C. and Beijing—something his office says it’s worked to bring to fruition. “Today is the maiden flight,” he told the assembled crowd. “We will have a flight bringing people from Beijing to our city, and we hope they will stay in the Marriott Marquis!”
It would be fitting, given that foreign investors—half of them from China—contributed a portion of the money to pay for the hotel, earning green cards in the process.
Five million dollars of the financing for the development of the $520 million Marriott Marquis came via a federal visa program called EB-5. Through it, foreigners can trade job-creating investments in American projects for green cards. In other words, they can buy their way into permanent U.S. residency.
The Marriott Marquis
The federal government provides five vehicles for foreign nationals to obtain immigrant visas through their employment. There are visas for star athletes, internationally recognized professors, and multinational executives; for advanced-degree holders and people of extraordinary ability, with a job offer in hand; for workers and professionals with Department of Labor certification; and for certain special workers, like Iraqi and Afghan translators who have worked with the American military.