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“We need to find that happy medium,” he said, adding that he believed the current minimum investment for the program, which remained unchanged since 1990, was “way too low.”

“It is amazing to me that a person with half-a-million dollars would be considered either wealthy or an investor,” he said.

He said the practice of bundling small sums should be replaced by a hunt for “truly wealthy, successful businesspeople” prepared to take active roles in managing their investments.

Mr. Mayorkas was nominated in July as Homeland Security’s deputy secretary, but shortly before his confirmation hearing, details leaked of an investigation by the Homeland Security inspector general into allegations of improper interference by senior CIS officials into the visa-approval process. Despite the ongoing probe, Democrats pushed his nomination through committee Tuesday and it now awaits action on the Senate floor.

This week, The Washington Times reported that Mr. Reid also intervened on behalf of a regional center in Nevada to get visa applications expedited despite security questions.

Though undated, the memo refers to events in 2013. It says concerns about the vulnerability of the EB-5 program to abuse by foreign intelligence services, terrorist networks and technology proliferators surfaced as early as late 2011. Other weak points identified by an interagency federal review of the program last year include the risk of money laundering or outright fraud by investors.