Italy’s Annual Quota for Non-EU Migrant Workers Tops 30,000 in 2020

By Matteo Tisato

Each year the Italian government announces how many working visas will be available under its “quota system”. The government releases a Flow Decree establishing a number of available working visas across two main categories.

For 2020 there will be a total of 30,850 non-European workers who will be able to enter Italy regularly.

The 30,850 visa quota is split as follows:

  1. 12,850 visas are available to non-seasonal subordinate jobs, and self-employers, of which 6,150 working permits are available to those who are already in Italy and apply for the conversion of their Permit of Stay (Permesso di Soggiorno);
  2. 18,000 visas are available to seasonal workers in the transportation, constructions, and tourism fields, of which 4.500 are reserved for those coming from Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, South Korea, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Philippines, Gambia, Ghana, Japan, India, Kosovo, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Moldova, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria,  North Macedonia, Senegal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine. For 2020/2021, three more countries have been included: Bangladesh, Pakistan, and El Salvador. Of this category, a sub quota of 6,000 permits are limited those working in the agricultural field. 100 visas are available for those who resides in Venezuela and have at least one Italian ancestor.

There are many different reasons our clients want to move to the boot-shaped peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea.

  • working
  • establishing residency / desire to live in Italy
  • investment opportunities in the real estate market
  • studying and cultural experiences
  • retirement
  • tax benefits

Of all of these, work is one of the most popular motivations. A good 25% of people who contact us are interested in moving to Italy because of its employment opportunities and fair labour conditions.

We all know Covid-19 has had a catastrophic impact on the employment rate in Europe and worldwide. Even before the pandemic, Italy was still struggling to recover from a deep economic crisis, which hit the youth employment especially badly.

However, over the last 2 years, the government made up a series of reforms to the labour market, also allowing people to retire earlier.

For those foreigners who have an employer available in sponsoring them, the Italian labour market offers excellent rights and public benefits.

Benefits of being employed in the Italian labour market

  • First, each employer is insured under the Italian Social Security legislation;
  • Second, the average working week does not exceed 40 hours and overtime is forbidden when it exceeds 250 hours per year;
  • Third, each employer is entitled to have at least a month (four weeks) of paid annual leave, and 11 public holiday days;
  • Fourth, the parental leave is very well regulated in Italy and both mothers and fathers can take a leave up to six months until the child turns 12;
  • Fifth, in case a contract is terminated, all the employees are entitled to a very well-regulated and extensive severance pay;
  • Sixth, workers are entitled to sick leave with full remuneration (most of the time) and have the right to maintain their job while they are sick.

Contact our Italy Team to discuss in greater detail.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Cyprus Ends Citizenship Program – What are the Alternatives?

Cyprus has announced it is closing its popular citizenship by investment program from next month, so what alternative options are available?

Under the Cyprus program, dual citizenship could be obtained within just six months in exchange for a €2 million investment on the island. Since Cyprus is a European Union member, Cypriot citizenship offered the opportunity to live and work in any one of the 27 EU member states (28 until Brexit).

Maltese Citizenship by Investment

The closure of the Cyprus program leaves Malta as the fastest route to European Union citizenship. The Maltese citizenship program requires a €650,000 donation, a €150,000 investment, as well as a commitment to reside in Malta and meet a threshold cost for the rent or purchase of a home.

EU Residency to Citizenship

The alternative European Union programs are more focused on residency by investment with the opportunity to progress to citizenship after a period of residency has been maintained. Bulgaria offers a fast transition from residency to citizenship, while the UK differs depending upon how much you invest, and for Italy it takes ten years. (More on this below)

Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program

There is a candidate for European Union membership that offers citizenship by investment for those willing to wait an undetermined period of time to become and EU citizen. Montenegro offers a time-limited citizenship by investment program that is running to the end of 2021. The Montenegro program requires a minimum €250,000 investment in Real Estate (more capital is required in economically developed parts of the country) as well as a €100,000 donation to the public coffers. Not only is Montenegro a candidate for EU membership, it is also a member of NATO.

Turkish Citizenship by Investment

Another nearby NATO member, Turkey, also offers an enticing citizenship by investment program. The Turkish program is cheaper than the Montenegro program in that it only requires a €250,000 investment in Real Estate to be maintained for three years or more. Alternatively, Turkish citizenship could be obtained by maintaining €500,000 in deposits with a Turkish bank for three years.

Access to the United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

One of the many advantages of Turkish citizenship is that it offers access to the sought-after United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. This visa allows a person to move to the US with their families for the purpose of running a business. While the primary applicant must run the business, the spouse can apply to work in the United States.

You must hold citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. Check our list to see if your country is on there. Citizens of many countries, including India, China, Vietnam, South Africa, Russia, Nigeria are not eligible for the E-2 visa. Combining an E-2 application with citizenship by investment is relatively straightforward. Click here or contact us to learn more.

Grenada Citizenship by Investment

Another country that offers access to the US E-2 Treaty investor visa is Grenada in the Caribbean. Its citizenship program is even more cost effective than the Turkish program. Investors can choose between making a donation to the government of $150,000 or making an investment in Real Estate starting from $220,000. The Grenada program has fast processing times – it can take less than two months to obtain citizenship. Grenada has a strong passport with visa free access to the UK, the EU and the People’s Republic of China.

Comparison of Citizenship by Investment Programs

United Kingdom Residency by Investment

Back to Europe, and the alternative options are to obtain residency by investment as a pathway to citizenship over the medium term. The United Kingdom, for example, offers residency in exchange for a minimum £2 million donation. Higher investment amounts reduce the amount of time before you can obtain settled status, termed indefinite leave to remain. For £2 million the time period is five years; for £5 million that is reduced to three years; and for anything upward of £10 million it requires just two years before you can apply for settled status. Twelve months after obtaining indefinitely leave to remain, a person can apply for UK citizenship.

UK Investor Visa Options

Italian Residency by Investment

Italy offers something similar to the United Kingdom. Recently, in response to Covid-19, the Italian government reduced the investment requirement for its investor visa. Italian residency by investment can be obtained in one of the four ways listed below. The investor must maintain ten years of residency before they can apply to naturalize as an Italian citizen.

at least 250.000 Euros in an innovative start-up company incorporated in Italy; 

at least 500.000 Euros in equity instruments of companies incorporated and operating in Italy; 

at least 2 million Euros in Government Bonds issued by the Italian Republic

philanthropic donations of at least 1 million Euros, in the field of culture, education, immigration, scientific research, recovery of cultural assets and landscapes

Portugal Residency Permit

Portugal offers a residency permit in exchange for an eligible investment. The permit is granted for a two year period, but can be renewed in two year instalments. After five years, the permit holder can apply for permanent residence or citizenship.

Investment options include, real estate, bank deposits, government bonds, setting up a company, and more. For real estate, the minimum requirement is €350,000 for old houses and €500,000 for newer builds. That amount is reduced in areas of low population density.

Greece Residency Permit

Greece offers residency permits for a cost-effective €250,000 investment in real estate. The permit is granted for five years and can be continuously renewed provided the underlying property ownership is maintained. Lease and timeshare options may also qualify.

United States Investor Visa

The United States EB-5 program offers a Green Card in exchange for a $900,000 investment. The applicant, a spouse, and any children under the age of 21 can be covered by a single investment. A Green Card offers permanent residency in the United States and can subsequently be converted to citizenship, provided residency conditions are met.

The investment must create and sustain ten American jobs and must be made in a Targeted Employment Area (outside of these areas the investment required doubles to $1.8 million.) While you can make and manage the investment yourself, most applicants opt invest with “Regional Centers”.

These organizations aggregate investors into new commercial ventures usually involved in construction. These job-hungry projects help ensure compliance with the requirements of the EB-5 program. While the capital is at risk, careful due diligence of the project and Regional Center will mitigate that risk.

Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list. Other countries like Spain, Ireland, St Kitts & Nevis, and Dominica all offer residency and citizenship by investment programs. The abrupt departure of the Cyprus from the industry does not end the dream of global mobility by investment. The best thing to do is to share your goals and budgets with an immigration attorney who can advise on the best option to suit you, your family, and your business.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Visa Bulletin Analysis

October Visa Bulletin Analysis

By Maxine Philavong

In the first Visa Bulletin of the fiscal year, October’s Visa Bulletin showed little to no movement in the family visa category, while showing movement in the employment-based category. Although this may be disappointment for affected people looking to obtain a family-based visa, this is good news for those looking to obtain an employment-based visa.

The October Visa Bulletin is perhaps the most important visa bulletin of the year. This is the first visa bulletin of the fiscal year, meaning that the State Department released its calculations for the total number of employment-based visas available for fiscal year 2021. The anticipated number of employment-based visas is 261,500, an all-time high. Current demand for visa numbers is well below the estimated annual limit of 261,500, according to the State Department, due in large part the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just as demand for visas are down due to the current pandemic, this month’s bulletin came much later than expected due to COVID-19. Moreover, the pandemic has caused many issues moving forward in all visa categories. For example, the ongoing visa and travel bans have made interviewing and acceptance much more difficult for family-based visa seekers. Similarly, the pandemic is cause for almost 100k individuals seeking family-based visas unable to reserve interviews due to embassy closures.

However, because family-based visa seekers have been paused, employment-based visas have moved forward exponentially. The following is a quick look at movement seen in the October Visa Bulletin:

FAMILY-BASED VISAS:

There was no movement for family-based visas. However, the bulletin provided some anticipated movement in the upcoming bulletins. Potential movement includes:

F-1: Potential forward movement for up to 3 weeks

F-2A: Current

F-2B: Potential forward movement for up to 3 weeks

EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISAS:

Employment-based visa applicants saw incredible movement due to family-based visas being paused.

EB-1: All countries expect for China and India remained current. China and India advanced three months to June 1, 2018.

EB-2: All countries expect for China and India remained current. China advanced six weeks to March 1, 2016, while India advanced two months to September 1, 2009.

EB-3: All countries except India and China were current in October. Cutoff dates for China advanced four and a half months to July 1, 2017, and for India advanced three and a half months to January 15, 2010.

EB-5: For the Non-Regional Center Program, India remained current, along with all other countries except for China and Vietnam. China’s cutoff date remained on August 15, 2015, and Vietnam’s cutoff date remained at August 1, 2017. The Regional Center program was extended from September 30 to December 11, 2020.

There has never been a better time to apply for an employment-based visa, especially the EB-5 visa. Davies & Associates is one of the longest-established EB-5 law firms in the industry and our team regularly contribute to the global media on the subject. We have helped hundreds of families, business owners and entrepreneurs relocate to America and have never had a case rejected on Source of Funds, which is one of the most challenging aspects of an EB-5 application. Our success comes from blending our highly qualified lawyers with an understanding of the culture, law, business practices and banking regulations in each jurisdiction we operate.

Contact D&A for a free consultation to learn more about the EB-5 Visa Program today.


UK, Canada, Australia: the other gateways to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

While Grenada and Turkey understandably dominate the discussion around the E-2 Visa, other countries also offer a potential pathway to this desirable visa category.

To qualify for the sought-after E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, you must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country. You can find out if your country holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States by checking this list. If your country is not on the list, you would first need to become a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country to qualify.

It sounds complicated, but in reality it can be quite straightforward. At Davies & Associates we have a lot of experience with helping clients through a two-stage process of becoming a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country then applying for the E-2 visa.

Most of our clients have opted for Grenadian or Turkish Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs for the simple reason that these countries offer the fastest and most cost-effective routes to citizenship.

Indeed, you could even be living in the US on an E-2 visa within just nine month because processing times for both the CBI programmes and the E-2 visa are very fast. (Covid notwithstanding).

So if it is speed and price you are looking for, then please contact our team to discuss the Grenada and Turkey options. (It should be noted here that both Grenada and Turkey both offer fantastic commercial, educational, and other benefits in their own right. This has been the subject of several other blogs in this feed. Please contact us to discuss this in greater detail).

But for some of our clients, other factors are at play in influencing their motivations, this includes family, education or business interests.

Take the United Kingdom for example. The UK is the oldest E-2 treaty country in the world. In fact, the Treaty dates back over two hundred (200) years. Anyone who becomes an UK citizen is then eligible to apply for the United States E-2 Treaty Visa.

The UK offers an investor visa program which is almost ten times as expensive as citizenship through real-estate investment in Grenada, and eight times as much as a similar type of investment in Turkey.

The United Kingdom also has a much longer pathway to citizenship. A person can claim indefinite leave to remain in the UK after five years and citizenship after six. (Although the time it takes to become a citizen can be reduced if you invest more.)

Despite this, some of our clients prefer the UK route because it makes sense based upon their personal interests and circumstances.

The UK investor visa example is useful for drawing a direct comparison with the Grenada and Turkey programs. But there are other ways to become a UK citizen.

For example, there are British visa categories that encourage start-ups or other types of businesses than can provide a route to citizenship. Starting a business in the UK can be a good springboard for an E-2 business in the United States (or you might wish to consider a new-office L-1 visa instead).

Or there are family-based immigration options. This is one of the more popular routes for our clients. Especially our Indian clients. And this is not limited to the United Kingdom. We have seen clients become citizens of Canada and Australia and then apply for an E-2 visa.

The best thing to do is to check out the list of E-2 treaty countries. If your country is on there, our team can discuss the E-2 process with you directly. If your country is not listed – have a look through the countries that are on there. Determine if you have any connections or interests in any of these countries, and then discuss with our team about whether these are viable options.

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows a person to move to the United States with their family for the purpose of owning and operating a qualifying business. It has relatively low investment requirements, does not create a tax liability on earnings outside the US, and it can be renewed indefinitely. A spouse can apply for work authorization outside of the E-2 business, franchise businesses are eligible, and if you don’t have a business plan in mind, we can help.

Contact us to discuss your personal interests and circumstances.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme

Top 4 reasons to choose the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme

By Maxine Philavong

Grenada: a beautiful island, tiny island in the Caribbean. Filled with white sandy beaches, lush green vegetation and buzzing coral reefs, many miss out its numerous advantages due to its small size. But those who are looking for investment and citizenship opportunity should not overlook the “Island of Spice.” Indeed, Grenada is home to the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program, a government sponsored program that provides rapid access to the United States E-2 Investor Treaty.

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows a person to move to the United States with their spouse and dependent children for the purposes of owning and operating a business. Only citizens from certain countries are eligible for the visa.

Grenada is the only Caribbean country which holds the coveted E-2 visa treaty with the US, allowing citizens to apply for a non-immigrant visa and reside there. This is an incredible opportunity as many countries such as China, Russia, India and countries of the Gulf region do not have an E-2 treaty with the US, you can obtain your citizenship of Grenada first then apply for USA E2 Visa.

Grenada Citizenship itself provides many benefits in its own right, some even calling Grenada citizenship the “golden visa.” This includes no residency requirements, no tax on worldwide income, as well as citizenship of a politically and economically stable country. The Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program is just the icing on the cake when it comes to the island’s many advantages.

Grenada’s citizenship by investment program is one of the most cost effective in the world. Here are our top 4 reasons why clients might be interested in choosing the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program:

  1. Fast Processing Times

Processing times for the Grenada CBI programme are extremely fast. It usually takes less than three months and there’s no requirement to visit. And, if you want to then obtain an E-2 visa, the timings are also favorable. The E-2 visa can take as little as six months. This means that you could be holding Grenadian citizenship and living in the US within just nine months.

  • Lower Capital Investment

The Grenada Citizenship by Investment cost is one of the most effective in the world. Investors have two main options: a $150,000 donation to Grenada’s National Transformation Fund or an investment in real estate that starts from $220,000. Through our strong presence on the island, D&A is able to help our clients navigate the investment opportunities. Upon request, our senior staff will visit the island with clients and introduce them to key stakeholders including members of government, as well as investment fund managers and real estate developers.

  • Worldwide income is not taxed

Grenada does not tax income outside the country. This means earnings you make from business interests or property outside Grenada are not likely to be included. And, if it comes to the E-2 visa, you would not be taxed on worldwide income by the US either. The E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa. US permanent residents / Green Card holders are taxed on worldwide income. The D&A team includes tax attorneys who can advise you. D&A has forged close relationships with all the stakeholders in Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme and have been successful in helping people from around the world achieve citizenship of this forward-looking country.

  • Keep your existing citizenship

Grenada permits dual citizenship, meaning that you do not necessarily need to give up your existing citizenship when you acquire Grenadian citizenship. It all depends upon the rules of the other country or countries. India, for example, does not allow dual citizenship. It does, however, allow you to hold Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status. This offers similar benefits to citizenship with some restrictions, e.g. on the rights to own land or run for political office.

Contact D&A today to learn more about the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme

The Grenada Citizenship by Investment programme requirements are strict but simple. Applicants must have a clean criminal record and be able to verify their source of funds. With D&A’s support, the whole process can run fast and smoothly. A well-prepared application combined with the efficiency of the Grenadian authorities, means that processing time takes an average of just two months.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


September Visa Bulletin Analysis

By Maxine Philavong

In its last visa bulletin of the fiscal year, USCIS announced little movement amongst immigration work and family visas from its previous August bulletin.

As fiscal year 2020 comes to an end on September 30, it was expected that the September Visa Bulletin would show not much movement form the previous August bulletin. While this prediction was true, this was to be expected at the end of any fiscal year. At the end of each fiscal year, there are usually not as many visas available as there would be at the beginning of the fiscal year. This year, the agency reports that the fiscal year 2020 Worldwide Employment-based preference limit is 156,253 immigrant visas. This number has nearly been reached.

Although there was not much movement in the most recent bulletin, applications should not be discouraged. More movement is expected to come from the October Visa Bulletin, as it will be the first Visa Bulletin of the 2021 fiscal year. Applicants should keep an eye out for the October Visa Bulletin, which has not been released at the time of writing this article.

The dates listed for employment-based visas are as follows:

For EB-1, all countries expect China and India remained current in September. China and India advanced three weeks to March 1, 2018.

For EB-2and EB-3, just as they did for EB-1, all countries remained current with exception to China and India. China remained at Jan. 15, 2016, while Indian remained July 8, 2009 for EB-2 visas. For EB-3, China stayed at Feb. 15, 2017 and India remained at Oct. 1, 2009.

For EB-5, India and all other countries remained current, with exception to China and Vietnam.  China’s cutoff date will advance by one week to August 15, 2015, while Vietnam’s cutoff date will advance by more than one week to August 1, 2017.

The USCIS only indicated movement forward for employment-based visas in China, where EB-1 dates moved up three weeks and EB-5 dates moved up one week.

In the most recent Visa Bulletin and previous years, EB-5 has steadily had the most countries current in respect to other visa types.

At Davies and Associates, we’ve helped hundreds of families gain entry to the United States through the EB-5 program. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program offers a direct route to a US Green Card. The minimum investment requirement is $900,000 and other conditions, such as job creation, apply. The EB-5 Visa is exempted from President Trump’s current “immigration ban”.

Dates for family-sponsored visas are as follows:

For F-1, all countries including China and India have moved up one month to Sep. 15, 2014, except for Mexico and the Philippines. Mexico advanced two weeks to Jan. 8, 1998, and the Philippines advanced three months to Dec. 15, 2011.

For F-2A, all countries are current.

For F-3, all countries expect for Mexico and the Philippines moved up two weeks to June 15, 2008. Mexico moved one week to Aug. 01, 1996 and the Philippines moved three months to Feb. 15, 2002.

For F-4, all countries expect for India, Mexico and the Philippines moved two weeks to Sep. 22, 2006. India moved two weeks to March 8, 2005, Mexico one week to June 22, 1998 and the Philippines moved four months to Jan. 1, 2002.

USCIS Approval Slowdown

At the end of July, USCIS announced that they would furlough 13,000 of their employees at the end of August if Congress did not allot $1.5 billion of funding. If they had gone through with the furlough, applicants would have expected longer wait times than originally anticipated. Meaning, applicants would have been more movement backwards than their original date. After discussion, Congress has allotted the needed funding and USCIS has cancelled their plans to furlough their employees. Applicants should not expect the longer than usual wait periods, however, Davies and Associates will continue to update as USCIS announces next steps.

Contact Us to discuss your case.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Traveling to the US During COVID-19: Consular Applications & Interview Update

By David Cantor Global Director of Client Relations

It is notably a difficult time for anyone needing to travel to the United States. Whether it is for purposes of business, family or leisure – travel restrictions are still in effect for the United States through December 31, 2020 as a result of the Presidential Proclamation.

In recent months, various US Embassies and Consulates have issued formal reports on the commencement of adjudicating select visa-applications, conducting interviews and granted travel permission to those who fall within the National Interest Exemption.

The National Interest Exemption (NIE), effectively permits individuals from the UK and Schengen Region to travel to the United States – the most common applicants being Students (F1 and M1 visa holders), Researchers (J1 Visa), Investors (E2) and those who need to attend to urgent, temporary, business matters (B1 or ESTA).

In order to determine whether you qualify for the National Interest Exemption it is necessary to submit a request to the respective US Consulate.

Navigating these requirements can prove challenging, since there is no uniform policy for the re-opening of US Consulates. For instance, the US Consulate in Rome is now welcoming E-2 Treaty Investor Visa applications, while the US Embassy in London does not expressly mention this on the State Department website.

The same goes for other US Consulates throughout the Schengen Region, and we suggest you further consult an attorney to determine visa-processing viability and NIE procedures through the respective Consulate.

What remains clear, is that waiting periods and additional processing delays are likely accumulating. For example, the United States Embassy in London was previously adjudicating E-2 Investor Visas within a 30-45 day window – while, cases filed in March and April remain pending and the earliest interviews that are being granted is August 2021.

That said, for qualified applicants you are generally able to make expedited requests and obtain Consular appointments in a much shorter period of time. However, you still need to fully-understand the processing requirements for the National Interest Exemption, as it varies from Consulate to Consulate. 

The global response to Covid-19 is unprecedented. The United States has imposed restrictions on visits from a swathe of countries and regions in an attempt to limit the outbreak. Nevertheless, if you are considering a US visa application, we recommend starting the process. It takes time to prepare and L-1 and and E-2 visa application, so this uncertain time can still be used effectively.

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows a person to move to the United States with their family for the purpose of own and operating a business. Spouses are eligible to apply for work authorization outside the E-2 business. Applicants must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country. Click here to find out if your country is on the list.

If your country is not on the list, it is necessary to first become a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country. Davies & Associates is able to package together citizenship by investment (CBI) of Grenada or Turkey with an E-2 visa application. Find out more about the process here.

The L-1 Visa allows for the transfer of a manager or executive from the overseas branch to the US branch of the same company. This visa can also be used as part of setting up a new US presence. Davies & Associates can help you set up the US office before transferring an employee there to manage that business.

The Schengen area refers to 26 European countries that have abolished their internal borders. This includes much of the European Union excluding the United Kingdom, Ireland, and recent joiners. It also includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway.

Contact Us to discuss your case.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Visa Bulletin Analysis

United States Announces Plans to Expand Collection of Biometric Data from Visa Applicants

By Maxine Philavong

On Sept. 1, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced plans to significantly expand its collection of personal information from immigrants seeking a U.S. visa by requesting more biometric data and DNA to verify family relationships during the immigration process.

The proposal, which has not officially been released by the DHS, allows for authoritative changes to the department’s biometric data and DNA collection.

USCIS currently requires biometrics from anyone over the age of 14 who applies for certain immigration benefits, mostly for those with applications involving a background check. These biometrics are in the form of photographs, fingerprints and signatures.

What May Change?

Although biometric data and DNA collection is not new for the immigration process in the U.S., DHS stated that it would release a proposal detailing their new biometric data use protocols and expansion to department authorities. Expansions include technologies ranging from voiceprints or iris scans, in addition to technologies the department is still developing.

According to DHS, the proposal will standardize the definition of biometrics for the department’s components, “eliminating any ambiguity surrounding the department’s use of biometrics.” By establishing a standardization, the department will set “clear standards for how and why they collect and use this information.”

Who May Be Affected?

The proposed policy would authorize the collection of biometrics for anyone who is seeking a visa or citizenship as well as their spouses. It would also eliminate the existing age limit on biometrics and start requiring children under the age of 14 to provide biometric information. Further, the policy would authorize the collection of DNA to verify certain family relationships. The department claimed the results of collected biometrics will be stored in immigrations’ official records, but that raw DNA will not be kept.

In some cases, USCIS will request biometric information from immigrants with work permits or green card at any point until they become a U.S. citizen. In some cases, the department would have authority to collect U.S. citizens’ DNA.

Why the Change?

According to DHS, the move protects against those who may misrepresent themselves as a biological family unit. “By using DNA or DNA tests to establish bona fide genetic relationship between adults and minors in DHS custody,” the department said in its announcement, “DHS can better protect the well-being of children.”

Ken Cuccinelli, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security, said using technology to verify the identity of an individual is “responsibly governing.”

“Leveraging readily available technology to verify the identity of an individual we are screening is responsible governing,” Cuccinelli said in the statement. “The collection of biometric information also guards against identity theft and thwarts fraudsters who are not who they claim to be.”

Contact Us to discuss your case.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Tax Incentives for Investing and Renting Residential Properties in Italy

By Matteo Tisato

The lure of Italy is undeniable. Stunning landscapes, historic cities, culture, design, culinary tradition. Before Covid-19 hit Italy so badly in early 2020, Rome was the country’s most popular destination with almost 27 million of visitors every year, or 6.4 percent of the total, followed by Milan and Venice (both 2.8 percent), and Florence (2.4 percent).

However, in the recent years, Italy has become an excellent place attracting not only tourists but international investors as well, who are finding always more opportunities and great deals even on tax regimes.

Today we dig into the international real estate business and want to share something that most potential investors in the real estate market do not know: A 10% flat rate for incomes coming from renting out residential properties. 

A 10% flat rate for incomes coming from renting out residential properties. 

If in most cases a rate of 21% is applied to these incomes, for lease contracts that meet certain requirements it is possible to qualify for a 10% flat fee, which is certainly more convenient for the investors/owners. Here are the main criteria to qualify for this special taxation regime:

  • Firstly, the residential lease must be in the form of 3 plus 2 years, or Interim contracts (up to 18 months) or student contracts (up to 36 months).
  • Secondly, the 10% flat rate applies only to leases for which the maximum amount is not freely established by the parties but is determined in accordance with agreements made by the local authorities and the most representative tenant organizations.
  • Thirdly, the 10% flat rate applies exclusively to homes located in specific areas, including the biggest cities such as Bari, Bologna, Catania, Florence, Genova, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Turin, and Venice. Buying a property in these cities may also include further reductions on IMU, which is the Italian property tax.

International investors are always more interested in investing in the Italian real estate by taking advantage of the above tax regime. In addition, house expenses are usually paid by the tenant, and these include water-sewer taxes, condominium taxes, gas, electricity, Internet/Wifi, and Tv/cable tax.

In addition to reduced rental taxes, Italy offers a range of tax benefits to attract foreign workers and retirees. This includes a generous time-limited reduction on income tax for workers who move their tax residency to Italy. As well as a 7% flat tax on overseas pensions for retirees who switch their tax residency to Italy. Conditions apply.

Italy also attracts high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs) through a €100,000 flat tax for up to 15 years. This has proved popular with 784 people taking up this offer over the past three years. The majority of HNWI applicants (10%) are from the United Kingdom, where Brexit uncertainty coupled with Italy’s generous tax provisions, have spurred people to act.

For anyone interested in moving to Italy, there are a range of options available. Including the investor visa – for which the Italian government has just reduced the investment amounts; the elective residency visa – for which you need to prove annual stable income in excess of €32,000; the European Blue Card – for highly-skilled individuals; and naturalization by proving Italian ancestry.

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This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Dubai Introduces New Visa Targeting Retirees

Dubai has long been a place for ambitious, younger people seeking exciting job opportunities. Now, it is also set to become the place for older people seeking the good life as well. The government of the emirate has introduced a new type of visa, allowing expats to retire in there for the first time.

To qualify for the retiree visa, you must be over the age of 55, and also meet the financial requirements. This includes having a monthly income in excess of 20,000 dirhams ($5,400) and have 1 million dirhams in cash savings ($275,000). You are also required to purchase a property in Dubai worth more than 2 million dirhams ($545,000).

Dubai is a popular location because of its warm climate, excellent internal and international transport links, good food options, and recreational activities.

The program will reward expats who have lived and worked in Dubai, but faced having to return to their home countries as they reach retirement age.

It will also attract people seeking to retire from colder climates like the United Kingdom, where Brexit has made the dream of moving to Mediterranean countries like Spain, Portugal, France and Italy, a little more complicated.

Retirees are required to take out health insurance as a precondition for moving. Dubai’s tourist board argues that the emirate has one of the best health systems in the world.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.