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.

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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.


Coronavirus Paradigm Shift in the Manufacturing Sectors

Post-Coronavirus Paradigm Shift in the Manufacturing Sector

Sukanya Advisor for EB-5, L1 and E2 Visas

Sukanya is an Associate in our Mumbai India office. She works with our Indian clients on EB-5, L1 and E2 visas coupled with Grenada citizenship.

China is considered the world’s manufacturing hub. However, there are reports that we might see a change in that soon. The coronavirus pandemic has made companies from across the world to move their production units out of China.
Even before the pandemic, the U.S. – China trade war had triggered many U.S. based companies to move their production units out of China. The coronavirus pandemic, therefore, is accelerating the in-flight shift.
In this situation, it is China’s neighbors who could potentially benefit from this. Countries like India, Japan, Bangladesh, Vietnam among others are favorable alternatives, given their geographical location, large pool of skilled manpower, low cost labor, tax policies etc.

Below are some key highlights for each of these countries-
Japan – Government of Japan has announced USD 2.2 billion to help manufacturers to shift production to Japan or other countries. Japan’s supply chain has been disrupted due to coronavirus outbreak. In addition to supporting manufacturers to move to Japan, they are also willing to help them move to other south Asian countries.

United States – China has remained America’s largest supply chain trading partner for almost three decades. After the trade war last year Trump administration had ordered the U.S. companies to immediately start looking for an alternative to China and build more products in the U.S. Now during coronavirus outbreak Larry Kudlow – White House National Economic Council Director – states that U.S. would pay the moving costs to every American company who wishes to leave China.

Bangladesh – Companies are keen on setting up their manufacturing units in Bangladesh as it is world’s second largest readymade garment exporter after China. It is the hub of garment manufacturing industry. It is an attractive option for the companies due to the vast availability of cheap labor, and has duty free access to over 52 countries including the U.S., the European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, etc. Major global brands have their manufacturing units because of the advancement in technology and excellent quality products.

Vietnam – In the U.S. – China trade war, Vietnam has emerged as the biggest winner. For a number of reasons, Vietnam could be the next best option for many production units. Especially due to its proximity to China followed by low cost of labor. Its political stability and infrastructure is an added advantage for manufactures.

Thailand – It is well-positioned as an automobile manufacturing hub, as well as a leader in smart phones parts, electronic and computer components, and agricultural products to name a few. It offers an attractive business environment with stable economy for the investors.

India – While China loses business, India could be in the top list of major manufacturing companies. The introduction of ‘Make in India’ movement by the current government has been seen as a move to give it global recognition.

After the trade war about 200 American companies are looking to move their manufacturing units to India. The World Bank president Jim Yong Kim is of the opinion that those manufactures leaving China could end up moving to India and that may lead India to become a global manufacturing hub.

Tokyo Shoko Research had conducted a survey to find how many companies are looking to shift their production unit out of China. 2,600 companies had participated of which around 962 companies (37%) are willing to shift the production unit.

Tech giants like Google and Microsoft have planned to shift its production units to Vietnam, Thailand and India for manufacturing and producing smart phones, desktops computer, notebook and other devices. This shift is not only seen in the U.S. companies but also amongst European, Japanese and even Chinese companies.