US Travel Ban to be Lifted on November 8th

President Biden has announced the United States will reopen to all vaccinated travellers who can produce a negative test from November 8, ending a twenty-month ban on most visitors from a range of countries worldwide.

Under the Covid-19 travel ban, most people who had been in the Europe, the UK, China, India, South Africa and Brazil in the past 14 days were prohibited from traveling to the United States. The lifting of the ban means anyone can enter the United States provided they are fully vaccinated and can produce a negative test.

Many of our clients have put their US plans on hold until they can be physically present in the United States. For example, some of our E-2 Visa clients have expressed an interest in visiting the US to search for businesses before commencing their application. Similarly, some EB-5 Visa applicants have wanted to visit the US to view a Regional Center project, but changes to the program (investment thresholds and reauthorization) have played a greater role in decision making than Covid-19.

Despite the imminent lifting of the travel ban, Covid-19 continues to have an impact on US immigration. It has caused a slow down in processing at both the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and at US embassies and consulates worldwide. Some embassies are back to near-normal services, while others remain closed. Either way there is a backlog of applications to process and clients are advised to act soon to position themselves in the line.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, which allows people to invest in and actively run a business in the United States has remained open to applicants throughout the pandemic. At a time when President Trump closed most other categories, the E-2 remained open to new applicants. This visa is governed by treaties with sovereign governments and is less exposed to political changes in Washington. The country in which you hold citizenship must hold a relevant treaty for you to be eligible. Click here to find out if your country holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States. If it does not, you first have to obtain citizenship of an E-2 country – see Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Program – before you can apply for the E-2 Visa.

E-2 Visa Processing only involves your local embassy and does not involve the USCIS. In normal times, processing times are very quick, which means the whole Grenada + E2 Visa process could take nine months on average. Covid has increased that time, but it is still relatively quick (depending upon the impact of Covid on your local embassy).

L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa

The L-1 Visa is also open to new applicants after it was temporarily suspended by President Trump because of Covid. The lingering influence of Covid-19 has continued to impact processing times. Unlike the E-2 Visa, the L-1 visa is open to people of all nationalities. You can use this visa to move staff from an overseas office to the US office of the same company, and you can also set up a new US office of your foreign business and move yourself to the US to manage its growth. See new-office L-1 Visa.

EB-5 Investor Visa

The EB-5 Investor Visa has also been open to applications throughout much of the Covid-19 pandemic – President Trump deliberately exempted this revenue-raising, job-creating visa from his immigration ban last year. A federal judge reduce the investment threshold back to $500,000 in June causing a spike in demand. While the Direct EB-5 pathway remains open, the Regional Center pathway is currently on hold pending reauthorization in the United States Congress. If the EB-5 program reopens, it is anticipated that demand could be high, so some clients are already working on their source of funds to position themselves at the front of the line when things reopen.

These visa categories represent just some of the immigration solutions our firm can support clients with. While processing times have slowed down during Covid-19 and some visa categories were temporarily suspended, commerce always finds a way. Business owners, investors and entrepreneurs will always be welcome in America. Our firm has filed plenty of successful immigration applications during the past 20 months and we are excited to accelerate that as the world gets back to normal.


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.


Immigration Attorney Explains E-2 Visa Citizenship Requirement.

Senior Immigration Attorney at our firm, Verdie Atienza, details all the issues surrounding nationality requirements for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. In the video, which you can watch below, Verdie explains that you must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country. The full list of E-2 countries can be found here.

Don’t worry if you are NOT from an E-2 Treaty Country. You can obtain citizenship of an E-2 country and then apply. The two countries with the fastest and cheapest pathways to citizenship are Grenada and Turkey. Verdie outlines the process and costs in the video.

The E-2 visa allows you to move to the United States for the purposes of investing in and actively running a business. Your investment must be sufficient for the business and usually upwards of $100,000. Spouses can apply for work permits for the US and children under the age of 21 can accompany you. You can keep renewing the visa so long as the business continues to operate successfully.

Watch the video and contact Verdie if you have any questions.


US Immigration Pathway

E2 Treaty Investor Visa Advantages: Fast Processing Times

The head of our E-2 Visa Practice Verdie J. Atienza speaks in our latest video about some of the advantages of the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Firstly, we look at the fast processing times of this visa.

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is unique in that the work is primarily done by embassies and consulates rather than the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) US embassies and consulates have been closed or providing reduced services over the past eighteen month as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They have started to reopen, but this is all very much dependant upon the individual location. With places in Europe reopening after lockdown and places in the Far East and Australasia clamping down.

In normal times, applicants can expect to wait just a few weeks and up to a month for the embassy to review their petition. Premium processing is also available, whereby you pay a little extra on the administration fee to jump the queue.

What is the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

The E-2 Treaty Investor allows a person to move to the US with their family for the purposes of owning and operating a business. The E-2 investor must be actively involved in managing the business, but the spouse can apply for authorization to work in the US. The visa is renewable in instalments up to 5 years, but provided the underlying business continues to operate, you can keep renewing it.

There is no minimum investment required for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, but it must be appropriate for the business in question and we usually recommend investments upwards of $100,000. This does not all need to be cash, but can also be inventory, intellectual property and other items.

The E-2 Visa offers flexibility in the type of business you can own and operate. You can expand your foreign business, acquire and existing US business, start a new business, or purchase a franchise business.

E-2 Visa Plus Citizenship by Investment (CBI)

To be eligible for the E-2 Visa your must be a citizen of an E-2 country. Click here to check if you are from an E-2 country. If you are not a citizen of an E-2 country then you need our E-2 + CBI package. This is where you first obtain citizenship by investment of an E-2 Treaty country and then progress to an E-2 application.

The two E-2 countries with the fastest and most cheapest routes to citizenship are Grenada in the West Indies and Turkey on the eastern edge of Europe. Grenada Citizenship starts from $150,000 for a donation and $220,000 for an investment. Turkish citizenship starts from $250,000 for an investment and $500,000 for deposits in a Turkis bank.

Average processing times for both Turkey CBI and Grenada CBI are fast – just a few months and in some instances just a month or two. When you couple that with the fast processing times of the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, this dual step route can take just a matter of months.

Contact us to learn more.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Advantages: Quick Processing Times

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.


EB-1, E-2 Visa for NIEs during Covid

Travelling to the United States During Covid: Extension to National Interest Exception (NIEs)

Life in America is returning to something resembling normality following a successful roll out of Covid-19 vaccines. However, disruption continues at the border with travelers from Europe (Schengen area), the UK, Ireland, China, India, Iran, Brazil and South Africa still banned unless you can obtain a National Interest Exception (NIE).

While restrictions may soon lift on the UK and Europe, the entry restrictions on the other countries show not sign of abating in the short term. Consequently, the State Department has extended the validity of NIEs to twelve months, permitting multiple entry to the US, so long as they are used for the purpose for which they are granted.

National Interest Exceptions permit travel to the United States, despite border restrictions. As the name suggests, you must be able to prove that your visit is in the US national interest.

Acceptable definitions of national interest include:

  • Directing significant economic activity
  • Journalist work
  • Supporting public health initiatives
  • Extraordinary humanitarian grounds

We have helped multiple clients obtain National Interest Exceptions permitting them to travel to the United States. Many of our E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, L-1 Employee Transfer Visa, New Office L-1 Visa and EB-1c International Manager or Executive Green Card clients may be eligible for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs). The same may be true for people on talent visas, such as the O-1 Visa, the EB-1a Visa, the EB-NIW, EB2 Visa, and other categories.

This issue only affects people coming from certain countries who are not permitted entry to the United States based upon high levels (current or historic) of Covid-19. As the pandemic evolves, new countries may be added to this list, whilst others may be removed. The countries as of today (July 8th) are:

  • China,
  • Iran,
  • Brazil,
  • South Africa,
  • the Schengen Area (Europe),
  • the United Kingdom,
  • Ireland,
  • India

Contact us to discuss how this affects you. Do not arrange travel to the US if you are either in or planning to visit any of the countries on the list above.

Read the State Department’s post.


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

Grenada Reopens to Vaccinated Travellers

Grenada is reopening to fully vaccinated travellers. And while you do not actually need to visit Grenada to obtain Grenadian Citizenship by Investment, many applicants do still wish to go and forge a personal connection with the island paradise in the Caribbean Sea.

Getting into Grenada

Grenada considers a person fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of Pfizer, AstraZenaca or Moderna, or two weeks after the first dose of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine. What is the process for getting in if youre fully vaccinated?

  1. Book two nights of quarantine in an approved location before you travel
  2. Get a PCR test 72 hours before flying
  3. Prepay for a PCR test for your arrival in Grenada
  4. Obtain travel authorisation from Grenada
  5. Fly to Grenada
  6. Present proof of vaccination
  7. Take PCR test at airport
  8. Stay in quarantine for 48 hours while your PCR test is checked

Pathways to Citizenship in Grenada

Grenada offers two pathways to citizenship – a donation to its National Transformation Fund starting from $150,000 or an investment in real estate from $350,000 with a $50,000 government fee. There is also an option for a partial share of a real estate investment from $220,000. Investment opportunities must be approved by the government and tend to be hotels and villas on the island. There are a handful of approved developers who have a long history working with the CBI programme. Some developers offer the option for a buyback of your investment after Grenada’s CBI conditions have been met.

Benefits of Grenada Citizenship

Grenada has a strong and stable economy with a strong tourism sector. Tourism numbers inevitably fell during the pandemic, but the country is predicting a quick rebound. Reopening the border to fully vaccinated travellers is the first step in this process. The Grenadian passport is relatively strong offering visa free access to around 130 countries, including the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the People’s Republic of China.

Access to the E-2 Visa

Grenadian citizens are also eligible for the United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. This allows a person from a treaty country to move to the US to invest in and run a business or franchise. Only citizens of Treaty Countries are eligible, so that excludes India, Russia, China, Vietnam and more. We have helped clients obtain E-2 visas via Grenada and its Citizenship by Investment programme.

While the Grenada CBI programme does not require applicants to visit the island as part of the application process, it is advisable that anyone considering the E-2 option should visit the island and create local ties. The US embassy that is responsible for E-2 applications from Grenadian citizens is on the neighbouring island of Barbados and Grenadian E-2 applicants may have to visit Barbados for interview.


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.


L-1 Visa information

International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) Program: What you need to know

The Biden Administration has relaunched the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) Program this week. The International Entrepreneur Parole program allows the owners and managers of promising startups to temporarily reside in the United States to grow businesses that have strong economic and job-creation potential.

Who is Eligible for the International Entrepreneur Parole Program?

As the name suggests the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is open to global entrepreneurs, but ultimately eligibility will be determined by the Department for Homeland Security (DHS) on a case-by-case basis.

Basic eligibility requirements include:

  • The business must be a startup, created within the past five year within the United States
  • The applicant must hold “Substantial Ownership” in the startup business
  • The applicant must play an active role in the business
  • The business must have secured credible funding or other demonstrable support from private US investors, or federal, state & local entities.

How long is the International Entrepreneur Parole Program Valid for?

The International Entrepreneur Parole Program is valid for up to 30 months initially. This can be extended by another 30 months provided the business is able to demonstrate that it has grown and created jobs. However, parole is not a visa and people wanting to stay in the United States for longer will need to carefully plan their options. Anyone from an E-2 Treaty Country could potentially transition to an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. If the underlying business becomes large enough or the entrepreneur privately has enough funds, then the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa offers a relatively fast route to a Green Card for a $900,000 investment. A Green Card is the name for US permanent residency, which offers the freedom to live and work anywhere in the United States.

Can my spouse and children accompany me to the United States under the International Entrepreneur Parole Program?

Yes. Spouses (husbands and wives) and children can accompany the primary applicant to the United States under the International Entrepreneur Program. Spouses can apply for work authorization. The primary applicant can only work for the startup and is not eligible to work elsewhere in the United States.

How many entrepreneurs can be granted International Entrepreneur Parole under this Program?

The maximum number of entrepreneurs per startup business is three (3).

Is the International Entrepreneur Parole Program only for Hi-Tech Startups?

No. The International Entrepreneur Parole Program is for any startup business in any industry sector. Provided it meets the key criteria and can prove that it offers strong growth and job creation potential for the United States.

Do I need to make an investment as part of International Entrepreneur Parole Program?

The start-up must have received an investment of at last $250,000 from private US based investors of $100,000 grants or awards from public agencies (local, state or federal). If you do not satisfy this criteria, you may still be granted approval if there is sufficient evidence to suggest the start-up will grow rapidly. At the renewal stage, you should be able to show that the business has received $500,000 in private or public and that it has generated $500,000 in revenue.

Which countries are eligible for the International Entrepreneur Parole Program?

The International Entrepreneur Parole Program is open to people from all countries unless there are specific sanctions or restrictions that impacts all form of immigration between your country and the United States. This means that the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is more wide reaching that the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, which has more advantages but is limited to people from Treaty Countries.

How does the International Entrepreneur Parole Program Compare with the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows an applicant to invest in and run a business in the United States. One of its main advantages over the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is the length of time you can remain in the United States. While the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is limited to 30 months with an additional 30 months for entrepreneurs who can demonstrate growth, the E-2 Visa is renewable forever provided the E-2 business continues to operate successfully. Like the IEP program, the E-2 Visa needs to be renewed and reviewed, but entrepreneurs usually have a little longer. This actual validity of your initial E-2 Visa does depend on where you are from – each country has its own validity period detailed in the State Department’s reciprocity schedules.

The advantage the IEP program has over the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is that the E-2 visa is only available to people from E-2 Treaty Countries. The International Entrepreneur Parole Program could be an alternative if you are not from an E-2 Treaty County. However, there is also another solution: E-2 Visa eligibility is determined by citizenship, so it is possible to obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty Country and become eligible for the visa. The fastest and most cost-effective ways to become a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country is the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme and the Turkey Citizenship by Investment Program.

How does the International Entrepreneur Parole Program Compare with the L-1 Visa?

Another alternative to the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is the L-1 Visa. The L-1 Visa permits the transfer of employees within the same company, the L-1A is for for International Managers & Executives and the L-1B is for highly skilled employees with specialized knowledge. Our firm specializes in New Office L-1 Visas, where you set up a new US office of your company and transfer an employee to the US to oversee the startup and growth of that company.

Unlike E-2, there are no nationality requirements for the L-1 Visa. The L-1A Visa can last up to seven years and the L-1B can be renewed up to a maximum of five years, both of which are longer than the IEP program. However, new office L-1 visas need to be reviewed and renewed after one year – which is earlier than the IEP program, but the progress requirements are usually less stringent. L-1 Visa holders who wish to remain in the United States permanently have a clear cut route to a Green Card through the EB-1c visa option.


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.


US Business Immigration Visas: L1, E2, EB5 Comparison Table

US Business Immigration Visas: L1, E2, EB5 Comparison Table

Our firm has helped hundreds of business owners and families move to the United States on EB-5, E-2 and L-1 visas. Which visa is best depends entirely on your unique personal circumstances. We recommend every new client have a free consultation with our team to discuss the various options in light of their personal goals, budgets and interests.

L-1 VisasE-1 VisasE-2 VisasEB-5 Visas
Visa available to nationals of any country?Nationals of treaty trader countries onlyNationals of treaty trader countries only
Must I have worked for a related company abroad for one year?
Ability of dependent Spouse to work in US
Can the visa be renewed into perpetuity assuming I re-qualify?
Is a business plan a very key element of a successful application?
Minimum investment RequiredSufficient to operate valid foreign business and US office or business entityNo theoretical minimum, but enough investment to create a real, viable, businessSufficient to fund business enterprise, generally > $100,000 although less is possibleEither USD 900,000
or USD 1,800,000

Visa Duration

One of the key differences is the length of time you can remain in the United States on each visa. The EB-5 visa leads directly to a Green Card (permanent residency). This means you can stay in the United States permanently until such a time as you opt to surrender your Green Card or apply to naturalize as a US citizen.

The L-1 visa and the E-2 visa are both non-immigrant visas. These do not offer permanent residency, but the E-2 visa is perhaps the next best thing because you can renew it indefinitely. Unlimited renewals means that you could technically live in the United States forever, provided the underlying business remains in operation.

The L-1 Visa is renewable up to a maximum of seven years for the L-1A visa and five years for the L-1B visa. After this time you would need to leave the US or transition to another visa or apply for a Green Card. It is best to discuss your options with an L-1 Visa attorney. Good fits for the L-1 visa are the EB-1(c) visa or the EB-3 visa. You can of course, also explore options for transitioning to a Green Card from an E-2 visa if you wish to make your presence in the US more permanent and not tied to the E-2 business.

The amount of time granted on your initial L-1 and E-2 visa will vary depending upon where you are from. Each country has a so-called reciprocity schedule which dictates the maximum visa validity period. Note that your visa might not be granted for the full period listed under your particular country. The authorities may wish you to return sooner to check on the status of your business. For example, “New Office L-1 visas” are granted for just a year initially, so checks on your progress can be made.

Investment Requirements

Each visa comes with a different associated investment requirement. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa – as the name suggests – offers a Green Card by investment. The investment requirements are $900,000 for investments in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and $1.8 million outside these areas. In practice, the Regional Centers who manage the vast majority of EB-5 investments all work in TEAs and so only the $900,000 applies. If you wish to do Direct EB-5, we would need to make sure the investment is placed in a TEA to qualify for the lower amount.

By conducting due diligence on the Regional Center and its project, an EB-5 investor can mitigate risks not only to the Green Card but also to the return of your capital. Most Regional Centers offer very low rates of interest (in many ways the Green Card itself is the return on the investment). By investing with a reputable Regional Center in a reliable project there is no reason why the investor should not see the return of their capital after several years.

There is no fixed investment requirement for the E-2 Visa. A good rule of thumb is that it should be in excess of $100,000 and must be appropriate for the business you are proposing to start or acquire. We have seen some successful E-2 applicants for less than $100,000, so we encourage you to contact us regardless. The investment does not only need to be cash – it can also be in stocks of inventory, patents, equipment etc.

The L-1 visa does not require investment if you are simply transferring from the overseas branch to the existing branch of a multinational company. New Office L-1 visas inevitably require investment to set up and grow the new US office. This needs to be suitable to the needs of the business.

Work Authorization

The EB-5 visa offers complete freedom to work (or not work) in the United States. A single application/investment can include not just the applicant but any spouse and children under the age of 21. Each family member receives their own Green Card meaning they are free to work in the United States. We find many of our EB-5 clients are motivated by their children university education and work prospects after graduation.

The primary applicant for the E-2 and L-1 visas are obviously required to work in the role they moved to the US to fulfil. Spouses of these visa holders, however, can apply for work authorization in the United States. This offers a lot more employment flexibility than the popular H-1B visa for example, since you are not tied to a particular employer. As non permanent residents, you are only taxed on your US earnings.

There are many different pros and cons to each of these visa categories. It is vital to discuss your personal circumstances with our team so we can take you through every eventuality and thereby determine the best visa for you and your family.


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.


Switching from an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa to an O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa: Client Case Study

By Verdie Atienza, Senior Immigration Attorney, Head of L-1 & E-2 Visa Practice

In 2015, D&A assisted a Romanian national to apply for E-2 Treaty Investor visa by investing $100,000 in a start-up company. The company specializes in intellectual property assets technical and financial consulting with a focus in global brokerage and facilitation of Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) addresses and AS Numbers.

Despite having grown into a multi-million-dollar private company, the company has not been able to meet its employment targets within 5 years because it made better business sense to employ independent contractors. The E-2 Visa requires a business plan as part of the application, which helps the authorities with the subsequent evaluation at the time of renewal.

As the E-2 visa was about to expire, we advised the client that renewing the visa prove to be very challenging due to the employment situation. D&A discussed all other options for the client and it was determined that the client may have a good chance of qualifying for the O-1A category based on his credentials and qualifications.

O-1A is for people with extraordinary ability in education, business, science or the arts.

Since the client has established networks in the US through his E-2 company, it was easy for him to find a petitioning US employer. Since the US employer has been a client of the E-2 company and since they saw how valuable the client us based on his expertise and experience, they did not hesitate in filing a petition for our client.

D&A filed the petition for our client as a person of extraordinary ability to occupy the position of  Global Internet Resources Manager and Facilitator.  In the petition, we carefully outlined as to how the client meets the requirements for an individual to be classified as someone with extraordinary ability in his field.

With a tailor-fit solution, the client no longer has to leave the US despite the inability to renew the E-2 visa. With a change of status application approved, he and his family maintain their lawful nonimmigrant status for an additional period of three years on O-1A status. Should they need to depart the US prior to the expiration of the three-year period, they can apply for the O-1 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate by submitting an application and presenting the O-1A approval notice.

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows a beneficiary to move to the United States to run a business. It is a non-immigrant visa in that it does not offer a Green Card, but our attorneys are able to advise on options for transitioning to a Green Card at a later stage. The visa is also renewable indefinitely provided the underlying business is still operating and meeting its targets.

There are not annual quotas or caps for the E-2 visa based upon country of origin. However, eligibility is determined by the applicant’s country of citizenship. You must hold citizenship of a country with an E-2 Treaty with the United States. If you do not, please contact our attorneys. We have helped people from non-E2-treaty countries like India and Vietnam become citizens of E-2 Treaty countries like Turkey and Grenada.

The O-1 Visa is available to people with extraordinary ability. It is also a non-immigrant visa, which means it does not offer a Green Card. However, it is possible to subsequently switch to a Green Card through the EB-1A Visa. Applicants for EB-1A visa from India and China are subject to a short wait because the category is capped annually by country and both countries are slightly oversubscribed. Please see our most recent blog post on the Visa Bulletin to understand this 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.


India’s Economy Predicted to be Fastest Growing in World in 2021: Options for Expanding Your Business Overseas


The Indian economy is forecast to be the fastest growing in the world this year. According to a report by Global Data the Indian economy is predicted to grow by 9.7% as its vaccination program gets underway.

As India’s economy recovers and grows, its business owners and entrepreneurs are once again eyeing global growth. At Davies & Associates we are seeing an uptick in demand for US and UK business and investors visas, as well as some interest in new markets like Vietnam and Italy.


L-1 Visa: Expanding a Business to the United States

Our Indian clients have continued to want to expand their businesses to the United States throughout the pandemic. Travel restrictions and an immigration suspension have inevitably slowed things down, but with a vaccine and a new Biden administration, things are starting to open up.

The main visa for expanding a business to the U.S. is the L-1 Visa, which allows a manager, executive or specialized-knowledge employee to move to the U.S. to oversee the establishment of the new office. With its teams of corporate and immigration lawyers, Davies & Associates helps its clients establish the U.S. entity as well as conducting all the necessary visa work.

The L-1 is a time limited visa restricted to a maximum of seven years, so L-1 visa holders need to then return home or transition to another visa. There is a possibility of obtaining a green card under the EB1C Visa, provided the client is able to demonstrate that there was no immigrant intent at the time of applying for the L-1 Visa.


E-2 Visa: Starting a Business in the United States

The other key solution for setting up a business in the United States is the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. We have been helping an increasing number of Indians with this visa, despite it not been a typical route to America. In fact, we were one of the first law firms to obtain an E-2 Visa for clients from. This is because Indians are not directly eligible for the E-2 Visa because India does not hold a relevant treaty with the United States. Our Indian clients need to first become a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country. Typically they opt for Grenada in the West Indies.

The E-2 Visa allows a person to move to the US with their family to invest in and run a business. The investment required needs to be appropriate to the business plan and usually upwards of $100,000. The visa can be renewed as long as the business continues to operate and spouses can apply to work outside the business.

The Grenada Citizenship by Investment application is quick and relatively cost effective. It takes just a few months and the applicant does not need to appear in person. The price starts from $150,000 for a donation to the national fund or $220,000 for an investment in real estate. Grenada has continued to process applications throughout the pandemic.


EB-5 Investor Visa

India was the largest market in the world for the U.S. EB-5 Investor Visa in 2019. That was before the investment requirement increased from $500,000 to $900,000 in November of that year to account for inflation that had not been applied since the program started in the 1990s.

The sticker shock of the price rise combined with Covid-19 dampened demand for EB-5 in 2020, but demand is on the rise again. It is good timing. Indians are limited to remitting a maximum of $250,000 each financial year – which will reset on April 1. This means that half the funds for and EB-5 investment can be remitted at the end of March and the remainder at the end of April. This should be done in a legally compliant way and we urge you to discuss this with our team.

Congress will debate the future of EB-5 at the end of June. The industry is hoping for long term reauthorization that will provide a clear steer to applicants. The changes could well be positive, but investors who wish to proceed with the certainty of the current regulations ought to consider applying before then.


UK Immigration Options

The UK has emerged from Brexit and is starting to look to Asia and to the Commonwealth. India ticks both boxes, and the UK remains a popular destination for our Indian clients. Entrepreneurs have the option of moving to the UK as the Sole Representative of their company, by transferring to the UK office of the business they work for, or by applying for a Start-up or Innovator Visa. The UK also offers residency by investment, albeit for considerably more than the U.S. with a starting price of £2 million.


Italian Immigration Options

Italy still has some way to go to be as popular with our Indian clients as the U.S. or the U.K., but people are nevertheless showing increasing interest in the country. Our recent expert webinar on One Euro Homes proved particular popular, and people have been intrigued by the Elective Residency Visa. This offers Italian residency to anyone who can prove they have at least €32,000 a year from income outside Italy to support themselves. Italy offers a residency-by-investment visa which is much cheaper than the U.S. or the U.K. The government recently reduced the price as a result of Covid, and investment now starts from €250,000.


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.


Why OCI may be the Next Best Thing to Citizenship for Indians

India does not allow dual citizenship, but Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status offers a form of permanent residency with many of the benefits of Indian citizenship.


Second Citizenship and OCI

We have experienced a sharp rise in demand for second citizenship among our Indian clients over the past few years. While many wish to relocate to long-popular destinations like the UK, Canada & Australia, a new trend has been quietly emerging.

Indians have started to obtain citizenship of less well-known places like Grenada in the West Indies. Places they have never visited and sometimes never even heard of before.

Why are they doing this? Well Grenada has lots to offer in its own right – a stable economy, beautiful beaches, and cricket, to name just a few. But one of the primary motivating factors is the fact that it offers Indians access to the United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa.

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa allows a person to move to the United States with their family for the purposes of investing in and running a business. Unlike the popular H-1B Visa, there are no limits or quotas, and it is not subjected to the same fast changing political whims.

The E-2 Treaty is governed by treaties with sovereign states, which outlast one particular president or another. But it is precisely because it is governed treaties that India is not eligible. India does not have a relevant treaty with the United States.

Therefore, to become eligible the E-2 visa, Indians need to first obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. The E-2 Treaty countries with the quickest and most cost-effective pathways to citizenship are Grenada and Turkey. Grenada has typically been more popular with our Indian clients.


What is OCI?

The only reticence we see with Indian clients pursuing the Grenada + E-2 route surrounds the issue of citizenship.

While Grenada allows dual citizenship, India does not. So, our clients are faced with the prospect of giving up their Indian citizenship for citizenship of a much smaller country a long way from home.

While for some, this is entirely worthwhile. They see the strength of the Grenada passport worldwide (it is one of the few countries to have visa free access to China, as well as the European Schengen area, and the U.K. – not to mention its access to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa).

But for others, the decision can be more daunting.

That is where OCI or Overseas Citizenship of India comes in. Anyone faced with the prospect of giving up their Indian citizenship can apply for OCI status and have many of the same rights as full citizens.

The principle differences between OCI and full citizenship are that Overseas Citizens of India are not eligible to vote, are not eligible to hold public office, and are not eligible to acquire agricultural land.

In most other aspects Overseas Citizens of India are treated much the same as Non Resident Indians (NRIs), Indian citizens who reside outside of India for at least 182 days per year.

The OCI is essentially a life-long, multiple-entry visa to visit or live in India for any purpose including work. It is essentially a form of permanent residency.


Some benefits of OCI
  • No need to report presence in India to the authorities
  • Same rights as Non Resident Indians except not able to acquire agricultural land
  • Additional permission required for work in fields of journalism, research, missionary and mountaineering
  • Same rights as Indian citizens to domestic air fares and to the admission price for national parks
  • Same rights as Non Resident Indians to work in registered progressions, e.g. doctors, dentists, nurses, advocates, architects, and chartered accountants.

And it is not only people who surrender their Indian nationality that are eligible for OCI status. Anyone with an Indian parent, grandparent or great grandparent is eligible. This makes the OCI program very popular in countries with large Indian diaspora communities like the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.


Restrictions on OCI
  • Cannot vote
  • Cannot run for political office
  • Cannot obtain government jobs
  • Cannot acquire agricultural land

Grenada Citizenship by Investment

Citizenship of Grenada can be obtained within an average of less than three months for an investment in real estate starting from $220,000 or a donation to a public fund from $150,000. The Turkish program requires an investment in real estate starting from $250,000 or deposits in a Turkish bank of $500,000 or more.


What is the E-2 Visa?

The E-2 visa allows a person to move to the U.S. with their family to actively invest in and run a business. The required investment should be suitable for the business, usually starting from $100,000, and this should be reflected in a credible business plan. Spouses can apply for work authorization outside the business and the family is free to travel to and from the United States.

It is possible to invest in a franchise business, or set up a business from scratch. It is important that the business is structured in a way that complies with all immigration regulations. We advise E-2 applicants to engage not just our immigration lawyers, but also our corporate lawyers. Both teams work closely together to maximize the chances of a successful application and subsequent renewals.


Reversing the Process: Becoming a Citizen Again

The decision to surrender Indian citizenship is rarely taken lightly. OCI offers many of the same benefits, and for people whose minds or circumstances have changed, there is a route to re-obtaining Indian citizenship.

A person who is registered as an OCI for 5 years is eligible to apply for Indian Citizenship if they have been living in India for one of those five years.

This is, nevertheless, an immensely important decision. We recommend that you speak with our attorneys so you are fully apprised of OCI, citizenship by investment, and where applicable, the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Please contact us to discuss your personal 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.