UK Government Extends Citizenship offer to Hong Kong Residents

The British government is proposing to offer a pathway to citizenship for around 3 million residents of Hong Kong. The move is a response to China’s introduction of a new national security law in the Special Administrative Region. The UK views this as a breach of the agreement surrounding the handover of the territory in 1997.

“We made clear that if China continued down this path we would introduce a new route for those with British National Overseas Status to enter the UK, granting them limited leave to remain, with the ability to live and work in the UK, and thereafter to apply for citizenship,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom.

Some three million Hong Kong residents are thought to be eligible for British National Overseas Status. Under current regulations, a British Overseas National is able to move to the United Kingdom for six months.

In response to developments in Hong Kong, the British government is planning to extend that period from six months to five years. UK rules mean a person can apply for citizenship if they can prove they have lived in the United Kingdom for five years.

This is not the first time the United Kingdom has taken such a step. In the 1970s, thousands of Ugandans of Indian descent emigrated to London after they were expelled by Idi Amin. Many Kenyan Indians also migrated to the United Kingdom around this time.

With Hong Kong, the scale could be one-hundred-times larger. While it is estimated that around 30,000 Ugandan Asians emigrated to Britain in the 1970s, around 3,000,000 Hong Kong residents could claim the right to take up the British government’s opportunity.

Just how many people would seek to emigrate is uncertain. The younger generation are likely to be more receptive to the move. Hong Kong remains a major global business hub, despite the febrile situation on the streets.

Britain is just one of the options open to Hong Kong residents seeking a way out. The United States, for example, has a range of visas that could be attractive to Hong Kong residents. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program offers a Green Card in exchange for a $900,000 investment in the US.

Each country is limited to 700 EB-5 visas per year. Fortunately, Hong Kong is eligible for its own quota, separate to China. The EB-5 program in China has been oversubscribed for years, and Chinese face a long waiting list. Please note, the EB-5 program is determined by country of birth.

Alternatively, countries all around the world offer citizenship by investment programs. The two countries with the fastest and most cost-effective programs are Grenada and Turkey. Grenadian citizenship can be obtained in less than two months starting from just $150,000.

Both Turkey and Grenada offer the additional benefit of providing Hong Kong residents with access to the United States E-2 Visa. This non-immigrant visa allows a person to move invest around $100,000 or more to acquire or start-up a business in the United States.

Davies & Associates can help our Hong Kong clients with all the aforementioned visas, including their interest in the United Kingdom. Please contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

Written by Duncan Hill, Marketing Director, D&A. 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.


The President’s Immigration Ban: Why you Should Still Apply for a Visa

Cost of EB 5 Visa

Duncan Hill is marketing director at Davies & Associates LLC. Duncan is not a lawyer and nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice.

 

President Trump tweeted last night that he would sign an executive order banning immigration to the United States. While it is still unclear how this will play out, it is only likely to be a temporary setback. Anyone hoping to apply for a US visa should continue as normal if their circumstances permit.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy,” the president tweeted, “as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States.”

Beyond the tweet, there is very little detail on what would be covered in the executive order. Immigration is a broad concept in the United States, ranging from asylum and the rights of undocumented workers to green cards for investors under the EB-5 Visa program. Would, for example, spouses of Americans (K-1 visas) be included in a ban?

Despite the lack of detail, it might still be advisable for would-be immigrants to press on with their applications. For one thing, any ban would likely cause a build-up of demand. Therefore, progressing an application would help secure a good position in the line once a ban is lifted.

While it is difficult to predict when such a lifting would occur (especially as the ban has not yet been ordered), there are still clues. For starters, President Trump said in his tweet this would only be temporary. Moreover, there are also likely to be legal challenges as there were over Executive Order 13769, the so-called “Muslim Ban”. Additionally, this being an election year, a change of administration in January 2021 would likely result in a reversal.

The second, closely related reason to persevere with an application is that it takes time to prepare one. Davies & Associates specializes in EB-5 visas, E-2 visas, and L-1 visas, all of which require significant preparation. This work could still be conducted while a ban was in progress.

Under the EB-5 program an entire family can obtain Green Cards in exchange for a minimum $900,000 investment. The US authorities are meticulous that each dollar is properly accounted for, and this can take time to document.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which processes EB-5 applications, is still operating in spite of Coronavirus. While they are closed to public interactions, they continue to adjudicate cases. Processing times currently range from 30 to 50 months. Reform to the EB-5 adjudications process will probably reduce this, but it nevertheless points to a time frame much greater than a temporary immigration ban.

The E-2 visa allows a family to move to the United States for the purposes of owning and operating a business. The applicant must pitch a credible business case to the US authorities, which takes time to prepare.

E-2 applicants must come from an E-2 Treaty Country. If you are not from an E-2 Treaty country, it is possible to become eligible for an E-2 visa by first taking citizenship of a country that is eligible. The cheapest and most cost-effective of these is Grenada, Turkey and Montenegro.

Processing times for these citizenship-by-investment programs are quick. In Grenada, for example, citizenship can be obtained in less than three months. The Grenadian authorities are still processing applications, despite a strict lockdown. There is no requirement to visit the country so applications can be made remotely.

Davies & Associates has helped clients obtain the E-2 visa in this way. Countries non directly eligible for the E-2 visa include India, China, Russia, Vietnam, South Africa and Nigeria. Davies & Associates has helped people from non-Treaty countries become eligible for the E-2 visa.

The L-1A visa moves managers within the same company, from an overseas office to an American one. At D&A we specialize in so-called “new office” L1s. This is where we help clients set up a US branch of their existing business and then move themselves or a colleague there to manage the new office.

Inevitably it is necessary to set up the US office before applying for the visa. Again, this is work that could be done regardless of an immigration ban. Our corporate lawyers have helped hundreds of foreign businesses relocate and thrive in the United States.

So, given the time it takes to prepare a visa application and the uncertainty surrounding the ban, it is advisable to start applying regardless. The USCIS and American embassies would likely face a backlog once any ban is lifted. Secure yourself a good position in the queue by proceeding with your application.

 


Investors look to the E-2 Visa as the Cost of an EB-5 Visa Increases from Thursday

Cost of EB 5 Visa

Duncan Hill is marketing director at Davies & Associates LLC. Duncan is not a lawyer and nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice.

 

Barring an eleventh-hour intervention, the minimum investment required for an EB-5 application is increasing from $500,000 to $900,000 in areas of high unemployment and from $1 million to $1.8 million everywhere else.

 

Given the time it takes our attorneys and paralegals to prove that a client’s source of funds meets with strict US requirements, it is most likely too late to apply for an EB-5 at the current rate. 

 

For those who can afford the higher investment amount, the EB-5 visa remains one of the fastest routes to a Green Card. 

 

For those who cannot afford the higher investment amount there are a range of options available. Here at D&A, the team picking up most of the slack is the E-2 Visa team (although there are a range of other options available and we advise you to discuss them with us.)

 

The E2 Visa is designed for people seeking to move to the United States to own and operate a business. Processing times are quick, and spouses are eligible to apply for work authorization in the United States. It is possible to expand an existing business, open a new one, or buy an off-the-shelf franchise.  

 

Only citizens of countries with a relevant commercial treaty with the United States are eligible for E-2 visas. This excludes some countries where demand for US visas is the highest, including India, China and Vietnam. Citizens of these three countries already face a multiple-year wait for an EB-5 visa because demand has far outstripped supply.

 

Yet at D&A we are part of a wave of pioneering law firms working to help citizens of such countries become eligible. For example, we have helped clients obtain E-2 visas by first becoming citizens of Grenada in the Caribbean. Coupling an E-2 Visa with Grenadian citizenship in this way has allowed people to live and work in the United States while on the EB-5 waiting list. If the business becomes large enough, it is feasible that it could be transitioned to a Green Card via EB-5.

 

Grenada is a cost-effective option with no residency requirement or tax on worldwide income.  Processing times are quick and have just got even faster. It is possible for the whole process of Grenada and E-2 to take just a matter of months. Grenada is not the only option available and D&A works with a range of E-2-eligible citizenship by investment programs around the world, including Turkey, Montenegro, and various EU countries. 

 

Contact our team today to discuss a bespoke immigration solution to suit your needs.