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.


Keeping a Family together through the E-2 Visa: Client Case Study

Our client wanted to be temporarily reunited with his wife who was living in the United States, but time limitations to his visitor visa meant he had to seek a longer- term alternative. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa proved the optimal solution.

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

Our firm assisted a Jordanian national to with obtaining an E-2 visa and subsequently a green card. While he is married to a US permanent resident, he did not initially wish to reside in America permanently.

Since he did not want to be apart from his wife for too long, he entered the US on his visitor’s visa and was given a period of 6 months of authorized stay.

Prior to the expiration of his period of authorized stay, he has decided that he wants to stay for a longer period of time to determine whether he wants to permanently decide to live in the US or convince his wife go back with him to Jordan. We recommended the change of status to E-2 option for him.

Our firm assisted him in setting up his E-2 company and guided him on making the investments. He opened a bakery restaurant which offers a variety of Lebanese-style flatbreads with a variety of toppings, with options for meat-lovers, vegetarians, and vegans.  

Having a permanent resident wife posed a hurdle in terms of proving his non-immigrant intent. We worked with the client in documenting ties to Jordan and we successfully obtained an approval which granted a period of authorized stay of two years on E-2 status.

The success of his business changed his mind about his future in America. He decided to apply for permanent residency by virtue of his marriage to a Green Card holder.

The priority date for spouses of permanent residents had recently become current and so we advised him to immediately file an adjustment of status application.

The application has been approved and he is now waiting for his Green Card. With careful planning, our firm managed to lessen the client’s physical separation from his wife.

What is the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

The E-2 Visa allows a person to move to the United States for the purposes of investing in and running a business. The visa is renewable indefinitely, provided the underlying business remains in operation.

Spouses can move to America along with the primary applicant and can apply to work outside the business. Dependant children can also move to the United States with their parents.

Investors can choose to purchase a ready-made franchise business provided it complies with the E-2 visa regulations. Davies & Associates has a team of corporate lawyers to make sure the franchise or start-up is structured in a way that complies with all the immigration regulations.

While many E-2 clients opt to invest in restaurants or retail, some choose to have businesses that do not necessarily require a bricks-and-mortar presence. These people benefit from a recent innovation to the E-2 visa program that no longer requires the business to have a physical premises.

Who is eligible for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

Eligibility for the E-2 Visa is determined by country of citizenship. An applicant must hold citizenship of a country that holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States.

The full list of countries with E-2 Treaties can be found here. Jordan holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States, so this client was directly eligible for the program. Since there are no quotas for this program, the client was not subject to any waiting lists and his application could progress quickly.

Furthermore, since the E-2 Treaty is governed by treaties, it is less exposed to political machinations than most other visa categories. These treaties tend to outlast short-term political changes in Washington.

If the client had not been from an E-2 Treaty Country, the client would need to have first obtained citizenship of an E-2 Treaty Country. The two E-2 treaty countries offering the quickest and most cost-effective pathways to citizenship are Grenada and Turkey.

Grenada offers dual citizenship within just a few months in exchange for an investment in real estate starting from $220,000 or a donation to a government fund starting from $150,000. Turkey requires a $250,000 investment in real estate or $500,000 deposits placed with Turkish banks.

Please contact us for more information: vatienza@usimmigrationadvisor.com

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.


What Impact Will Biden have on E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

While Joe Biden spoke favorably about immigrants in the run-up to the 2020 election, he may find his ability to act favorably hampered by a hostile Senate and an economy ravaged by Covid. Despite this uncertainty, once visa category is likely to continue to be unscathed by all the dramas in Washington: the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa.

This is because the E-2 Visa is governed by treaties with sovereign countries that long outlast one president or another. In fact, the oldest E-2 Treaty – with the United Kingdom – dates back more than 200 years.

The E-2 Visa allows foreigners to move to the United States with their families for the purpose of owning and actively managing a business. This could be something they start-up from scratch, or it could be an off-the-shelf franchise business.

There is no fixed investment required for an E-2 visa, but the amount of capital being brought into the United States needs to be proportionate to the needs of the business.

The spouse of the E-2 visa holder can apply for work authorization in the United States and is not tied to working in the E-2 business. This offers a lot more employment flexibility than the H-1B visa, which somewhat bounds and employee to a particular employer.

The E-2 Visa does not bestow permanent residency, but can be renewed indefinitely provided the underlying business is still in operation. There are options for transitioning to a Green Card – for example, through the EB-5 Visa Program.

The E-2 has enjoyed bipartisan support in the United States because it brings investment and creates jobs. In fact, when President Trump chose to suspend a swathe of visa categories in response to Covid, he deliberately exempted the E-2 Visa from the “ban”.

Unlike other visa categories, there are no quotas or country caps for the E-2 Visa, and processing times are very fast in comparison.

The key limitation is whether your country holds a relevant treaty with the United States. You can find out if you country holds a treaty with the US here.

If your country does not hold a Treaty then don’t worry, there are still options. Firstly, new countries are sometimes added to the list. For example, Israel and New Zealand are recent additions to the list of E-2 Countries.

Nevertheless, citizens of countries like India, China, Vietnam, South Africa and more are not eligible for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Citizens of these countries have to obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty Country first.

The two countries that offer the most cost-effective and fastest routes to citizenship are Grenada in the Caribbean and Turkey. Once you have obtained citizenship of one of these countries, you can apply for the E-2 visa.

Grenada offers citizenship for a real estate investment starting at $220,000 or a donation of $150,000. Processing times are extremely fast and you are not required to visit the island. There is no tax on worldwide income and there are no residency requirements. Grenada allows dual citizenship.

Turkish citizenship can be obtained in a matter of months in exchange for a $250,000 investment in real estate or $500,000 deposits in a Turkish bank. Turkey is a popular option because of its helpful position as a global aviation hub.

Table: E-2 Countries Offering Citizenship By Investment

View our step-by-step infographic detailing the process of obtaining an E-2 Visa through citizenship by investment

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.


Clients Wait Out the EB-5 Queue in the USA Using E-2 Visa

D&A Clients Wait Out the EB-5 Queue in the USA Using E-2 Visa

We are delighted to have received yet another E-2 Treaty Investor Visa approval today. This time it’s for a client who already has an approved EB-5 application, but is facing a wait before an EB-5 visa becomes available. In fact, she is part of a growing trend of people looking to the E-2 visa as a means of moving to the United States faster than EB-5 allows.

The EB-5 Visa is proving fantastically popular in some quarters – especially China and Vietnam where supply is often outpacing demand. As well as India, South Korea and Taiwan where demand is fast catching up with supply.

When demand exceeds supply, that country is subject to a waiting list for EB-5.

There are normally around 700 EB-5 visas available to each country per year. The quota does not take account of population size, which partially explains why demand is so high in certain countries.

Growing demand can also be explained by the fact that the EB-5 investor visa is offers permanent residency at a lower cost than other similar nations, for example the UK starts from £2 million and Italy, which was mostly more expensive until the Italian government reduced its investment amounts over the summer in response to Covid-19.

How long are the delays?

It is hard to calculate the exact length of the delay faced by each country because they are subject to so many moving parts. We explain the delays in more detail in our analyses of the visa bulletins.

Citizens of China are subject to extremely long, multi-year delays. For Vietnam the delay is shorter but still an inconvenience. And for India there is currently no delay, but there were delays as recently as this summer. Taiwan and South Korea have never faced delays, but they are heading in that direction.

Some people opt to wait out the delays in their home country, but others are keen to get to the United States sooner. That is where the E-2 visa comes in.

The E-2 Visa has no waiting list and processing times are very fast

The EB-5 country-quota depends upon a person’s country of birth rather than their current citizenship. For example, the client approved for E-2 today was born in mainland China but is currently an Australian citizen. That means that for EB-5 purposes our client is subject to the China quota – which has a long waiting list – rather than the Australian quota which has never come anywhere close to its annual cap.

Yet that Australian citizenship has come in handy when it comes to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Because, although there are no caps or quotas for E-2, eligibility for this visa is determined by your country of citizenship.

China does not hold and E-2 Treaty Country with the United States, so its citizens are ineligible. Australia, on the other hand, has a well-established treaty that makes its citizens eligible for the E-2 visa.

Essentially, you must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country in order to qualify for an E-2 visa. This means the country in which you hold citizenship must hold a relevant Treaty with the United States. Click here to find out if your country is on the list.

Becoming eligible for the E-2 Visa

If your country is not on the list then you can become eligible through a two-step process. First you need to obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country, then you can apply for the E-2.

It sounds complicated, but in reality it is relatively simply. We have done this for a number of clients in the past. The whole process can take as little as nine months if everything runs smoothly.

Grenada and Turkey offer fast and cost-effective routes to citizenship that can provide a springboard to the E-2 Visa. Learn more about Grenada’s citizenship program here. Learn more about Turkey here.

Benefits of the E-2 Visa

So why have people bothered going to so much trouble? Well for one thing, Turkey and Grenada offer multiple benefits in their own right. But also because people get excited by the E-2 visa, which allows them to move to the United States for the purposes of owning and operating a business.

  • Investment requirements are relatively modest (no hard-and-fast rule, but usually starting from around $100,000).
  • You can start your own business or purchase a franchise
  • You can bring your spouse and children with you
  • Spouses can apply to work outside the business
  • You have freedom to travel to and from United States
  • There is no longer a requirement for a physical office space
  • The visa is renewable indefinitely – if the underlying business remains

E2 to EB-5

Unlike the EB-5 visa, the E-2 visa does not offer permanent residency. So if you close the underlying business, you would be required to leave the United States or find an alternative.

The E-2 Business Could Qualify for EB-5 if it Meets the Requirements

That is where the EB-5 comes in. There are two options for transitioning to EB-5 from E-2. Firstly, if your E-2 business has grown large enough, it may qualify as an EB-5 investment in its own right. The invested capital would need to be more than $900,000 if your business is situated in a targeted employment area ($1.8 million outside of these areas). It would also need to be able to sustain ten full-time employees.

Alternatively, you can invest in the EB-5 Regional Center program separately to your E-2 business. This removes the challenge of ensuring your business is consistently compliant with the EB-5 rules. While the Regional Center works to ensure compliance, you and your attorney should still be conducting due diligence on the Regional Center’s investment project to identify any risks to your Green Card and investment.

Case study

Our client established a New York-based company that sells well-designed, high quality, comfortable women’s clothing. It sells products online but the items will also be available in luxury department stores.  

Customers are able to order items directly from the Company’s website, Instagram, or mobile application. The Company uses engaging social media content, with a focus on building a brand through storytelling and it employs technology to create an immersive experience for clients through application of augmented reality (AR).

Our client was born in China but is currently an Australian citizen. She already has an approved EB-5 application (Form I-526), but faced a long wait for an EB-5 visa with all other Chinese-born applicants.

Chinese citizens are not eligible for the E-2 visa, but by holding Australian citizenship, she was eligible. This means the client was able to apply for an E-2 visa to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams in the United States.

Nevertheless, most of her funds came from China, which meant there were restrictions on the transfer of funds that required careful planning. Additionally, the closure of the US consulates in Melbourne delayed the interview and slowed the whole process by several months.

We wish her the best of luck in America.

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.


Am I a Citizen of Country that Holds an E-2 Visa Treaty with the United States?

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is one of the most sought-after US visa categories. Little wonder. The E-2 visa allows a person to own and operate a business in the largest economy in the world.

It can be renewed indefinitely provided the underlying business is in operation and still performing; Spouses can apply for work authorization outside the business; Dependent children can join you in America; You are not taxed in the same way as citizens and Green Card holders; You are free to travel to and from the United States; You can opt for an off-the-shelf franchise business or start your own.

Yet to qualify for this popular visa, you need to be a citizen of a country that holds a relevant treaty with the United States. Check out the list below to see if you are eligible.

List of E-2 Treaty Countries

Note: If your country is not on the list, Read on! We can still help.

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Grenada
  • Honduras
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kosovo
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Liberia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Republic of Congo
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Senegal
  • Singapore Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom

If your country is on the list then you can go directly to an E-2 Visa. If it is not on the list (and more than half the world’s population are citizens of countries that are not on the list), then you need to become a citizen of a country that is on the list first.

You see, unlike the EB-5 investor visa program, E-2 is determined by your country of citizenship. (While citizens of all counties are eligible for the EB-5 visa, each country is subject to an annual quota. Which EB-5 country quota you are subjected to is dependent on your country of birth rather than country of current citizenship.)

But with E-2 visa, obtaining dual citizenship or a new citizenship will make a difference to your eligibility.

So you need to become a citizen of one of the countries on the above list.

While several of these countries offer a pathway to citizenship, the timing and cost can be prohibitive. For example, you can invest your way to UK residency for £2 million. This sets you on a path to possible citizenship, that takes six years. You can reduce this time if you invest more. But even with a £10 million investment, it will still take 3 years to be eligible for citizenship.

That is quite the wait for the E-2 visa. Besides, if you ultimately looking to move to the United States and have such sums of money to invest, you might want to consider the EB-5 investor visa instead. Under this program, a family can all receive Green Cards in exchange for a $900,000 investment.

Yet there are two countries on the list that offer fast and cost-effective routes to citizenship: Turkey and Grenada. We have helped clients obtain E-2 visas via both countries. It takes a matter of months to complete the entire process.

Grenada offers citizenship in exchange for a real estate investment from $220,000 or a donation to the government of $150,000 (more depending on how many family members you are bringing). It takes less than three months to obtain the passport, you don’t need to visit during this process, and Grenada allows dual citizenship so you do not need to give up your existing citizenship (unless this is required by the other country).

Turkey offers citizenship in exchange for a $250,000 investment in Real Estate or a $500,000 in bank deposits held with a Turkish bank. The process takes only slightly longer and citizenship can be obtained in just a few months.

Both countries offer many benefits aside from the E-2 visa. Both are dynamic economies with considerable investment opportunities. Some of our clients prefer Turkey because it is an international transit hub often en route between their home country and the United States. Others prefer Grenada for its proximity to their new home in the United States.

A third option is Montenegro. It is newer and a bit more expensive that the other programs. It requires a minimum €250,000 investment in Real Estate as well as a €100,000 donation. Montenegro shares a border with the European Union and it is a candidate for membership.

Our attorneys can talk you through the whole process. Our clients who have pursued this route have found it surprisingly simply. To discuss your circumstances with our team, please contact us to arrange a free consultation.

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.


UK, Canada, Australia: Gateways to The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

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.


Acquire a Franchise Business and Move to the United States

Did you know it was possible to move to the United States to run a franchise business. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows people to emigrate to the US for the purposes of investing in and managing a business. This can include a franchise.

In this video, our Global Chairman Mark Davies, addresses some of the frequently asked questions about franchise business. And advises on some of the pitfalls to be aware of and to avoid.

For example, franchise brokers can help with the whole process. However, it is important to know if they are earning commission and to seek external advise.

Not all franchises are eligible for the E-2 visa, so it is important to check first. It is especially useful to have a corporate lawyer review the franchise agreement before you sign.

If you are not from an E-2 Treaty Country. Contact us to discuss ways to become eligible for the E-2 visa. This usually involves obtaining citizenship of a country that has an E-2 Treaty with the United States. Grenada and Turkey offer the most cost-effective pathways to citizenship.

This article and video 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.


EB-5 Visa Quotas in 2021

Podcast: Comparing E2 & L1 Visas in Light of the “Immigration Ban”

The L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa was temporarily suspended last month as part of President Trump’s ongoing so-called “immigration ban”. The list of visa categories suspended through to the end of the year is now quite lengthy.

However, there are notable exemptions: The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa and the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa are not included.

In this podcast we speak to Verdie Atienza, a senior immigration attorney at Davies & Associates, to examine whether the E-2 visa may prove a possible alternative to the L-1 visa in certain cases.

Verdie heads up our L-1 and E-2 practice team and so he is well placed to compare and contrast these two visa categories. Listen in as he provides a forensic comparative analysis of both.

L-1 Visas are used to move to management-level staff from an overseas branch to the US branch of the same company. At D&A we specialize in “new-office” L-1s which is where an individual can set up a US branch of their overseas company and then move to the United States to manage that new office.

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa allows a person to bring their family to the United States for the purposes of running a particular business. It is necessary that your country of citizenship has a relevant treaty with the US to qualify. For those that do not initially qualify, D&A offers a two-step process whereby you first obtain citizenship of a country that does qualify, like Grenada or Turkey.

Topics covered in the podcast include:

  1. The impact of the immigration suspension
  2. Investment requirements
  3. Premises requirements in the United States
  4. Spousal Rights
  5. Children’s rights and ageing out?
  6. Visa duration
  7. Renewal process and limits
  8. Business plan requirements
  9. Nationality requirements and quotas
  10. Becoming eligible for an E-2 visa through Citizenship by Investment
  11. Transitioning to a Green Card?

This podcast is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact us to speak to an attorney.


EB-5 Visa Quotas in 2021

Should Vietnam and India be granted E-2 Visa Status?

D&A Global Chairman Mark Davies argues the time is ripe to grant E2 and E1 Visa status for Vietnam and Indian citizens.

Before coming to Vietnam I did not realize that the US is Vietnam’s largest export market. Having spent years in India I did know of the massive potential to grow cross-border business between the US and India.

We are seeing a lot of interest in the L1 Visa and E2 Visa from companies in our offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai much of it being Vietnamese and Indian businesses looking to access the US market. Many Vietnamese and Indian firms are looking to increase their trade with the US through E2 and L1.

Vietnam and India both represent a huge opportunity for US businesses to expand and invest. Vietnam is Asia’s fastest growing market and companies want to grow by investing through a business there.

At the moment, obtaining an E2 Visa means a Vietnamese or Indian national has to obtain a second nationality, popularly Grenada and Turkey.

It’s time to put an end to the need for Citizenship by Investment in Vietnam and India and for the US to enter into a treaty with both Vietnam and India allowing for both the E2 and E1 Visa. Such a treaty would allow Vietnamese businesses access to the US and streamline the process by which US businesses can access the lucrative Vietnamese market.