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Second citizenship as a pathway to USA residency

Kristina Kurkuliak
02 April 2021

The USA has long been considered to be the holy grail of immigration. A nation founded by immigrants and one of the largest immigration magnets of the globe, the US is still considered a top destination for immigrants from all around the globe. While the process is not as simple as it used to be, jumping on a ship from Europe to the US is now much more complex in terms of regulations, it still gathers demand from all around the world.

The US itself has various available visas for prospective immigrants to choose from, yet the sheer complexity of many of them makes it a troublesome process. The EB5, one of the most popular options to get a green card, for example, is a simple route but requires hefty investment sums (either USD 900,000 or USD 1,800,000 depending on the project), and has seen a decline in applications since it minimum investment requirement price hike at the end of 2019. The processing times that could reach a whopping 14 years for certain nationalities due to the backlog also make the EB5 not the optimal choice for certain investors.

The previous administration under Trump also froze the H Visas, which are already reliant on solid job offers from qualified institutes, making it difficult for those looking to capture the American Dream to start their journey to the shores of the US. This has led many to ponder how to get a US visa that allows them to reside in the country, but the H visas were eventually brought back. While it has been reinstated by the Biden administration, the huge backlog and high requirements of the visa make it extremely exclusive.

There is one visa, however, that is simple, quick, and comes with reasonable requirements; the E2 treaty visa. The E2 visa is a treaty visa that encompasses a handful of nationalities, and it is a non-immigrant visa that grants its holders the opportunity to reside and work in the USA hassle-free.

E-2 Visa

Overview of the E2 visa

The E2 visa is a non-immigrant work visa granted to three tiers of immigrants:

  1. Investors who establish their own business
  2. Essential managers who are brought in by a US business
  3. Essential employees who are brought in by a US business

The most popular of these is the investor tier, as it gives the holder unlimited freedom of conducting their own business and not having their visa validity shackled by a job offer. We will focus on E2 investors and why this visa is one of the best routes of entry into the US, and how you can obtain it.

Which nationalities can apply for the E2

The E2 visa is conditioned by a treaty between the US and various countries. The nationals of these countries can apply for the visa directly either through the consulates or embassies in their home nations or through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the US if they have any existing US visa. The treaty nationals are:

  1. Albania
  2. Argentina
  3. Armenia
  4. Australia
  5. Austria
  6. Azerbaijan
  7. Bahrain
  8. Bangladesh
  9. Belgium
  10. Bolivia
  11. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  12. Bulgaria
  13. Cameroon
  14. Canada
  15. Chile
  16. Taiwan
  17. Colombia
  18. Congo
  19. Costa Rica
  20. Croatia
  21. Czech Republic
  22. Denmark (excluding Greenland)
  23. Ecuador
  24. Egypt
  25. Estonia
  26. Ethiopia
  27. Finland
  28. France
  29. Georgia
  30. Germany
  31. Grenada
  32. Honduras
  33. Iran
  34. Ireland
  35. Italy
  36. Jamaica
  37. Japan
  38. Jordan
  39. Kazakhstan
  40. South Korea
  41. Kosovo
  42. Kyrgyzstan
  43. Latvia
  44. Liberia
  45. Lithuania
  46. Luxembourg
  47. Macedonia
  48. Mexico
  49. Moldova
  50. Mongolia
  51. Montenegro
  52. Morocco
  53. Netherlands
  54. Norway
  55. Oman
  56. Pakistan
  57. Panama
  58. Paraguay
  59. Philippines
  60. Poland
  61. Romania
  62. Serbia
  63. Senegal
  64. Singapore Slovak Republic
  65. Slovenia
  66. Spain
  67. Sri Lanka
  68. Suriname
  69. Sweden
  70. Switzerland
  71. Thailand
  72. Togo
  73. Trinidad & Tobago
  74. Tunisia
  75. Turkey
  76. Ukraine
  77. United Kingdom
  78. Yugoslavia

The E2 visa requirements

The E2 investor visa is a straightforward US residency program that allows investors/entrepreneurs who wish to establish their business in the US to apply for residency in the shape of the E2. The E2 visa requirements are simple, submit a business plan for an existing or potential business in the US along with civil documentation. The process takes 3 months and can be expedited to 3 weeks if a premium processing fee is paid. You can apply for the E2 at the same consulate or embassy as you would apply for a USA visa. Investors can add their spouse and dependent children below the age of 21. The E2 visa validity depends of the nationality of an applicant, and can be a one year single entry visa (Jordanians and Egyptians for example) or could be a five-year multiple entry visa such as the case with Grenada or Turkey citizens.

Benefits of the E2 visa

The E2 visa does not get the recognition it deserves, mainly due to the fact that it is quite exclusive (we will mention below how that is no longer the case), and the E2 benefits are just too important to ignore. Here are some of the main benefits of the E2 visa:

  1. Reasonable investment amount: there is no set minimum investment amount for the E2, since it is based on a business plant then the minimum investment amount should correlate to the type and requirement of the business. An IT consultancy office based in Minnesota, for example, may not require an investment amount higher than USD 70,000. That same office based in California, however, may require an investment in the range of USD 100,000- USD 150,000. Proposing to open a chemical manufacturing plant that requires 30 employees and high-tech equipment may end up being much more than that. So it basically depends on the type of business you are proposing.
  2. Quick processing times: while the EB5 visa (dubbed by some as golden visa USA) may take years, sometimes a decade, to process depending on nationality, the E2 has no cap that creates a backlog like its EB5 or H1 counterparts. This makes E2 visa processing times for applications much faster and smoother. E2 visa applications normally take 3 months to adjudicate, and the process can be expedited to 3 weeks by paying a premium processing E2 visa fee if the consulate or embassy of application has that service available.
  3. Simple requirements: the E2 visa has a simple requirement to renew it, keep the business operational. There are no extra requirements such as job creation, maintaining a certain amount of profit, investment distribution, or otherwise. This makes the E2 very simple, and grants the investors total control over their renewal; as they are not at the mercy of a third party.
  4. No residency requirement: the E2 visa does not require you to stay in the US for a certain amount of time to renew it. Nor does it shackle you to a specific state or location, as you have the freedom to reside anywhere you wish in the United States of America.
  5. Simple application: the E2 application is quite simple, it consists of a few forms required by the USA government, a business plan, business documentation, and civil documents such as ID and police clearances. The simple application makes the E2 a joy for applicants and the process of collecting the required documents does not take much time.

American Visa E2

The E2 visa has much more benefits but these are the main ones, and it has proven to be one of the simplest, fastest, and most efficient ways of getting a US residency. Due to it being a treaty visa, however, not everyone can apply, unless of course, they get a second citizenship.

Second citizenship your pathway to the E2

While the E2 visa does seem shockingly exclusive, that is not the real case. Second citizenship by investment, something practiced by many investors in the aim of getting second citizenship for global mobility or other reasons, opens the doorway for everyone to be able to apply for an E2 visa. Three of the E2 treaty countries offer citizenship by investment programs; they are:

  1. Grenada
  2. Turkey
  3. Montenegro

Investors who are not nationals of a country with an E2 treaty in place with the USA can obtain the citizenship of these countries and become eligible to apply for the E2. Even those who are nationals of countries that do not offer favorable E2 terms such as Egypt which has a one year single entry visa can get second citizenship to enhance their E2 visas. So let’s take a closer look at each of these countries.

Grenada and the E2

The commonwealth nation of Grenada offers investors the chance to obtain its citizenship through the Grenada citizenship by investment program (Grenada CBI); in which applicants get citizenship for investing in real estate for an amount of USD 350,000 or by contributing to its National Transformation Fund in the amount of USD 150,000. The process takes between 3-6 months, meaning investors can get their E2 visa in less than a year. It also allows for adding multiple family members such as a spouse, dependent children, dependent siblings, and dependent parents & grandparents; all of whom can get Grenadian citizenship.

Grenada citizens are eligible, under the Grenada bilateral investment treaty with the US, for a five-year multiple-entry E2 visa which is renewable for the same period indefinitely. This is the best validity possible for the E2 visa and few countries other than Grenada are lucky enough to have it. The wonderful thing about the Citizenship of Grenada is that its passport is one of the best in the world, offering access to 144 destinations worldwide including the UK, Schengen Area, Hong Kong, Russia, China, and more. This mobility coupled with eligibility for the E2 makes the Grenada citizenship one of the best business-oriented citizenship by investment options in the world.

Turkey and the E2

The Anatolian country is one of great economic prowess, and it makes sense the USA wants to benefit from it. Turks are eligible for a five-year multiple-entry E2 visa much like their Grenadian counterparts and have a citizenship by investment program which is similarly structured. By purchasing a property (or properties) in Turkey for the amount of USD 250,000 you can apply for their citizenship by investment program which has a processing time of only three months until you obtain your Turkish passport. This allows for people to obtain an E2 visa in less than half a year. This makes the ultimate E2 visa cost extremely low. While the Turkish passport has less global mobility than that of Grenada (visa-free access to 111 destinations worldwide) and only allows for the addition of the spouse and dependent children below 18, it does only require investors to hold on to their investments for no more than 3 years.

Montenegro and the E2

Montenegro’s citizenship by investment program is the priciest of the lot, with a EUR 250,000 property investment and a EUR 100,000 contribution required to gain the European citizenship. It has great mobility; as its passport gives visa-free access to 124 destinations worldwide and it allows for addition of a whole array of dependents from a spouse, dependent children, and dependent parents.

American visas

The main drawback to Montenegro is that its citizens are eligible for an E2 visa valid for one year, albeit it being multiple entry. So this option is best for those already looking into becoming European citizens.

FAQs

Can you work in the USA with a USA E-2 visa?

Yes, a US E-2 visa allows you to live and work in the USA.

Which business is best for E2 visa?

There is no set of best businesses. It is only important to open a business that correlates to your experience and is scalable in the US market.

Who is eligible for E2 visa?

Nationals of countries that have an E2 treaty with the US can apply for the E2 visa. Other nationals can apply if they get the Grenada, Turkey, or Montenegro citizenship through investment.

How long is an E2 visa valid for?

This depends on the nationality of the applicant. Some nationalities like Grenada and Turkey get 5-year E2 visas. While the E2 visa validity for other nationals like Egypt or Jordan is only one year.

What is the minimum investment?

There is no E2 minimum investment requirement. It is only important that the investment amount corresponds to the business type. For startups, we recommend investments between USD 100,000 and 150,000.

How Long Can I Stay in the US?

You can stay in the US as long as your E2 visa is valid.

How Can I Extend My Stay in the United States?

You can extend your stay by applying for a renewal. The only requirement here is that your business is still active.

Would like to know more?

If you would like to know more about the E2 visa and how you can get the second citizenship you need to apply for it contact us today and book a free consultation with our second citizenship expert.

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