Client Andrey V. turned to us in July 2017 with the request to obtain a second citizenship to further the process of the E-2 visa. However, there is no agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States of America allowing Russia’s citizens to receive this type of visa. Citizens of the following CIS countries can apply for the E-2 visa: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Moldova. You can find the full list of countries having an according agreement here.
The main goal was immigration, opening business in the USA and visa-free travel around Europe. Budget: $500,000.
The programs that were considered
Andrey considered 3 immigration options:
- The EB-5 visa received by investing $500,000 in the regional center for a 5-7 year period + around $100,000 on the lawyer expenses, center charge and state fee of the immigration services;
- The L-1 visa that can be received by someone in a management position for at least 1 year in a company outside the US territory operating for more than 3 years;
The EB-5 visa was not suitable for the client over the price and the necessity to freeze funds for more than 5 years. Moreover, the petition process consideration takes around 2 years, during which the applicant is not granted the permission to be in the USA. The client could neither fulfill the L-1 visa requirements, as the company existed for less than three years. A tourist visa was not an option, since it allows one to stay in the country for 6 months and it does not allow one to work in the USA.
- The E-2 visa.
The E-2 visa turned out to be the most reasonable option not obliging the applicant to have a company abroad. The investment amounts start at $100,000, with the family members receiving the right to work (like under the L-1 visa) and reside on the US territory 365 days a year. Among the Caribbean countries, it is only Grenada’s passport that provides the opportunity to get the E-2 visa.
Comparing the options of business immigration to the USA
|EB-5 visa||Е-2 visa||L-1 visa|
|Investment amount, USD||from 500,000||from 100,000||from 100,000|
|Associated costs, USD||50,000 — registration center fee;|
30,000 — lawyer’s fee throughout the whole process;
About 10,000 — immigration services charges.
|From 8,000 — lawyer’s fee;|
From 5,000 — business plan preparation, documents translation.
|From 8,000 — lawyer’s fee;|
From 5,000 — business plan preparation, documents translation.
|Processing time||2 years for getting a temporary green card + 2 years for getting a permanent green card.||Processing from 3 weeks to 2 months when the full package of documents is ready for provision.||Processing from 3 weeks to 2 months when the full package of documents is ready for provision.|
|Investment object||Investing $500,000 in the regional center or $1 mln in own business + creating 10 job positions.||Purchasing the working business or creating own business.||Purchasing the working business or creating own business.|
|Requirements regarding company active management||No||Active involvement in management.||Active involvement in management.|
|Possibility of getting a green card in the future||Leads directly to getting a green card.||Does not lead to getting a green card.||Possible to get a green card, specific requirements should be fulfilled.|
We prepared the case within 2 weeks and sent the documents to the island, after which we provided the client with the confirmation letter from the agency. At the stage of document preparation all the client had to do was to provide the original documents to the notary. The approval and the instructions regarding the donation in the Government Fund from the agency were received in the middle of October. After that the client made another investment and one month later the citizenship certificates and passports.
NB: The real time frame of applications processing in Grenada corresponds from 6 to 13 months, on average. Sometimes the citizenship agency may request for additional documents.
On September 11, 2018, the amendments were made to Grenada’s citizenship by investment program, according to which the applicant’s siblings can receive the country citizenship together with the investor. As of today, this option is available only in Grenada. After getting the passports, the client started preparing documents for obtaining the E-2 visa. For this purpose, with the support of the local experts, a business plan was created, the needed investments in his own business was made, a company was registered in the USA, etc. Find more information about the process of getting the E-2 visa in the cases about obtaining the E-2 visa.
NB: The E-2 visa is a non-immigration visa to the USA allowing one to permanently stay in the territory of the country. This type of visa does not lead to getting the green card, but its holder receives the SSN (Social Security Number) and has the right to work in his/her own company, and the visa holder’s family members receive the permission to be employed with any company. One can obtain the visa by opening a new company or by purchasing a working business. The obligatory requirement for successful visa opening and its further renewal is active involvement in business management. That is why passive investment will not be considered as a basis for obtaining the visa. The visa duration for Grenada’s citizens corresponds 5 years, with the unlimited number of renewals. One can apply for the E-2 visa in the US Consulate outside the country and also in the US territory through status changing, for example, changing from the tourist or student visa to the E-2 visa. In this case one does not get a visa stamp in the passport, but receives a notification about the status change.
Important! Getting Grenada’s citizenship is not equal to the automatic E-2 visa issuance, for this purpose one has to fulfill a set of requirements. Find more details about obtaining the E-2 visa on this page. What is more, the E-2 visa is one of the most popular options of business immigration to the USA. The number of issued E-2 visas in 2016 was 44,243. After receiving the passports, the client proceeded to the preparation of documents for the E-2 visa. This requires local investments in your business, registered in the USA, etc.
Having considered all the pros and cons, the client decided to receive Grenada’s passport and the E-2 visa based on the following criteria:
- Possibility of business immigration to the USA with the budget $500,000 and without owning a company in the country, which is a must for getting the L-1 visa;
- Opportunity to travel visa-free to the UK, the Schengen countries and China (Grenada is the only Caribbean country having visa-free regime with China and the E-2 visa agreement with the USA);
- Possibility to open accounts in respectable banks using Grenada’s passport. As of today, it is much more complicated to open an account using the passport of Russia.
How much time did the process of getting Grenada’s citizenship take?
The term from the moment of agreement signing to the moment of citizenship and passports receipt corresponded to 5 months. The client’s goal was reached. The citizenship of Grenada was received within 5 months and in November 2017 the client started preparing documents for obtaining the E-2 visa.
Khrystyna Ruzhilo: “Grenada’s citizenship is usually chosen with the aim of getting the E-2 visa to the USA and also by those clients interested in traveling without a visa to China. In September 2018, the country CBI program was amended and now the passport of Grenada can be issued to the client’s siblings. At the moment of the application filing by Andrey this provision did not exist. Today Grenada’s program is the only one allowing to list brothers and sisters in the application.”
Important notice: Besides Grenada’s citizens, the E-2 visa is available for the citizens of Moldova and Montenegro also offering passports in exchange for investment. Check a comprehensive list of the E-2 visa treaty countries.
- While choosing the citizenship program by investment, the client should pay attention to additional options, like agreements with other countries and the opportunity of including relatives in the application;
- Plan the process of obtaining citizenship with respect not only to the price, but also potential options that might appear in the future;
- The prices of programs vary depending on the number of applicants, so it is important to compare the costs of different options and to always clarify if they include associated costs like the necessity to visit the country, the cost of passport changing in case of expiration/damage/loss, etc.
- It is important to receive credible information about the program deadlines and requirements BEFORE the process launch. Requirements regarding funds sources differ considerably from program to program;
- In addition to the abovementioned, the following factors should be taken into consideration:
- Simplicity and cost of passport renewal or replacement;
- Complexity of the procedure of receiving the status and the guarantees (rejection rates, requirements to provide the documents related to funds source, etc.);
- Possibility of adding children and other family members in the future and the costs associated with this;
- Possibility of getting additional documents (driver’s license, registration address, local phone number, etc.), what it requires from the applicant, the correspondent prices and the necessity of the applicant to carry out personal visits;
- Possibility of getting the status if one has criminal record, bankruptcy experience and visa denials.
NB! Apart from the points mentioned above, one should know how effective the program is at this particular moment. For example, the cases filed to Saint Kitts and Nevis from October 2017 to March 2018 (when there existed a special offer through donation of $150,000 to the Hurricane Relief Fund) were considered for more than 8 months because over 1,200 applications were filed during that period, so the citizenship agency did not manage to process all the applications in time. Grenada’s program had high rejections rate in 2016: out of 175 applications, 19 were rejected, which is 11% of the total number. In Saint Lucia the procedures were not perfected enough within the first year and a half of the program operation. Only cooperation with the experts having extensive experience in dealing with various programs allows one to find the best option.