With the waiting period for the EB-5 visa to the United States of America stretching to nearly seven years, Indians are now eyeing the E-2 visa route as their ticket to the American shores.
The E-2 visa is a non-immigration programme under which an individual can set up a business and work in the US at an investment of $100,000.
In an interaction with Moneycontrol, Mark Davies, Global Chairman of New York-based immigration law firm Davies & Associates, LLC, said the process of getting an E-2 visa is simpler. An individual has to apply for a Grenada passport, which would take 3-6 months, and then apply for an E-2 visa.
"The E-2 visa is all about setting up a business in the US. If the business is big enough in the future, your E-2 visa can be converted into a green card," added Davies.
Apart from Grenada, an individual can apply for a Turkish or Montenegro passport and use a similar route to apply for an E-2 visa. This visa is issued for five years but can be renewed for a lifetime. Davies said the law firm had a 100 percent success rate in their applications.
Under the EB-5 visa programme, the US government has announced that the new minimum investment limit of the EB-5 visa programme would be set to $900,000 for target employment areas (TEAs), and the minimum investment made outside TEAs is set to increase to $1.8 million. This change is expected to be applicable from November 21, 2019.
Due to a huge demand for EB-5 - which is seen as an alternative to H-1B - there is a long wait-list of eligible Indians who have applied for the visa. This visa gives permanent residency to those who invest the requisite amount and also help create a set number of employment in the US.
The USCIS allocates 10,000 visas every year under the EB-5 programme or Immigrant Investor Program to immigrants and their families, whose qualifying investments result in the creation or preservation of at least ten full-time jobs for US workers.
On the other hand, there is no limit on the number of E-2 visas that are issued every year.
There are more benefits.
Though the biggest drawback is that you don’t become a US citizen through an E-2 visa, individuals get the right to live and work in the United States for almost their entire life.
Family members can also be eligible to be dependents under the E-2 visa. But when the child of the applicant reaches the age of 21 years, he/she will be required to apply for a separate visa and cannot work under the parent’s visa.
Davies said that for a family for five people, an individual would only have to spend $600,000-700,000 for an E-2 visa. For an EB-5 visa, he/she would have to spend almost $4.5 million if five people (family but not direct dependent/spouse) were to be taken. He said that about 30-40 Indians have applied for E-2 this year, compared to less than five, the previous year. The numbers are expected to shoot up.
Once you get the requisite passport, getting an E-2 visa would take another two to three months. Another reason why Indians are preferring the Grenadian route, according to Davies, is because once you have a Grenada passport there is visa-free travel to Europe, China and UK (pre and post Brexit), Russia, Singapore and UAE.
Further, he added that individuals can also legally avoid the Indian capital gains tax by going through the Grenada passport route.