Mar 19, 2020

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA on an E-2 visa

Why does it make good sense to acquire Grenada citizenship by investment in 2020? There are numerous reasons to obtain the passport of this Caribbean country, as it will bring several weighty advantages. One of them is the possibility to apply for an E-2 visa to the USA. This visa type allows living and working in America for as long as you wish.

This is a non-immigration investor’s visa that compares favorably with the EB-5 investor’s green card along several parameters. The two main advantages of an E-2 visa are as follows: it can be obtained much faster than an EB-5 and the required investment amount is much smaller.

Grenada in the Caribbean is a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations and even though it is an independent country, officially its head is Queen Elizabeth II. Grenada attracts tourists by its warm climate, exotic plants and animals as well as luxurious hotels.

Foreign nationals are welcome to apply for citizenship of Grenada on the condition that they invest a certain sum of money into the country’s economy. The citizenship-by-investment Program was first launched in 1997 and then it was relaunched in 2013 after an almost ten-year break. The new version of the program looks much more inviting than the initial one.

You can acquire a second passport and citizenship of Grenada in two ways. First, you can choose to make a non-recoverable donation to the National Transformation Fund. The required donation amount is US$ 150,000. Second, you can make a returnable investment into real property in the country, that is, purchase (a part of) residential estate. In this case, the minimum required investment amount is US$ 220,000.

It is clear that the first option is less expensive but you will never see the money again. If you choose the second option, you will have to invest a larger sum but potentially, you can return it with a profit after a few years. In case you let your property on a lease, you can start returning your investment immediately after signing the purchase and then the rent agreements.

What benefits do you acquire when you obtain citizenship of Grenada? The main of them are as follows:  

  • There is no capital gains tax nor inheritance tax in Grenada and the income tax is relatively low.
  • An international businessperson will find a number of tax planning instruments in the country that will let him or her lessen the tax load.
  • You can obtain a second passport without ever paying a visit to Grenada. With our assistance, you can become a Grenadian citizen without even leaving home.
  • The official language in the country is English so you will feel at home there if you speak this language.
  • There are favorable opportunities to study in a British university if you hold a Grenadian passport.
  • You can obtain the passport not only for yourself but for the members of your family as well.
  • You will have easy access to all other Commonwealth of Nations member states.
  • With a Grenadian passport, you can travel to over a hundred countries including the Schengen zone and China without a visa.
  • You will have the right to apply for an E-2 visa, which is not a green card but it allows living permanently in the USA anyway.

Here we would like to put special emphasis on the last opportunity in the list above and compare the E-2 visa to the EB-5 investor’s green card. We will show that the former is more advantageous than the latter in several respects.

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: The E-2 program does not have national quotas

EB-5 investor’s green card: The number of applications for this program that can be approved within one year is set to 10,000. When this limit is reached, no more applications will be approved until the start of the following year. Moreover, citizens of a single country can receive not more than 7.1% of all green cards issued on the EB-5 program.  

The overall applications limit as well as the single country limit have caused considerable problems especially to the investors from China, India, and Vietnam.

E-2 business visa: There are no set limits. In 2018, over 40,000 E-2 visas were issued and this number was even greater in 2019. There is also no single country limit but this is explained by the fact that citizens of a limited number of countries are eligible to apply for an E-2 visa (see below).

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: E-2 visa is accessible only to the citizens of a few states, which shortens the queue

EB-5 investor’s green card: The main applicant can be a citizen of any country or territory of the world. The country of the applicant’s birth is usually considered the country of his or her origin.

Because there is a single country limit (restrictions connected with the applicant’s nationality), the large number of investors from China, for example, make to queue for the EB-5 visa very long.

E-2 business visa: The main applicant must be a citizen of one of the countries that have signed a special trade agreement with the USA. Please note that dependent applicants such as the spouse or children do not have to hold passports of such country.

There is no waiting period between the acquisition of the passport and the application for an E-2 visa. As Grenada is one of the countries that do have the abovementioned trade agreement with the USA, its citizenship is a very convenient way to receive access to the land of equal opportunities. This fact should be especially interesting to those whose current passport does not allow them to apply for an E-2 visa. 

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: E-2 visa takes much less time to obtain in comparison to the EB-5 green card

EB-5 investor’s green card: There have been cases when applicants for the EB-5 program had to wait for fourteen years before they were issued the green cards. For citizens of China, India, and Vietnam having to wait for ten years is normal. For other nationals, the waiting time is usually not less than two years.

These are rather long periods of time. It is important to realize that during the whole waiting period, your investment money will be ‘frozen’ while you will not have the right to live and work in the USA yet. Besides, the long waiting period is bad news for applicants with children because their status changes as they grow up (see below).

E-2 business visa: The US State Department takes between three and six months to process the applications for this visa. E-2 is a non-immigration visa and this is why applications for it are processed much faster than applications for EB-5.

Practice shows that usually two to ten weeks pass between the submission of the application and the invitation for the interview. One more week passes after the interview before the E-2 visa is put on the investor’s passport.

The longest part of the application process is actually the collection of all required documents. Nevertheless, an experienced immigration agent in Grenada will be able to help you with that.

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: E-2 costs less than EB-5

EB-5 investor’s green card: The required investment amount varies between US$ 900,000 and US$ 1,800,000 since the new tariffs were put into place in November 2019. EB-5 is still a comparatively affordable investor’s visa even though it used to cost almost half the current price.

However, even if you can afford investing US$ 900,000, you have to realize that this money will be ‘tied’ for several years while you are standing in line.

E-2 business visa: The required investment amount varies between US$ 100,000 and US$ 400,000. Actually, the US legislation does not specify the lowest required investment amount and the applications are considered on the case-to-case basis.

The investment must be ‘substantial’, which means its amount will largely depend upon the type and the geographical location of the intended business. For example, if you want to open a nightclub in Manhattan, you will have to bring more money than if you want to establish an accounting firm in Lincoln, Nebraska.  

As the minimum investment amount is undefined, please expect that the immigration agent that will help you file the application for an E-2 visa is going to be in doubt whether the sum you are planning to invest will be considered sufficient by the US authorities.

Normally, the lower limit of the required investment is US$ 100,000. However, there can be exceptions and a couple of applicants have obtained E-2 visas even at a lower cost.

The general rule is that the investment amount must correspond to the business realia in the environment where you are putting the money. This goes for both the business sphere and the geographical location.  

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: E-2 visa guarantees business flexibility

EB-5 investor’s green card: Theoretically, you can invest in any kind of business when you apply for an EB-5 green card. Besides, you do not have to personally participate in the business operations of the company that you invest into. Nevertheless, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), almost all cards are issued via regional centers that are interested in the investors bringing money to facilitate the development of certain industries.

At the same time, when you obtain an American green card, your business opportunities become virtually unlimited. This is the central factor that stimulates a large number of people to apply to the EB-5 program.

E-2 business visa: The rules of this program are different. Again, you can invest in any business on the condition that it is legal and it is used for making a profit.

However, you have to work only for the company that you have invested in, as you do not have the right to hold a position anywhere else. The E-2 visa allows putting money into any type of business: you can start a company from scratch, or buy an existing company, a franchise, or company shares.

The most important thing is that the E-2 visa holder must ‘direct and develop’ the business. This means that you have to have a permanent job with the company that you establish or purchase. The visa stamp in your passport will carry the name of this company. You are not allowed to work anywhere else in the United States. 

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: E-2 visa allows free travel

EB-5 investor’s green card: After obtaining the green card, the investor will have a permanent residence permit in the USA and he or she can leave the country and come back at his or her own discretion. We must warn you however, that a green card holder will be well advised to spend at least six months every year on the territory on the USA. Otherwise, the Immigration Service may start asking questions. 

E-2 business visa: The requirements to the periods of the E-2 visa holder personal presence in the USA vary and depend on the nationality of the visa holder. Every country that has signed the trade agreement with the States has its own specific conditions. Thus, the freedom of movement that each visa holder enjoys is different.

The most relaxed requirements are put forward to the citizens of several countries including Grenada. They can leave the USA and return as often as they please during five years before they will have to renew the visa.

There are other countries whose citizens are less lucky and are more limited in going back and forth. The most stringent conditions require that the E-2 visa holder enter the US only once and stay there for two years until he or she can apply for the visa renewal. If this person leaves the territory of the United States during this two-year period, he or she will have to obtain a new visa to enter the USA again.

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: E-2 program is friendlier to the investors with children

EB-5 investor’s green card: Investor’s children can be included in the application for the green card as his or her dependents and they can live with the main applicant until the time when they ‘grow up’.

Unfortunately, the waiting period can be so long that by the time the application for the green card is approved, the main applicant’s children may be grown up already. This will make them unqualified for the ‘dependent’ status. Thus, the date of the child’s birth is an important factor to take into account when applying to the EB-5 program.  

E-2 business visa: The investor’s children can also be included in the application for an E-2 visa and they can live with him or her until they turn 21. This visa program is ideal for those who want their children to attend an American school. (As a rule, children go to school in the USA until they are 18 or 19.)

Shortly before the 21st birthday, the child of an E-2 visa holder has to obtain a different type of visa or return to his or her home country or any other state otherwise. The most widespread practice is obtaining a student F1 visa.  

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: Tax advantages of the E-2 visa

EB-5 investor’s green card: As the US green card holder has to spend a considerable amount of time in the country, he or she will inevitably have some tax obligations in the States.

These obligations will be even stronger when the green card holder obtains full citizenship of the USA. As a matter of fact, many Americans nowadays seek to renounce their citizenship due to tax reasons.

E-2 business visa: As the E-2 is a non-immigration visa, it does not entail any stringent tax obligations for the holder. Yes, you can work and live in the United States while paying less in taxes than a green card holder or a full citizen of the country. Please remember that the USA tax their citizens on their worldwide income. If you have an American passport, you have to pay taxes to the Federal budget wherever in the world you earn a profit.

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: The main (dis)advantage of the E-2 visa is that it does not lead to the US citizenship

EB-5 investor’s green card: A successful applicant for the EB-5 visa receives an American green card and a permanent residence permit. He or she enjoys all the rights and freedoms that green card holders have access to. In particular, the person can freely move around the States, do any kind of business, hold almost any kind of job, and attend any educational institution.

After five years of holding the green card, the investor is entitled to file an application for full citizenship of the USA. 

E-2 business visa: This visa can be infinitely prolonged on the condition that the business that the visa holder started keeps on functioning. At the same time, the visa holder cannot become a full US citizen. Some investors see it as the main disadvantage of the E-2 visa.

Even if you have lived in the USA for 20 years, created several hundred jobs, and paid millions of dollars in taxes, the E-2 visa does not entitle you to apply for citizenship. When you sell the business or retire, you must leave the territory of the United States immediately as your E-2 visa will be valid no more.

This means that if you do want to become a full citizen of the United States of America (which you probably do not), you have to obtain a different visa that can lead to the green card acquisition and ultimately to full citizenship of the USA. 

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: The E-2 visa is many times more popular than the EB-5 visa

Notwithstanding the disadvantage described above, the popularity of the E-2 program is immense. According to the USCIS, over 75,000 people arrived to the USA on the EB-5 visas in the last decade. It cannot be denied that this is an impressive number.  

However, more than 360,000 people entered the USA on E-2 visas over the same period of time. Over the last two years, the number of E-2 visa holders has exceeded that of ED-5 visa holders by approximately 420%.

The EB-5 program has been able to attract more than 29 billion dollars in foreign investments during the last ten years. E-2 program participants bring less money each but their larger number means that they supply as much money to the American economy or even more, according to some estimates.

As far as the nationalities of E-2 investors are concerned, the Japanese have filed about 30% of applications for this visa type over the recent decade on average. Germans have been the second largest national group of investors filing approximately 10% of the total number of applications. The rest of the E-2 visas have been obtained mostly by Canadians, the British, the French, South Koreans, Mexicans, Italians, Spaniards, and the Taiwanese.

Citizenship by investment in Grenada and access to the USA: Proceed from your personal goals and keep the alternatives in sight

Even though the American E-2 visa program has multiple advantages, it is not ideal just like any other visa program in the world. It may be the best choice for many investors but not for all.

Please remember that there are other US visa programs that may better suit your personal goals, desires, possibilities, and so on. So, if you want to move to the USA, there are several different routes that you can take.

Besides, please keep in mind that there are some countries in the world that can give you a ‘backdoor’ access to the United States if this is the country of your dream. Apart from Grenada in the Caribbean, you can acquire citizenship by investment in Montenegro in Europe or Turkey in Asia and thus gain access to the USA as well. There are alternatives and you should not forget about that.

Whatever choice you make, we will be happy to assist you in acquiring a second passport and citizenship of a foreign country in exchange for a donation to its Government or an investment into its economy. Over a dozen countries today offer such opportunities. What is more, you can become an economic citizen of many countries without even leaving your place of residence. This possibility should be especially valuable with the view of the coronavirus epidemic that is spreading currently. You can diversify you assets without having to put yourself to extra risks id you seek our assistance.

If you have any questions that you would like to ask before placing a service request with us, please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail [email protected]. Please use the same address to request our services. The current situation reminds all of us that we do not know what future has in store for us.

Does the USA E-2 visa program have any national quotas?

Unlike with many other US visa programs, there are no national quotas with the E-2 visa program. However, it is not the case that citizens of all countries of the world qualify for an E-2 visa. Only the citizens of the countries that have made a special agreement with the United States can apply for an E-2 visa. Grenada is one of such countries.

How large an investment do I have to make in order to qualify for an E-2 visa?

The precise amount of investment that you have to make when obtaining an E-2 visa is not specified in the US legislation. All it says is that the investment has to be ‘substantial’. Now, how substantial the investment is will depend on many factors including the sector of economy you are putting money in, the geographical location of the intended business, the state authorities’ economic development preferences, and so on. Normally, you have to invest between one and five hundred thousand US dollars into the American economy to qualify for an E-2 visa.

I am a citizen of Grenada and I would like to live and work in the USA. Should I apply for an E-2 visa or rather for a green card?

This depends on your preferences. A green card will ultimately lead to full US citizenship in most cases but the status has both benefits and detriments. In addition to that, a green card is much more difficult to acquire than an E-2 visa. If you want to engage in a small business in the USA being a Grenadian citizen, obtaining an E-2 visa will suit your purposes. If you want to become a full citizen of the USA after a few years, then apply for a green card.