US E2 visa access for Indians through Turkish citizenship

Sanwar Ali comment:

Obtaining a Green Card is likely to be a difficult and lengthy process.   Green Card quota affect Indians the most; it takes many years for Indian nationals to gain a Green Card. 

In addition the EB5 Immigrant Investor scheme has become much more expensive since 21 November 2019 with the minimum investment requirement increasing from $500,000 to $900,000.   Therefore the E2 visa scheme looks a lot more attractive for many Indians.   However, Indians are not on the E2 Investor visa or E1 Treaty Trader country visa list.  They need to obtain another Citizenship, most likely from a Country that has a rapid Citizenship investment scheme.

There has been an increase in the number of Indian nationals applying for Turkish citizenship as a route to US E2 visas, according to reports. Under current US immigration laws, Indians are unable to access US E2 visas because India does not have a treaty trade agreement with America.

Increasingly, Indians and nationals of other countries are obtaining third-country nationality status with countries that have a treaty trade agreement with the US, and becoming eligible to apply for E2 visas on that basis.

Many Indians have recently obtained citizenship in Grenada through the Caribbean island’s citizenship by investment program, introduced in 2014. Grenada has a treaty agreement with the US and its citizenship by investment program is widely used to fast-track E2 visa applications as an alternative to applying for a US EB5 green card.

Indians who have applied for an EB5 visa face waiting more than 10 years to obtain one, resulting in many seeking alternative options to gain entry to the US.

Increase in Indians applying for Turkish citizenship

While many Indians opt for Grenadian citizenship as a route to US E2 visas, because of its proximity to America, Turkey has recently seen a spike in citizenship applications from Indian nationals.

Turkey is ideally placed between India and the United States, which appeals to Indian nationals. The Turkish citizenship by investment program offers Indian investors two paths to citizenship:

  1. A $250,000 investment in real estate.
  2. A maintained balance of $500,000 in a Turkish bank account for a minimum of three years.

The Turkish citizenship by investment program has no limit on the number of people that can apply.

Increase in E2 visas issued worldwide

According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data, more than 43,000 E2 visas were issued worldwide in 2019, representing a 5 per cent increase when compared with figures from 2018.

To access US E2 visas, Indian nationals must become a citizen of a country that has a treaty agreement with the United States. There are more than 75 countries on the USA’s treaty list, but Grenada, Montenegro and Turkey reportedly offer the fastest and most cost-effective route to citizenship by investment.

The Turkish and Grenadian programs require similar levels of investment. However, Montenegro is understood to be marginally more expensive, requiring a €100,000 donation to the government and a €250,000 investment in a development project.

In contrast to the US EB5 green card visa, the E2 visa has no cap or country quotas. The EB5 visa is only available to 700 applicants per country, per year, hence the reason that Indian nationals, among others, face more than a decade on the waiting list.

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