Ukraine demonstration 12 November 2022
Support migrant centric journalism today and donate
Comments by Sanwar Ali:
Will Grenada in effect make it easier for “anti-Putin” Russians to gain citizenship. Will some of the other requirements such as verifiable source of funds be waived in practice? Many Russians living in Russia may have difficulties leaving the country. Russians who benefit from this program may in practice be those who have assets outside the country.
There has been a great deal of controversy about these quick citizenship by investment programs. Many people have gained citizenship who have somewhat dubious backgrounds.
Many thanks to Support Ukraine London and the photographer Dima Malenko for providing the photo for this news report.
A report published by Business Insider claims that rich Russians opposed to Putin’s war with Ukraine are being offered a route to US E2 visas by applying for Grenadian passports. According to the article, five days after Russian President, Vladimir Putin, announced a partial military mobilization, citizens opposed to the war sought a way out of Russia.
Dubbed ‘little Switzerland’ Grenada has long offered a route to US E2 visas for the wealthiest people courtesy of its passport. Grenada is the only Caribbean country that has a bilateral agreement with the United States that gives its citizens access to the US E2 investor visa.
Grenadian citizenship has been described as an ‘affordable option’ for wealthy Russians and their families, providing a platform for them to apply for the coveted US E2 visa. Russians can become Grenadian citizens with an investment of $150,000.
Following Putin’s address to the Russian nation announcing his partial military mobilisation, Business Insider reports that thousands of Russian citizens without the means to afford Grenadian citizenship, and ultimately an opportunity to apply for US E2 visas, began booking flights to visa-free countries such as Armenia, Georgia, Turkey and Serbia.
Meanwhile, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Grenada initially prevented all Russian nationals from applying for its citizenship by investment program. However, the ban was lifted in July.
The CEO of Grenada’s citizenship by investment program, Karline Purcell, said: “The lifting of the ban made way for the enhanced scrutiny of Russian applicants.”
Business Insider reported on one particular investment opportunity that would enable wealthy Russians to secure Grenadian citizenship, referring to part ownership of the new InterContinental Grenada Resort, an IHG Hotels & Resorts development.
It’s understood that a stake in the development would cost $316,000. In exchange, investors would receive Grenadian family passports, with which, wealthy Russians could apply for a non-immigrant E2 visa.
A spokesperson for IHG Hotels & Resorts said: “The company adheres to the highest ethical standards and holds the same requirements for the parties it engages with.”
Getting a US E2 visa via Grenadian citizenship is considered cheaper, quicker and easier than alternative routes, which are often tied up in red tape or require countries to have long-standing ties with the US.
EB-5 immigrant investor visa
One of the more popular pathways to the US for investors has been the EB5 visa or ‘golden visa’. However, US entry via this route has been made more complicated in recent months with the US Embassy in Moscow suspending non-diplomatic visa services.
The US State Department has since designated the US Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, as the site for Russian visa appointments. However, Poland shut its borders to Russians in mid-September.
The Embassy’s website states, “Russian nationals traveling for a visa appointment need a Schengen visa to enter Poland, but the Polish government reserves the right to refuse entry.”
But even prior to the war in Ukraine, wealthy Russians found the US EB5 visa route to be by no means straightforward, with the process taking at least two years. According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), 20% of EB5 visa applications remain unresolved, even after 52 months.
Meanwhile, the Grenada shortcut can take as little as four months and is around 80% cheaper. Furthermore, once a Grenadian passport is secured, there’s technically no minimum investment requirement for a US E2 visa.
Number of E2 visa applications unknown
The number of US E2 visa applications made by Russians since the partial mobilization was announced by Putin is unknown. Business Insider reports that the US State Department has offered no updates on numbers since August.
E2 visas are typically valid for five years. However, they can be renewed an unlimited number of times.
Workpermit.com can help with US employment-based visas
If you would like to apply for a US work visa – including L1 visas, E2 visas, O1 visas and H1B visas - Workpermit.com can help.
Workpermit.com is a specialist visa services firm with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Contact us for further details. You can also telephone 0344 991 9222.