As H-1B Visas Face Uncertainty, Immigrants Seek Alternative Routes to the USA

The elections are finally over and Joseph Biden is preparing himself to be inaugurated as the next President of the USA. Barring any surprises resulting from the ongoing legal disputes and potential recounts, Democrats will have presidential authority although it is unclear at this time if the Democrats or Republicans will hold the majority in the Senate. This may raise more questions about changes that may affect the immigration landscape of the US.

One major point of discussion remains the highly demanded H-1B visa; initially suspended by the Trump administration it has undergone comprehensive overhauls this year. More than half a million H-1B visa holders reside in the US, and the majority of those are Indian nationals, making up 71.7% of all H-1B visa holders. These residents, along with any prospective applicants, are now in limbo and have no way of knowing what the future holds.

While the Democratic Party voices its overall support for immigration, the H-1B remains a point of uncertainty as Biden’s party has made promises to put new policies into effect, and reverse others. But it could take a long while before and such changes take effect. A policy document issued by the Biden campaign read:

“Biden will work with Congress to first reform temporary visas to establish a wage-based allocation process and establish enforcement mechanisms to ensure they are aligned with the labor market and not used to undermine wages. Then, Biden will support expanding the number of high-skilled visas and eliminating the limits on employment-based visas by country, which create unacceptably long backlogs.”

This statement brings along both hope and fear of the unknown, as it shows the new presidency will look into H-1B visas but may take its time in reversing Trump’s policies, let alone changing them completely.

As H-1B Visas Face Uncertainty What Can a Potential Immigrant Do?

This ambiguity encompassing the H-1B lead many immigrants with dreams of moving to the USA in particular, to consider alternative options of which the US has plenty. Some of the alternatives include the expensive and risk-prone EB-5 visa, the L1-A visa (which has one of the highest rejection rates globally), and the treaty E-2 visa. The latter is proving a great choice to businesspersons who can get their hands on it.

How Can an E-2 Visa Help?

The E-2 is a visa that is only available between the USA and citizens of specific treaty countries, the nationals of which can apply to come to the US on an E-2 visa by establishing their own business, and reside in the US along with their families. Applicants must prepare a business plan and supporting documentation.

The E-2, although classified as a non-immigrant visa, has been one of the most sought-after routes into the US in the past decade. Its simple requirements, quick processing times (priority processing can finalize a file within 3 weeks), and multiple benefits have made it a favorite worldwide.

There are two main drawbacks to the E-2. One, it is a treaty visa, which means it is not open to all nationalities. Two, it is only valid while the E-2 qualifying business is in operation and does not, in and of itself, offer a path to permanent residence. Yet, like every other matter in the world, there is a solution to that problem too, one which nationals of high-volume immigrant countries such as Brazil, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Venezuela, Vietnam and UAE can implement; second citizenship by investment.

Citizenship by investment (CBI) grants those who invest in particular countries a second citizenship and a passport. While citizenship by investment is an attractive proposition in its own right, when compounded with countries that offer CBI – such as Turkey and Grenada, nationals of which are eligible for 5-year multiple entry E-2 visas – you effectively get much more than just a second citizenship.

One more factor to keep in mind is that the E-2 visa has no minimum investment amount. The capital invested into the business should correspond to the type, size, location, and operations of the business; typical investment amounts range from US$100,000 to 250,000.

Add to this that investing in Grenada’s CIP starts at US$150,000 and that Turkey’s CIP begins at US$ 250,000, (a word of caution is needed here as it’s not simply about the money. You need to be aware of the difference between owning a property and/or making a donation and what effect that could have on your E-2 visa application.) and you’ll find you have a viable route to the USA that costs but a fraction of the amount required for the US$ 900,000 EB-5 program.

Both Grenada’s and Turkey’s CIPs require a processing time averaging 3-6 months, which means the entire process could take less than a year. There is also no set quota for the number of applications, removing any concerns of backlogs or delays in processing.

Considering all the benefits of the E-2, evaluating CBI participation as a conduit to that becomes important. Below, we discuss the major points of both Grenada and Turkey to help you make a decision.

Grenada Citizenship by Investment

The Grenadian CIP is simple, straight-forward, affordable, and quick. You have two investment options when it comes to the CBI program;

  • a contribution to the government’s National Transformation Fund, starting at US$ 150,000, or ;
  • an investment in an approved real estate project for US$ 220,000 – 350,000. If you choose the real estate option, you must hold on to your investment for five years before you re-sell.

The main advantages of getting a Grenada passport, in addition to becoming eligible for the E-2 of course, are:

  1. Greater Mobility: The Grenadian passport offers visa-free travel to 144 destinations worldwide including the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, China, and more.
  2. Expanded Family Composition: Adding many family members to a single application can prove extremely cost-effective and Grenada offers you the chance to do just that. The Caribbean Island allows you to add your spouse, dependent children below 30 years of age, dependent siblings, and both yours and your spouse’s dependent parents (and grandparents) aged 55 years or older. This structure is enough to encompass entire families in one application and one investment making Grenada an excellent option for larger families. 

Turkey Citizenship by Investment

The Turkish CIP does not provide the same mobility offered by its Caribbean counterpart, yet it still provides visa-free travel to 111 destinations worldwide. Family composition is also tighter, as an applicant can only add their spouse and children under age 18 to a single file.

The Turkish CIP provides investors with the chance to gain Turkish citizenship through six different investment types, five of which are set at half a million US$ and the last of which, the most popular option, is investing US$ 250,000 in real estate.

The Turkish CBI comes with a different set of advantages:

  1. Optionality in Real Estate: The Anatolian country is a massive one, housing more than 82 million people within its borders. The sheer size of Turkey, along with a plethora of large cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, provides investors with endless choices of real estate to purchase. It is crucial to keep in mind that you are free to purchase one or more properties in any region of Turkey to meet the USD 250,000 threshold, enabling you to create a strong investment portfolio in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
  2. Return on Investment: Turkey is the sixth most visited country in the world and you will find tourists scattered throughout the country year-round. Be it in the corridors of Istanbul, mountain-tops of Bursa, or the Aegean shores of Izmir; tourism never stops in Turkey. That means buying real estate in Turkey and renting out to tourists in USD (on Airbnb or otherwise) has the potential to make a profit and offer a solid annual return.

As more potential immigrants consider CBI as a route to the USA through the E-2 visa, it is crucial to understand the business landscape of the US; remember that you actually have to run a business and that, in the end, your goal should be to thrive, not just survive.

Choosing which business type offers the right mix of immigration opportunities and potential for profit is the most important decision in this respect. As most approved applications fall within the sectors of manufacturing, service industries and restaurant establishment, you may find yourself in familiar, and profitable territory. Nevertheless, the E-2 does not stop there, innovative ideas are welcome, as are businesses that generate jobs or target areas where their services are needed. The post-pandemic economic landscape of the USA will provide many with the chance not only to immigrate but also to make a tidy profit.

The sense that H-1B visas face uncertainty can now become an afterthought.

For immigrants in general, and the myriads of US-bound hopefuls in particular, the sense that H-1B visas face uncertainty can now become an afterthought. If you would like to know more about Grenada or Turkey as your route to the US, contact us today so we can help you begin your journey.