Russians using Grenada for e2 visa access to US

Article Breakdown

Grenada Passport CoverFollowing Putin’s speech to the country on his partial military mobilization, thousands of Russians booked flights to visa free travel destinations on a Russian passport, such as Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, and Serbia.

Countries such as China and Russia do not have an E-2 Treaty investor visa with the United States, which means they cannot apply for an E-2 investor visa with their present citizenship.

As foreign nationals, Russians and Chinese can only apply for an E-2 visa if they have citizenship in a treaty country, which includes Grenada but excludes Russia. Grenada citizenship by investment is only a stopover on the way to a new life in America.

This dual citizenship option allows citizens from non-treaty countries to apply at the US citizenship and immigration services for the E2 nonimmigrant visa, after they obtain Grenada citizenship.

The Turkey Citizenship by Investment program is another option (Turkey also has an E 2 visa treaty with the United States), but that CBI program is significantly more expensive (400k Real Estate investment for a Turkish passport vs 150k donation for Grenada citizenship).

Total E2 Visa shortcut cost estimate

Estimating the total cost for this E2 visa shortcut by using minimum investment amounts for these investor visa options, here’s the breakdown:

  1. Grenada citizenship: $150,000 (minimum investment for donation option, real estate investment options start at $220k) – timeline 3-4 months
  2. US E2 Visa application: $150,000 (no minimum investment amount, but has to be a viable business idea with a substantial investment; the E 2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa valid for 5 years on a Grenada passport) – timeline: 6-8 months
  3. Total costs: $300,000+ (not including agent fees), timeline: 12 months.

This is significantly more cost effective (and less time consuming) than the US EB-5 visa, which is priced at $800,000 and a significantly longer waiting time, besides the fact that Russians cannot apply for EB-5 at this time due to sanctions.

Family members can be included on both applications (this does increase costs for the CBI option for the Grenada citizenship), and children up to 21 years old can be included in the E2 treaty investor visa.

Grenada passport holders that want to apply for the E2 treaty investor visa can still be rejected based on the business plan, source of funds, or other details in their application process. They will need to make an appointment at the US consulate for an E2 interview, where they will need to explain their business idea etc.

Grenada Country Landscape Photo

Russians initially barred from obtaining citizenship in Grenada

Russia Passport CoverAfter Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Grenada barred Russians from obtaining a Grenada passport through investment. The restriction was withdrawn in July and replaced by “increased vetting” of Russian applicants, according to Karline Purcell, CEO of the Grenada Citizenship Program, who added that only non-sanctioned Russians could apply.

According to IMI Daily, the CEO of Grenada’s Citizenship Committee, Karlene Purcell, revealed in July that applications from Russians are being approved once they are not on any current lists of sanctioned individuals, and are subject to greater scrutiny.

In March of this year, the Caribbean CBI countries suspended Russians and Belarusians at the same time. Grenada’s strategy is expected to be emulated by the four other CBI Caribbean states.

Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Committee has not issued any indications to the contrary since then, although a number of accredited agents have stated that Russians are now again being welcomed. None, however, were willing to go on the record, maybe because they did not want to speak out of turn so close to the country’s general election, which resulted in a change of administration.

Grenada lifts ban on Russian nationals

Ms. Karline Purcell, CEO of Grenada’s CIU, revealed to IMI Daily that the initial blanket ban on Russians and Belarusians was lifted approximately a month later, and that it was replaced with a more careful, extra-scrutiny approach to Russian applicants:

“Yes, we have admitted Russians and intensified our scrutiny of them. It is crucial to highlight that we only accept non-sanctioned Russians and that we examine each Russian candidate against regularly updated sanctions lists.”

She reveals that the five Caribbean CBI jurisdictions agreed at the regional diplomatic level in mid-March to act together to temporarily suspend Russians and Belarusians throughout the region. Purcell notes that, while it was unclear at the time which specific Russians and Belarusians were sanctioned because the lists changed significantly from day to day, CBI program officials were later able to take a more nuanced approach that did not discriminate against individuals solely based on their nationalities.

Purcell explains that the original set of Caribbean CBI unit circulars was a concerted collective move, but the careful reopening to Russians would come on an individual nation level, and only gradually.

She anticipates that further Caribbean CBI jurisdictions will reopen to Russians and Belarusians, but she cannot confirm this.

Grenada citizenship is one of the most transparent investment programs

Ms. Purcell, who oversees one of the world’s most transparent CBI systems, noted that, while she had received a number of anxious phone calls in the days following the election, she did not expect the country’s change in administration to affect CIU processing or the program’s overall continuity.

Grenada is the smallest Caribbean state, with a population of around 112,000 people – fewer than any of the 270 largest cities in the United States. Before attaining independence from the United Kingdom in February 1974, it was a French and British colony.

Grenada has become a popular destination for people looking to unwind at its lavish resorts and on the many superyachts that sail about its islands.

Russians rich enough to avoid military conscription and enter the United States have several possibilities. Some are lengthy processes; the Grenada technique is a quick fix.

Taking advantage of Grenadian citizenship as a short-cut

United States of America Coat of ArmsObtaining an E-2 visa through Grenadian citizenship is less expensive, faster, and easier than the alternatives, many of which require a long-standing connection to the US.

The EB-5 visa, also known as the “golden visa,” is one of the most popular routes to enter the United States. The suspension of nondiplomatic visa services by the US Embassy in Moscow has recently made it impossible for Russian nationals to apply for this visa.

The difficult aspect would be getting to the relevant consulate in order to have a real interview for the visa. Another challenge will be bank account access in case applicants still have their funds in Russian bank accounts (since these are all sanctioned, it will be close to impossible to use those funds for the e 2 visa or the Grenada citizenship program.

It is also important to note that the E 2 visa is not an immigrant visa, which means that it has to be renewed every x number of years (depending on the treaty country), and technically renewals can always be denied. In practice the E 2 visa usually gets renewed indefinitely as long as the business is profitable. But since it is a non immigrant visa, it does not lead to American citizenship like immigrant visas like the EB-5 visa eventually would.

Given the current sanctions and geopolitical situation, it is to be expected that the E2 Treaty between Grenada and the US could come under fire, unless Grenada starts rejecting Russians again.

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