The United States remains the number one destination for people around the world, both for investments and as a place to live, work, and gain higher education. The USA is home to the top three universities globally according to the QS World University Rankings 2020 and it is seen as an attractive investment proposition, especially when compared to emerging markets and developing economies (EMDE) following COVID-19.
In a June 3 post, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said, “About half of all low-income countries were considered in debt distress or at a high risk of debt distress even before the crisis, as assessed by the IMF’s Debt Sustainability Framework. Partly reflecting these constraints, the total discretionary fiscal response to the shock has been lower (although still sizeable) in both emerging market and low-income economies at 2.8 and 1.4 per cent of GDP respectively in extra spending and tax reductions, compared with 8.6 per cent of GDP in advanced economies.”
However, sweeping changes at the end of last year raising the minimum investment required for a US EB-5 Green Card from US$500,000 to US$900,000 (or $1.8 million if you invest outside a high unemployment area), prices it just out of reach for many families. It is also a process that can take the better part of a decade to complete for certain nationalities.
Citizenship by investment
So where should would be immigrant investors look instead? Tucked in among the Caribbean islands sits Grenada – a stand-out performer among citizenship by investment programmes. Citizen by investment is a process where foreign investors can gain citizenship to Grenada and therefore the opportunity to gain residency to the United States. Not only does Grenada’s scheme offer after thorough due diligence on applicants, expeditious processing and reasonable fees, but it also has a proven track record of investors being able to secure US residency.
Grenadian citizenship also provides investors with the widest visa-free travel benefits among the comparable options, with more than 130 countries including the UK, Schengen, China and Russia.
Moreover, it is also the only Caribbean citizenship by investment jurisdiction whose passport holders are eligible for the United States E-2 visa. As a result of US invasion of the small Caribbean island in 1983, Grenada and the United States entered into a Treaty of Trade and Commerce which authorised Grenadian citizens and their families to invest and reside in the US under the E-2 visa programme.
Mohammed Asaria, the Managing Director of Range Developments, an authorised developer for a Government-approved real-estate projects, has assisted over 1,600 families from across the globe with their citizenship by investment journeys. Range Developments is currently developing the Six Senses La Sagesse resort in Grenada. Asaria’s business has an affiliated presence in the UAE through Range Immigration Services.
To secure Grenadian citizenship, investors must first invest US$220,000 (plus Government fees based on the composition of the family) in a Government-approved real-estate project and apply for citizenship of Grenada. Once completed, they invest in a viable business, file a US E-2 application at the US consulate, and obtain an E-2 visa in around six weeks.
While some investors are content with the safety net that second citizenship accords in Grenada, others, will look to parlay their citizenship to residency in the US. “Citizenship of Grenada provides the opportunity to access and migrate to the US, the world’s largest economy, in a very expeditious manner, in addition to providing the insurance of a second citizenship in times of stress,” says Asaria, a developer of award-winning luxury hotel projects in the Caribbean, including the Park Hyatt St Kitts and the Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski in Dominica. Range is the only company which has successfully built and delivered luxury hotel resorts in the Caribbean under the relevant country’s citizenship by investment programmes.
The adantages of the E-2 visa
Robert W. Kraft, President of Invest in USA’s (IIUSA) Board of Directors says that Grenada’s E-2 visa has distinct advantages over the other citizenship programmes, “The Grenada programme is relatively inexpensive in comparison to other programmes,” he says. “And to top that you can go through the Grenada programme, file for E-2 and be living in the United States in under a year.”
The E-2 programme requires that the investor be at least a 50 per cent owner of the US enterprise, but many investors, while savvy in their own countries, often don’t understand how to go about obtaining permits and dealing with other complications such as US HR obligations. Kraft’s company, FirstPathway Partners, who has specialised in securing US visas for over a decade, assists investors in owning a popular franchise restaurant chain called Teriyaki Madness, facilitating their necessity to invest in a business in the US without the operational nuisances of launching an independent venture. “Instead of making a lot of expensive mistakes, we take care of all the details, freeing you up to develop and direct the business from an ownership level and get your family settled in the USA.”
“Those who are seeking a safe haven are waking up to the idea that it [Grenada] is an affordable option, with an arrangement where you can get an E-2 visa and start a new life,” Asaria continues. “I could open a business in San Diego and move my family there within six to nine months.”
Aside from the main applicant, an E-2 applicant’s spouse and children below the age of 21 may also be granted E-2 dependent visas. The dependent spouse can obtain authorisation to work anywhere in the United States while E-2 dependent children study in the US free of charge through high school and even have the opportunity to enjoy in-state tuition fee rates at public colleges and universities. In addition, the E-2 is a non-immigrant visa, so the investor may not automatically fall into the remit of the US worldwide taxation system.
Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), who are concerned about new tax regulations in India, currently enjoy a favourable tax status because their global earnings are not liable to tax in India. However, this may change at the beginning of the next financial year on April 1 with the threat of a citizenship-based taxation and the imposition on inheritance tax. Grenada, could offer a solution for this as well.
Once the Six Senses opens, it will feature 100 rooms, set in 29 acres of the finest beachside landscape in the Caribbean. It is a project that Asaria is confident will benefit any investor looking to obtain second citizenship and then consider migrating to North America.
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