Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP
A number of years ago, our office was chosen as the North American regional representative office of the Geneva-based Investment Migration Council. Subsequently, I was selected to be on the Governing Board of that organization. I did not know at that time that investment to acquire citizenship in other countries would become an important part of my U.S. immigration practice. It has. Here is why:
Fact: Acquiring citizenship by investment in Grenada (and soon a second country) can enable nationals of countries that do not have a bilateral investment treaty with the U.S. to obtain the coveted 5-year renewable E-2 treaty investor visa. Since the spouse of the E-2 investor can work anywhere without sponsorship, having an employee’s spouse be the principal investor can be an immigration strategy for an existing or prospective employee.
Fact: The Trump Administration’s Muslim travel ban does not apply to dual citizens of a banned country and another country. Obtaining dual citizenship by investment in any of ten countries can enable nationals of such banned countries who are in the U.S. studying; working at our companies, universities and hospitals; applying for EB-5 immigrant status; and otherwise lawfully residing in the U.S. to be able to travel, which they are presently unable to do. It also enables such individuals who are presently outside of the U.S. to enter the U.S.
Fact: Many foreign nationals in the U.S. running businesses, employed in companies, teaching, doing research or providing medical services at our universities and hospitals, and even U.S. citizens, are burdened by having passports that do not allow for visa free travel to many countries around the world. Obtaining citizenship by investment may greatly expand the ability of such foreign nationals and U.S. citizens to travel the globe visa free.
Fact: Recent developments in the U.S. have created a degree of discomfort among certain groups of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who feel increasingly uncomfortable or unwanted in the U.S. because of their race, religion, ethnic background, immigrant background or political views. Some of such individuals are exploring having an alternative country of citizenship or residence through investment; so that they can relocate on short notice if their concerns heighten in the coming months or years.
We are presently advising and representing clients in each of these categories. In advising our clients, we have to evaluate multiple third country citizenship options and sometimes third country residence options based on investment. In performing these analyses, we have to consider at least the following criteria, all of which vary country by country and each of which has a priority that differs for each client:
- Does the country offer citizenship or just residency?
- What is the minimum investment amount? (The range is from $100,000 to in excess of $2 million)
- What type of investment is required? Is the investment a donation with no expectation of return? Is the investment in a residence? Is the investment in a government bond? Is the investment in commercial property?
- What is the processing time required to obtain the benefit? (The range is between a few months and periods in excess of one year)
- What are the residence requirements? (In some countries there are no residence requirements; in other countries there are lengthy residence requirements)
- What are the tax benefits or obligations?
- Does the passport offer visa free travel to many countries? (Many third country passports offer visa free travel to in excess of 120 countries, including many countries for which U.S. citizens do not have visa free travel opportunities)
- What family members are included? (This varies by country and sometimes includes even adult children and parents of the applicant)
- How extensive are the due diligence, source of funds and security clearance issues?
- Does the country have a bilateral investment treaty with the U.S.? (Presently only one citizenship by investment country – – Grenada – – has such a treaty, although one or more countries with treaties will be added to that list in the near future).