USA Visa Routes through Citizenship by Investment Programmes

Apply for a US Visa through a Second Citizenship

Dr. Antoine Saliba Haig | Published on 07 Apr 2020 | Updated on 08 Apr 2020

USA Visa Routes through CBI img

There are several ways how an individual can apply for a visa to visit the United States of America. The visa category under which an application is submitted depends on a number of factors such as the nationality of the person applying and the reason why an application is submitted. 
There are certain visa categories which are open only to certain nationalities such as the E1 and the E2 visas. If an individual is not a national of a country falling under these categories, one can apply for citizenship through investment of one of these countries.  
US Immigrant vs Non-Immigrant Visas 
It is important to make a distinction between immigrant Visas & non-immigrant visas. Immigrant Visas are those issued to non-US nationals who intend to live permanently in the US, whilst non-immigrant visas are issued to non-US nationals wishing to enter the United States on a temporary basis for reasons such as tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work, study, or other similar reasons.  

E1 vs E2 Visa

As mentioned above, in order to apply for an E1 and E2 Visa, an individual needs to be a national of a Treaty Country. The main difference between the E1 and the E2 visas is that the E1 visa is a trader visa whilst the E2 visa is an investor visa. Both are considered as non-immigrant visas. These visas are only available to nationals of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with.  US law states that E1 visa holders must enter solely to carry on substantial trade and E2 holders solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he or she has invested. The E-1 non-immigrant visa allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the US solely to engage in international trade. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying company may also be eligible. To qualify for E1 classification, the treaty trader must carry on substantial & principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.  The E-2 non-immigrant visa allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. To qualify for an E2 visa, the treaty investor must be a national of a treaty country, invest a substantial amount of money in a US company and be seeking to enter the US solely to develop and direct the company.

What is a Treaty Country? 

The United States signed treaties with various countries, allowing for business to flow between borders. Countries which signed a treaty of commerce, navigation or trade with the US are known as ‘Treaty Countries’. Both visa categories require the applicant to adhere to a set of requirements. Upon fulfilling them, one would be able to receive a two-year visa which can be renewed for other periods of two years. Applicants can also be joined by their family members and employees required for the running of the enterprise.  

What is the ESTA visa? 

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Programe. The ESTA application can be done online prior to travelling to the US. Citizens of countries which benefit from the Visa Waiver Programme may gain entry to the United States through a travel authorization and can visit the for vacations or business trips for up to 90 days. Individuals from over 30 different countries qualify for travel authorization under the Visa Waiver Program. Countries on the list include many European Union members states such as Malta.  

Which Treaty countries offer Citizenship by Investment programmes? 

Turkey, Grenada & Malta offer citizenship by investment programmes. Turkey and Grenada are considered as Treaty Countries since Turkish nationals are allowed to apply for both the E1 and E2 visas. Nationals of Grenada can apply for the E2 Investor Visa whilst citizens of Malta are allowed to travel to the US under the ESTA Visa Waiver Programme.  

How can we Assist? 

Our Residency & Citizenship team can guide nationals of non-Treaty or ESTA countries on how to apply for citizenship by investment programmes of countries which offer easy access to the US. 

 


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Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti

Senior Partner, Tax & Immigration

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Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner - Corporate, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056422

Dr Antoine Saliba Haig

Legal Associate

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