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Rich Indians Eye Carribean Grenada As Wait For US Investor Visa Gets Longer


The queue of Indians seeking US green cards via the EB investors' visa has lengthened in the last three years, but so have the delays. Indians have begun seeking passports from the Caribbean island of Grenada as a way to fast-track their entry into the US.

Grenada is the new bolt hole for wealthy Indians seeking to get US residency.

The queue of Indians seeking US green cards via the EB investors' visa has lengthened in the last three years, but so have the delays. Indians have begun seeking passports from the Caribbean island of Grenada as a way to fast-track their entry into the US.

"Until recently, a total of 15 Indians had ever applied for Grenadan citizenship," says Mark Davies, CEO of the immigration law firm Davies & Associates. "This year alone, 32 have got Grenadan passports." Eighty per cent of these Indians have opted for EB-5 visas from the US as well. "They use Grenada as stopover place."

Wealthy Indians applying for EB-5 visas has spiked. In 2014, only 99 filed for such visas, investing a total of $49.5 million.

According to The Invest in US programme, these numbers jumped to 238 and $119 million in 2015. Davies & Associates estimates that in 2017 the number of Indian EB-5 visas filings was about 400, reflecting investments totalling $200 million (Rs 13 billion).

The state department figures show a similar jump in the total EB-5 visas issued to Indians, going from 96 in 2014 to 491 in 2017.

Getting a green card via the EB-5 process takes an investment of $500,000 plus about $80,000 in legal fees. The length of time to get a green card is nearly two years and getting longer.

To get a Grenadan passport, one has to invest between $100,000 to $400,000 in the island's real estate or National Transformation Fund. One can then invest as little as $100,000 in the US and get an E-2 US visa. "Getting a Grenadan passport takes about four months - largely because of a US state department check. The move to the US takes about two months," said a lawyer.

The primary reason for the increase in wealthy Indians seeking such visas is simply that other paths to US residency are being closed down or threatened by the Trump administration.

"Many wealthy Indians now ask how do I ensure my student son or daughter can continue to pursue their career in the US?" said an immigration lawyer. "Indians are simply wealthier as well and can afford the investment amounts."

Among the trends evident among Indians are a lot more EB-5 visa applications involving entire families. For example, said one source, nine members of one of the 300 richest families in India have applied together. Rupee depreciation and the stock market tumble have pushed more to make the jump this year. Financial professionals from Mumbai and Gurgaon, and techies in Bangalore, top the seekers.

"One of the advantages of a Grenadan passport is that while it is not the only country that can help you get into the US, it is the only passport that gets you visa-free travel to Russia and China as well," said Davies.

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