As published on natlawreview.com, Tuesday 25 April, 2023.
A new federal law restricts foreign investors’ access to E visas by adding a three-year domicile requirement for investors who obtained their citizenship through Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programs.
Buried in the nearly 2,000-page National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), P.L. 117-263, signed into law by President Joe Biden on December 23, 2022, is a provision requiring E visa applicants who acquired their citizenship in an E-visa-qualified country by way of an investment to have been domiciled in that country for a continuous period of at least three years prior to applying for an E-1 or E-2 visa to enter the United States.
Section 5902 of the NDAA reads as follows:
(B) Modification of Eligibility Criteria for E Visas. – Section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(E)) is amended –
(1) In the matter preceding clause (i) —
(A) By inserting “(or, in the case of an alien who acquired the relevant nationality through a financial investment and who has not previously been granted status under this subparagraph, the foreign state of which the alien is a national and in which the alien has been domiciled for a continuous period of not less than 3 years at any point before applying for a nonimmigrant visa under this subparagraph)” before “, and the spouse ‘’; and….
This amendment undercuts the ability of countries with CBI programs (including Bulgaria, Egypt, Grenada, Jordan, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Turkey) to attract investment by offering the possibility of obtaining a United States E visa. It also makes it more difficult for citizens of countries that do not have E agreements with the United States to obtain a visa allowing them to move to the United States for trade or investment.
Persons who have previously been granted E-visa status are exempted from the new foreign residency requirement. Persons who acquired their citizenship in an E-visa country by means other than investment (e.g., through birth, marriage, or residency) are also not subject to the requirement.