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How to travel or move to the USA

Trips to the USA generally require a US tourist visa. Having a second passport makes it easier and faster to get a visa, and it will be valid for longer. See how investors can quickly get to the States and when they can do it without visas.

Malta citizenship

Investments: €690,000+
Obtaining period: 1+ years

Entry to the USA. Maltese citizens can visit the USA without visas for up to 90 days. All they need to do is obtain permission in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

Investors with a Maltese passport can get 10-year B-1/B-2 visitor visas. You won't need an ESTA for your trip if you get it.

Opening a US bank account is possible even if you do not permanently live in the country. However, the choice of banks will be limited as not all financial institutions work with foreigners.

One must visit a bank branch with an international passport and another identity document, such as a driver’s license or a national passport. Another requirement is to provide a postal address. Note that the address of the hotel you stay in won’t do. But you can rent a post office box.

How to get an ESTA. Completing the ESTA application takes about half an hour. You will need a passport, a valid credit card, information about the place of work, and contacts.

The application is usually considered quickly: the system answers almost immediately. But the US Department of Homeland Security recommends applying at least three days before travel.

ESTAs are valid for two years. You can make as many trips to the States as you like during this time, and each trip must take at most 90 days.

You cannot switch from an ESTA to a visa in the USA. To get a visa, you have to leave the country.

How to get a US tourist visa. You can apply to any US consulate or embassy by:

You need to make an appointment in advance to get in line. The waiting period usually is two to four weeks, but it may increase due to the geopolitical or epidemic situation.

Maltese citizens get 10-year US visitor visas, allowing them to spend up to 180 days a year in the USA as tourists. One cannot work, take long-term courses, or do business in the country.

You can switch from a B-1/B-2 visa to another in the USA. For example, you can get a student or work visa.

Grenada or Turkey citizenship and an E-2 visa to the USA

Investments: $150,000+ to get a passport and $100,000+ for a visa
Obtaining period: 4+ months for a passport, 15+ days for a visa

Entry to the USA and living there. Grenada and Turkey have trade and navigation treaties with the United States. Therefore, citizens of these countries can get E-2 business visas, which are unavailable to citizens of many other countries.

The E-2 visa allows you to do business and live in the USA. A spouse and children under 21 can get visas, too. Grenada and Turkey citizens qualify for 5-year visas subject to extension an unlimited number of times while the business is running and making a profit.

Obtaining an E-2 visa requires investing in a US company. The investor must take an active part in the management of the business. The law doesn’t establish the minimum investment amount, but it must be significant relative to the company value. Visa applicants usually invest at least $100,000.

The visa is issued within two months. One can speed up the application processing for an extra cost and get a response in 15 days.

The E-2 visa is non-immigrant: it does not lead to citizenship. You can switch to an immigrant visa anytime if you want a US passport.

Caribbean and Vanuatu citizenship

Investments: Investments: $100,000+
Obtaining period: 2+ months

US tourist visas with Caribbean passports. Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia get B-1/B-2 visitor visas valid for up to 10 years. They can spend up to 180 days a year in the States.

The US Embassy in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, and other US embassies and consulates accept visa applications.

US tourist visas with a Vanuatu passport. Citizens of Vanuatu get 5-year B-1/B-2 visitor visas. You can make an appointment for an interview at the US Embassy in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, or another US embassy or consulate.

Summary: how to ensure a quick passage to the USA?

  1. Obtain Malta citizenship to travel to the USA visa-free for up to 90 days. To enter the States, Maltese citizens get electronic travel authorisations a few days before the trip.
  2. Obtain Turkey or Grenada citizenship and an E-2 visa. This option is suitable if the investor plans to do business in the USA and move there in case of danger or emergency.
  3. Obtain Caribbean citizenship and a 10-year US tourist visa to spend up to 180 days a year in the country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a US tourist visa B1 or B2?

B-2 is a tourist visa in the US. It allows you to travel for a short-period of time in the country.

B-1 is a business visa that gives an opportunity to do business activities such as holding meetings, negotiating contracts, participating in conferences and contests, etc.

How long is a US tourist visa valid for?

It depends on such factors as your citizenship and the duration of your trip. For example, Vanuatu citizens get B-1/B-2 visas to the US for 5 years, citizens of Dominica and Grenada can obtain one for 10 years.

How can I get a US tourist visa?

Rules for applying for a US tourist visa may vary depending on your citizenship and the US consulate where you apply. Usually the process consists of the following steps:

  • completing online the nonimmigrant visa application form DS-160;
  • paying an application fee;
  • schedule an interview;
  • come to the embassy on the chosen date. You must bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, your DS-160 confirmation page, one photo taken within the last six months and your current and all old passports.

It is also a good idea to bring supporting documents:

  • proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership;
  • proof of your travel plans such as booking at the hotel, plane tickets, etc;
  • letter from your employer with information on your position, salary, period for which you’re working for the company.

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Let’s discuss the details

Schedule a meeting at one of the offices or online. A lawyer will analyze the situation, calculate the cost and help you find a solution based on your goals.

Zlata Erlach, Caribbean Investment Program Expert
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