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April 11, 2023

New Domicile Rules: USCIS Requires Indian Citizens Seeking E2 Business Visa to Meet New Eligibility Criteria

The United States of America is a highly sought-after destination for Indian citizens, whether it is for non-immigrant visas such as B1/B2 visitor visa, F1 student visa, J1 visa, H1B visa for professionals, or immigrant visas such as F1, F2, F3, or F4 under family class and employment-based visas such as EB1, E2, EB3, EB4 and EB5. Recently, the E2 business visa has gained popularity among Indian businessmen.

The E2 business visa is available to citizens of treaty countries with the USA government. Unfortunately, India is not one of the treaty countries, so Indian citizens cannot apply for the E2 business visa directly. However, if an Indian citizen is a citizen of a treaty country, they may apply for an E2 business visa. The E2 business visa was created to ensure a balanced mix of businesspeople from treaty countries that are underrepresented in the USA.

Over the last few years, many Indian citizens have obtained citizenship from other countries such as Grenada and Turkey, which allowed them to apply for an E2 visa. These residency and citizenship programs were heavily promoted in India and other countries as a backdoor entry to the USA as a businessperson. However, the US government has realized the increase in E2 business visa petitions from countries such as India and China. In order to address this issue, the USCIS has introduced three domicile requirements.

As of December 23, 2022, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was amended to define the eligibility criteria for E visas. For all E-1 and E-2 filings received on or after December 23, 2022, USCIS may request additional documentation related to how the applicant obtained treaty country nationality to ensure compliance with the amended language.

In addition, for those individuals who obtained treaty country nationality through a financial investment, USCIS may require additional documentation to show that the applicant has been domiciled in the treaty country indicated in the application for a continuous period of at least three years at any point before applying for E-1 or E-2 classification.

In US immigration, domicile refers to a person’s permanent home or legal residence. It is the place where a person intends to remain indefinitely and to which they plan to return after any period of absence. Domicile is an important factor in determining a person’s eligibility for certain immigration benefits, such as citizenship and permanent residency. To establish domicile, a person must have a physical presence in the United States and demonstrate an intention to make the US their permanent home.

In summary, if you are a citizen of a non-treaty country such as India or China with the USA for E1 and E2 visas, and in the past have received citizenship of a treaty country to eventually apply for E1 and/or E2 visas, you may apply for the same after showing three years of domicile in those countries.

As an Indian citizen, you have alternative options such as investing in a NEW business of your friends or relatives or purchasing a NEW franchise that can create a minimum of 10 new jobs in the USA for US citizens and green card holders to apply for the EB5 visa.

Ajmera Law Group is an experienced immigration lawyer in India with over 30 years of expertise in assisting business people in applying for investor and business visas for over 20 different countries, including the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and various European and Caribbean countries.

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