Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Ahmed Zalabany
Wealthy Russians Are Buying US Visas By Becoming Citizens Of Grenada
Russian citizens who are in opposition to the war in Ukraine have been searching for creative ways to escape Russia with their families. Back in September when Putin announced a partial military mobilization, inactive military personnel who opposed the war wanted to “get out of dodge.” The main reason the Russian president is involuntarily recruiting veterans and ex-military to serve in the war is his depletion of military resources, mainly manpower. Cue United Passport.
What is United passport?
United Passport is an organization that provides expedited passport and visa services to people across the globe. In a message to their 300,000 subscribers via Telegram, they offered Russians the perfect loophole to becoming American citizens during this time of need. Once again, leave it up to Americans to take advantage of another geopolitical situation. Once Putin made the announcement that he was basically “drafting” for the war in Ukraine, thousands of citizens were looking for places to relocate. Countries such as Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, and Serbia were their top choices since they wouldn’t need a visa to stay upon entry. However, many Russians showed interest in relocating to the United States.
“Grenada is called ‘little Switzerland,” was the message United Passport wrote to its subscribers on September 25th via Telegram. Through United Passport, Russians could become citizens of Grenada for $150,000. With citizenship, they can apply for an E-2 visa into the United States since they officially become documented Grenadians.
An insider who posed as a Russian who wanted to become a citizen of Grenada with an interest in living in the United States was able to fish out more information on how the process works. United Passport offered the insider a solution where they could buy into a new InterContinental Hotel project in Grenada for $316,000 and the insider and his family would get passports along with their share of the hotel.
Business Insider reached out to IHG Hotels & Resorts and they stated that their company, “adheres to the highest ethical standards and holds the same requirements for the parties it engages with.”
Grenada is known worldwide for being a hotspot for tourists to relax, enjoy the beaches, and sail. Russians that are wealthy enough to leave Russia have options but the Grenada plan would be the best shortcut.
Why Grenada Is The Strategy Of Choice
Acquiring an E-2 Visa through Grenadian citizenship is cheaper and quicker than any other option to get into the United States. The EB-5 Visa initially was the “go-to” for Russian investors to gain access to the United States but ever since the start of the war, the US embassy in Moscow has suspended access to visa services.
“The challenging part would be to be able to get to the appropriate consulate to have an actual interview for the visa,” Fadi Minawi, an immigration attorney and lead director of VisaPlace.
However, even before the war, the EB-5 visa took at least two years to get approval. “It may take years for that application to get through the process,” Minawi said.
The Grenada strategy would only take four months and cost about 80% less than the EB-5 route.
Problem This Causes
In most cases when acquiring a visa to move into the United States you must verify your proof of income. Russians going through Grenada for the E2 visa wouldn’t have to do as much verifying. Which leaves the door open to Russians who acquired their wealth through illegal activities.
“We shouldn’t be saying, ‘Sure, the moral imperative is we want to help these people flee Russia, but we’re only going to do it if you can invest,'” stated Gary Kalman, the executive director of Transparency International, an organization focused on illicit finance. “That’s not a humanitarian policy. That’s a policy that’s inviting in some of the wealthiest in Russia, many of whom may have gotten their money through ill-gotten gains.”
Kalman expressed that Russians with that kind of wealth who can afford a “shortcut” could most likely be oligarchs who gained their money via “sweetheart deals.” And that it could be “highly problematic” for immigrants to be able to buy their citizenship in the United States.”