John Burson 
edited Friday, March 1, 2024

The U.S. doesn't actively lobby other nations to accept American millionaires as migrants, nor does it specifically promote sending high-tech workers abroad. However, interestingly, India seems to be pursuing a strategy to facilitate the migration of its wealthy and skilled workers to other countries. A recent example of this is India's discussions with the U.S. to gain "treaty country status." This status would allow Indian investors to apply for E-1 and E-2 nonimmigrant visas, making it easier for them to invest in U.S. businesses and potentially pave the way for permanent residency through the EB-5 investor visa program.

Currently, the E-2 visa program, a nonimmigrant visa for investors, is only available to citizens of countries with a treaty with the U.S. India is not on this list but is seeking to change that. The E-1 visa, on the other hand, is for treaty traders. These visa programs are managed by the U.S. State Department and are separate from the EB-5 program, which is handled by both the State Department and Homeland Security.

Indian investors, especially those affected by long wait times for India EB-5 visas due to per-country caps, could benefit from this change. They could obtain E-2 visas to legally stay in the U.S. while waiting for their EB-5 visas.

Why would India encourage its millionaires to leave? Several reasons are possible. Firstly, wealthy individuals often have the freedom to move as they wish. Secondly, a densely populated country, India has historically encouraged emigration of various skill levels, including low-tech workers in the Middle East and high-tech workers in the U.S. and Canada.

A third, more speculative reason relates to the politics of the Modi administration. Many of the H-1B visa holders from India (high-tech workers in the U.S.) come from the southern regions, where Modi’s party is less prevalent. Their emigration might weaken the political opposition in these areas while they continue contributing to India's economy through taxes.

In conclusion, while India's strategy might make sense for its interests in India's EB-5 Race, the implications of expanding the U.S. E-1 and E-2 visa programs, which are less strictly regulated, deserve careful consideration. These visas are temporary but can be easily renewed, which might lead to longer-term stays.

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