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.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to advise on options and strategies for investors to live and work in the United States.