A new visa category allowing Israeli business owners and investors to work and live in the U.S. has grown closer to becoming reality thanks to recent moves by both governments.
Last month, the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) Interior Committee granted U.S. citizens the right to obtain investor visas in Israel. This has paved the way for the implementation of the E-2 visa process for Israeli citizens seeking to invest in U.S. businesses. The E-2 is a treaty investor visa that must be granted under a reciprocal agreement signed by both governments.
The E-2 provides an immigration avenue to both individual investors and employees of companies who invest a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. This capital must be put at risk if the business fails, and it must also generate substantial revenues and jobs other than to the investor. This is a non-immigrant, temporary work visa, not to be confused with the EB-5 immigrant investor category.
In June 2012, President Obama signed legislation for implementation of an investor treaty with Israel, after Congress passed the law which would make Israeli citizens eligible for the E-2 investor visa. Earlier in March 2014, the Israeli government approved the measure in Israel but what was missing was the Israeli legislature’s approval of conditions for American citizens to obtain investor visas in Israel. The recent move by the Israeli Knesset is the last obstacle in the process.
There are many advantages for the E visa, including that there is no annual quota and it is not necessary for the visa applicant to have worked for the foreign entity for any length of time. The requirements include majority ownership of the U.S. company by Israeli nationals and that the visa applicant has Israeli nationality and possess a role of a primary investor, manager, executive or specialized-knowledge employee.
It is anticipated that both governments will finalize procedures and regulations and U.S. federal agencies will begin to accept E-2 visa applications soon for Israeli citizens. Likewise, American citizens that wish to receive investor visas in Israel will be able to do so now. This move is poised to help increase the trade, investment and economic cooperation between the United States and Israel.
Karen Weinstock is managing attorney of Weinstock Immigration Lawyers in Atlanta.