News that US president, Donald Trump plans to issue an executive order to perhaps bring in more restrictions for the H1B and L1 visa programmes has sparked concerns in Israel. Israelis wonder if there will be a delay in implementing the E2 visa program for Israelis by the US administration.
Following years of bureaucratic delays, the Israeli government recently sanctioned procedures that would hopefully meet US requirements to enable Israeli businesspeople, companies and their employees to receive visas to enter the United States. It was agreed that the E2 treaty investor visa would be made available to Israeli on June 11, 2012 by former US president, Barack Obama.
The agreement to give Israelis access to the E2 visa was made on the basis that Israel would offer a reciprocal visa for US citizens. However, years of administrative wrangling within the Knesset – Israel’s parliament – meant that Israel only recently declared its readiness to hold up its side of the agreement.
However, concerns have been raised over whether Trump will stick to an agreement to open the E2 visa programme to Israel that was made by the Obama administration, especially in the wake of the President’s possible plans to further restrict the H1B and L1 work visa programmes.
The E2 visa is issued to businesspeople, individuals deemed to have specialist skills and knowledge or work in management or a position of trust. The treaty investor visa programme should make it easier for Israeli companies, especially startups, to acquire US work visas where previously they would have struggled to do so. The E-2 Treaty Investor visa scheme allows entry to the US with a relatively low investment requirement.
Israel has nothing to worry about E2 Visas
A report published in Haaretz, an Israeli news publication, claims that Israel does not need to be concerned about Trump harming the E2 visa programme. The report said: “Obama signed this in 2012, in connection with legislation, not a presidential order.”
“Repealing the law would require turning to Congress. Israeli high tech has created more jobs in the United States than all of Western Europe has, and there is appreciation for this in the United States, so it’s not expected that Trump will harm the E2 visa programme”, the report added.
It’s understood that officials at Israel’s Immigration and Population Authority are waiting on a full response from the US administration about the introduction of the E2 visa program for Israelis.
Not to be confused with the EB-5 investor visa, which offers permanent residence; the US E2 visa is a non-immigrant temporary work visa. However, one of the key benefits of this visa type is that it can be renewed an unlimited number of times. There is also no annual quota on this type of visa and you can entry with a much lower investment compared to the EB5 immigrant investor scheme.
Despite the US and Israel agreeing a deal over the E2 visa, Israeli business leaders have questioned the value of attempting to set up a business in the US because of the restrictive US visa system.
Embassies and Consulates, US visa officials are under strict instructions to be ‘fair, flexible and final’ when assessing an E2 visa application. However, gaining an US Green Card (permanent residence) can be difficult. Meanwhile, visa officers at the US Embassy in Israel’s capital, Tel Aviv, already have the training and experience to deal with E2 visa applications.
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