US bill would allow Israelis to apply for E-2 Treaty Investor visas

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A member of the US House of Representatives has introduced a bill that would allow eligible Israelis to receive non-immigrant E-2 Treaty investor visas in the US. Under current law, Israelis are ineligible for the E-2 treaty visa. The E-2 Treaty Investor visa, allows foreign investors to temporarily live and work in the US in their US based business.

If passed, the bill would allow Israelis who invest in a new or existing business in the US to reside and work in the US with their families. The US E-2 Treaty Investor visa is valid for two years and can continue to be extended indefinitely as long as the visa holder still meets the requirements for Treaty visa status.

Rep. Howard Berman introduced the legislation last week and it is being supported by several other Representatives who are part of the Foreign Affairs Committee as well as Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee's immigration policy subcommittee.

Currently, citizens of nearly 80 countries can apply for the E-2 Treaty Investor visa. These countries include the UK, Australia, Ireland, and Germany.

"Israel is one of our closest allies in the world and a significant investor in the US economy. My legislation will encourage Israeli business leaders to invest in the United States and lead to the creation of jobs for American workers," Berman said. "The E-2 investor visa program will strengthen the vital US-Israel relationship, boost the American middle class, and help grow the economies of both countries."

In order to be eligible for the E-2 Treaty Investor visa applicant must:
  • Be a national of a country that the US has a treaty of commerce and navigation with;
  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a new or existing US business;
  • Be seeking to enter the US solely to develop and direct the US business. This is established by showing at least 50 percent ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position.
Once the E-2 Treaty investor company is registered it is easier to bring in executive or supervisory level employees or bring in employees with special skills and qualifications. Employees will also have to be Israeli nationals.

According to Rep. Berman's office, although the bill does not explain what constitutes a "substantial amount of capital," the State Department has applied a proportional formula that looks at whether the investment is enough to ensure the establishment and growth of a business.

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