Legislation signed by US president, Barack Obama, on June 11, 2012 placed Israel on a list of nations eligible for non-immigrant E-2 treaty investor visas. After three years it seems that finally the E-2 Treaty Investor visa will be made available to nationals of Israel by the end of 2015. Israel will also need to create an equivalent visa that will enable US nationals and companies to invest money and live in Israel.
The legislation signed by Obama in 2012 was considered to be a significant sign of progress towards the goal of stronger commercial ties between the US and Israel. The E-2 visa will help facilitate increased economic and commercial interaction between the two nations.
The E-2 Treaty Investor visa situation as it stands
At present, Israel does not have an E-2 visa equivalent in place that would give US citizens the ability to invest and live in Israel. Therefore criteria for implementation of the treaty-based E-2 visa scheme are not being met.
Possibility of E-2 visas for Israelis before the year ends
There are now indications that Israel's lawmakers are preparing a reciprocal E-2 visa equivalent that will be made available to US nationals by the end of 2015.
The introduction of a new visa for US nationals has been delayed. The Israeli Government has had various issues to deal with including security related issues. Both nations are keen to make this happen and it seems likely that the E-2 treaty investor visa scheme will be available for Israeli citizens soon.
With an increasing number of commercial ties and combined technology development projects involving the US and Israel, any delays to the introduction of a new visa law in Israel will mean continuing difficulties for Israeli companies wishing to expand and access North American resources and talent.
The E-2 treaty investor visa is likely to be popular among Israeli technology firms, banks and service companies looking to send executives, managers and essential employees to the US. It will be welcomed since so much confidence has been lost in the American visa system due to the unpredictable outcome and strict rules when applying for the L-1 intra-company transfer visa.
Business leaders across every industry sector in Israel are currently questioning whether it is worth the effort setting up a business in the US, largely because of the overly difficult visa process.
However, with Israelis qualifying for E-2 visas, it would go some way to tackling those concerns. Once E-2 Treaty Investor registration has been completed the company is then able to apply for E-2 treaty visas for employees. The process of applying at Embassies and Consulates for visas is generally much faster and cheaper than applying for other types of visa at the USCIS in the US. At Embassies and Consulates US visa officials are under instructions to be 'fair, flexible and final' when assessing an E-2 application.
US Embassy in Israel ready to adjudicate E-2 visa applications
Visa officers at the US Embassy in the Israeli capital city, Tel Aviv, already have the training and experience to deal with E-2 visa applications.
It's expected that the US Embassy in Tel Aviv will issue a press release when the US and Israel have finalised all the details for the E-2 visa scheme, and the Israeli equivalent that will be available to US nationals. This may happen before the end of the year.