US E2 visa for investors officially open to Israelis

The US embassy in Tel Aviv has officially started accepting applications for E2 visas. Following years of delays, the US E2 treaty investment visa was opened to Israeli nationals on May 1, 2019, with the Israeli embassy in the US now accepting applications for a reciprocal visa for US citizens, known as the B-5 visa.  The E1 Treaty Trader visa has been available for Israeli citizens since 3 April 1954.

A near seven year saga, which started with former US president Barack Obama signing a piece of legislation back in 2012, has now been brought to a close after the US and Israel reached a deal.

Obama signed legislation that implemented a bilateral investment treaty with Israel, under the stipulation that the Israeli government agreed to a reciprocal immigration agreement for US citizens. However, it was two years before the Israeli government approved a reciprocal visa.

Access to the US E2 visa for Israeli nationals was delayed by a further four years, as the two countries tried to come to an agreement on the reciprocal nature of the visas.

E2 Treaty investment agreement commemorated

On May 6, a commemoration ceremony was held to mark the US-Israel treaty investment agreement.

Following the announcement that the US E2 visa and Israeli B-5 visa would be made available as of May 1, chair of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce’s Visas Committee, Tsvi Kan-Tor, said: “As someone who has followed for years the process of legislating for work visas in general and the E2 visa in particular, there is no doubt that this is the right solution for the hi-tech sector and Israeli entrepreneurs.”

“This visa has a variety of benefits that do not exist in other temporary work visas, including no requirement for an academic degree or experience, minimum wage or business seniority. In addition, the visa grants a work permit in the US to partners and allows residence outside the US,” Kan-Tor added.

Had previously been feared that the E2 treaty investor deal was dead

After seven years of wrangling and delays, combined with Donald Trump becoming US president, many feared any treaty investor deal between Israel and the US was dead.

In April 2017, the US Department of State (DoS) informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that Israel had failed to meet certain regulatory reciprocity requirements.

It was expected that the Israeli government would promptly revise the proposed regulations. Consequently, the DoS informed AILA that it anticipated E2 visas would be available for nationals of Israel by the fourth quarter of calendar year 2017, but this didn’t happen.

US E2 visa eligibility for Israelis

In accordance with US E2 visa rules, investors from Israel would be allowed to live and work in the US, initially for a period of two years, and could then apply for extensions in two-year increments.

In order to be eligible for the E2 Treaty Investor visa applicants 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.
  • Be engaging in duties at an executive or supervisory level, or have special skills or qualifications such as specialist knowledge of the organisation's products or services.

E2 visa for New Zealand

With Israel added to the list of countries eligible to access the US E2 visa, attention turns to availability of the treaty investor visa for nationals of New Zealand. President Trump signed the KIWI Act into law on August 1, 2018 – over nine months ago. It remains unclear when the E2 visa program will be open to New Zealand citizens.

Workpermit.com can help with E1E2L1, H1B and B1 in lieu of H1BB1 Business Visit VisasE3 Visas and other types of US Visas

For more information, or to find out if you are eligible for a US work visa, contact WorkPermit.com on 0344 991 9222.