US E2 visa processing delays and L1 visa ban affect Israelis

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Israel

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Comments by Sanwar Ali:

Around the World a combination of restrictive policies by Donald Trump and the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic have severely limited entry to the US.   You can still apply for US work based visa petitions at USCIS service centers in the US, such as the L1 visa and O1 visa, and depending on the situation with the quota the H1B visa and H2B visa.   However, as US visa processing at US Embassies and Consulates is closed at the moment, if you are outside the US, you cannot in most cases apply for a visa.  There are limited exceptions for certain medical professions, those essential to maintain the US food supply chain, and those considered to be in the national interest.

It may still be worth applying for an O1 visa petition.  When US visa processing resumes at US Embassies and Consulates around the World you can apply for an O1 visa.  If you qualify to change status you can also apply to remain in the US on an O1 visa.   It may also be worth preparing your E2 visa application.   The O1 visa and E2 visa and certain other visas are unaffected by the Trump work visa ban.  The current delays for these visa categories are due to the coronavirus COVID-19 situation and not due to the work visa ban.

Amid the closure of the US embassy in Israel due to the coronavirus pandemic, access to US L1, O1 and E2 visas for Israeli tech startups has been frozen. L1, O2 and E2 visas tend to be used by Israeli tech startup firms looking to start a business in the US.

Continued closure of the embassy in Tel Aviv Israel is a blow for many tech startups, particularly those pursuing a US E2 visa. Israeli nationals only became eligible for the E2 visa two years ago, following a lengthy process.

New applications for E2 visas in Israel remain suspended because of the COVID-19 outbreak.  US President Donald Trump’s recent US work visa ban has further restricted Israelis and others from accessing other visas such as the H2B visa, H1B visa and L1 visa for entry to America.

US companies affected by Trump work visa ban

Trump’s controversial ban on US employment-based visas, including those in the H1B, H2B, J1, O1 and L1 visa categories, is likely to affect many multinational organisations who want to bring Israelis and nationals of other countries to the US. Israel has approximately 320 multinational research and development centers, some of which are in the US.

Most US visas are popular among Israelis for relocating, usually to live and work in the US at a branch of the company by which they’re employed.

According to a report published by Israeli news publication, Haaretz, “while Trump’s ban is a drastic change of approach toward foreigners, the main thing hurting relocations was the inevitable fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the US economy, not Trump’s visa suspension.”

However, Israelis and nationals of other countries who are already in the US on a valid visa, will not be affected by Trump’s ban.

Israeli tech firms affected by US visa situation

The Economy and Industry Ministry in Israel estimates that there are 1,200 Israeli tech firms with a presence in the US, most of them startups. Valid US visas currently used by Israeli startups in the O1 and E1 and E2 categories have not been impacted by Trump’s work visa ban.

However, new applicants in Israel have been forced to wait until the US embassy in Tel Aviv reopens.

Tech firms are expected to take the biggest hit as a result of the ban, most of which rely on H1B visas to employ specialized workers for niche jobs. Employees of international companies who were due to travel to the US on an L1 visa will also be stuck in their home country.

Restrictions on the H1B visa are likely to wreak havoc on tech firms, including Fortune 200 companies, many of which use the program to bring engineers, mainly from India, to the US on low salaries.

The ban on H1B visas is unlikely to have as much of an impact on Israelis as the country’s citizens don’t really make use of the program.

Big tech firms recruiting Israelis

In recent years, major technology firms like Apple and Facebook, have recruited more Israeli managers and engineers under the L1 visa scheme, which is reserved for professionals with specialized knowledge. Trump’s US work visa ban has been described as a ‘major blow for multinational companies with operations in Israel.’

Prior to Trump’s controversial proclamation, the US President’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ policy had already started to created problems for US tech firms with ties to Israel.

Workpermit.com can help with US employment-based visas

If you would like to apply for a US work visa – including L1 visasE2 visasO1 visas and H1B visas - Workpermit.com can help. 

Workpermit.com is a specialist visa services firm with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Contact us for further details.  You can also telephone 0344 991 9222.