US House Committee passes bill to allow Israelis to apply for E-2 Treaty Investor visas

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The US passed new legislation that would add Israel to the list of countries eligible for E-2 temporary foreign investor visas. The legislation was approved by the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee this week.

Representative Howard Berman introduced the legislation last month which was 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, there are 76 countries eligible for a US E-2 non-immigrant investor visa. Countries include: Albania, the UK, Australia, Ireland, and Germany, and the Ukraine. In fiscal year 2010, over 25,500 nationals from these countries including their dependents were granted E-2 visas.

Under the new bill, 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 E-2 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.
"The investments and business enterprises fostered by this bill benefit the economies of both the United States and Israel. And they also will create jobs and strengthen the already strong friendship between Israel and the United States," Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith stated.

It is still unclear when the changes will be put into action and when Israelis can begin to apply for the visa.

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