Israelis wishing to invest significant funds or set up a business in the United States will be eligible to receive an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa from May 1, the US Embassy in Israel announced on Friday.
The E-2 visa allows a national of a treaty country, currently more than 80 states, to enter the US when investing a substantial amount of capital in an American-based business.
While an E-2 visa can be issued for a maximum period of five years, qualified investors are allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Extensions in increments of up to two years may then be granted an unlimited number of times. Employees and dependent family members may also be eligible for the same non-immigrant classification.
“The US Embassy in Israel is pleased to announce the implementation of the US E-2 Investor Visa for Israeli nationals, beginning May 1,” the embassy said in a statement.
“The E-2 visa is a temporary (non-immigrant) visa that can be used to develop, direct, or provide specialized skills to an enterprise in which the owner has invested a substantial amount of capital.”
A necessary condition of enabling the E-2 visa for all treaty countries is reciprocity, with US citizens already able to obtain a B-5 Israel Investor Visa.
According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a “substantial” investment is evaluated in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one; sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise; and of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise.
“These visas will lead to a new era in trade relations between Israel and America,” said Oded Rose, CEO of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce, which promoted the legislation together with the Interior Ministry.
“I believe this move will lead to cooperation between Israeli and American entrepreneurs, and to the prosperity of the Israeli economy.”
Once in effect, individuals or companies seeking E-2 visas for their employees will need to apply at the US Branch Office in Tel Aviv.
The Branch Office already accepts E-2 visa applications for Israelis who hold dual citizenship with countries that maintain a treaty investor agreement with the United States.
“As someone who has followed for years the process of legislating for work visas in general and the E-2 visa in particular, there is no doubt that this is the right solution for the hi-tech sector and Israeli entrepreneurs,” said Advocate Tsvi Kan-Tor, chair of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce’s Visas Committee.
“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.”