On May 1, 2019, the E-2 Treaty Investor visa became available for Israeli nationals. This long-awaited visa option will greatly benefit Israeli entrepreneurs or business owners who wish to invest in a new or established U.S. business. The E-2 treaty investor visa allows nationals of the treaty country to live and work in the United States to develop and direct the operations of a U.S. commercial enterprise based on a substantial investment in the business. Previously, Israeli nationals were only eligible for the E-1 Treaty Trader visa which requires a showing of substantial, ongoing, and continuous international trade between the United States and Israel, of which more than 50% must be between the two countries. The availability of the E-2 visa option for Israeli nationals has come after several years of negotiation between the United States and Israel for a reciprocal treaty agreement for investors or entrepreneurs. U.S. legislation to open E-2 treaty investor status to Israeli nationals was signed by President Obama in 2012 but was delayed until Israel provided similar investor status to U.S. nationals. It was not until June 2018 that Israel enacted regulations granting work permits to U.S. nationals based on investment in the country.
The E-2 visa is used by a wide range of foreign-owned companies, from small start-ups to publicly-traded corporations. To qualify for an E-2 visa, the individual or corporate entity must have the citizenship of a country that maintains a qualifying treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. If the investor is a foreign-owned company, at least 50% of the company must be owned by individuals who are citizens of the treaty country. While there is no predetermined amount of funds to be invested in the U.S. business, the investment must be “substantial” to ensure the successful operation of the business. The visa application documents require extensive financial and business records to establish that the treaty investor has invested in or is in the active process of investing funds into a U.S. business, and has placed funds at risk, in the commercial sense, into the E-2 enterprise with the objective of generating a profit. The E-2 visa is available to employees in executive, supervisory, or essential capacities who hold the same treaty country nationality. There are currently 82 countries covered by a qualifying treaty, although some countries are covered only under E-1 or E-2, but not both.
E-1 and E-2 visas are applied for at the U.S. consular post located in the treaty country. Israeli nationals may now apply at the U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv. The E visa is typically valid for 2 to 5 years and may be renewed indefinitely. Accompanying spouses will be eligible for an E visa regardless of nationality.
For further information on E-1 and E-2 visas, please contact our office.
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