The long anticipated implementation of a law enacted on June 8, 2012, will soon allow citizens and nationals of Israel to apply for E-2 Treaty Investor visas. This class of visa will allow nonimmigrant traders and investors from Israel to enter and remain in the U.S. to participate in trade or the management of a substantial investment. Part of the delay in implementing this law, “Public Law 112-130” which can be found on the USCIS website at the following link, https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/PUBLAW/HTML/PUBLAW/PL112-130.html, was because it required Israel to grant reciprocal types of investor visas to U.S. nationals. It now appears that Israel is close to completing its end of the bargain, which will allow for increased trade between these partner nations. Israel needs to make certain regulatory changes before the U.S. State Department can make a determination that Israel meets the “similarity of status” requirement included in Public Law 112-130.
In a recent liaison meeting with members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), representatives of the State Department reported that they anticipate E-2 visas will become available for nationals of Israel by the fourth quarter of calendar year 2017.
E visas are meant to encourage economic and commercial interaction between the U.S. and countries that have entered into treaties of commerce and navigation. These visas allow individuals to come to the U.S. to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology.
Treaty traders are individuals who want to travel to the U.S. to engage in trade between their home country and the U.S., and they may be approved for E-1 visas. Treaty investors may be issued E-2 visas to enter the U.S. to develop and direct the operations of a company or enterprise in which the individual has invested a substantial amount of capital.
Since the key element in E visas is the encouragement of trade between the U.S. and a treaty partner, the nationality of a business or individual investor is critical. The treaty trader or investor must possess the nationality of the country that has entered into a treaty with the U.S. For individual investors, their nationality is determined by the law of that county. For businesses, nationality is determined by the nationality of the individual owners.
For E-2 visas, investors must prove to the State Department that they have invested a substantial amount of capital in a real and operating commercial enterprise in the U.S. This investment cannot be marginal, meaning one that will only produce enough income for one person to earn a living. E-2 applicants must also show that they are in a position to develop and direct the enterprise. In order for an E-2 visa to be approved, the applicant must show that the investment was made from his or her personal assets, and that the funds are at risk and irrevocably committed into the enterprise.
Beyond the owners of a company, executives and essential employees may qualify for E-2 visas. It is important to demonstrate that employees applying for an E-2 visa will exercise sufficient control over the enterprise in the U.S., or that they possess special qualifications that make them essential to the operation and success of the company.
We will continue to monitor the rollout of E-2 visas for Israeli nationals and will alert our readers when they may begin scheduling E-2 visa interviews at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. Since planning ahead is important, especially when significant investments are involved, we are ready to counsel investors on the E-2 process now.