As an Israeli national, you can apply for an E2 visa to set up or invest in a company in the USA.
The E2 visa application process is complex and demanding on applicants. Before you can apply for an E-2 visa, either as an investor or an E2 employee, the company must first apply to be registered as an E2 treaty investor business.
You must also have already made investment in the US business prior to your E2 visa application – with no guarantees of success. This means professional advice is crucial to optimise your application for US entry clearance.
NNU Immigration are specialists in E2 visa applictions.
The application rules for the E2 visa program are complex. The E2 visa is particularly demanding in its eligibility criteria and requirements for supporting documentation, including submission of financial investment information and a solid business plan.
With specific knowledge and experience of the US Embassy in Israel – and across the globe, including London and Berlin – we offer the expertise, insight and guidance to take you, your company, your family and employees through the high-stakes E2 visa application process.
Speak to us about making your US plans a reality with an E2 visa.
Contact our E2 visa experts
For advice on making an E2 visa application, contact our US immigration attorneys.
Since May 1, 2019 , Israeli nationals have been eligible to apply for a US Treaty Investor visa, known as the E2 visa, to set up, or invest in, a company in the USA.
Foreign nationals will usually need a visa to set up their own company in the US. The primary route for foreign entrepreneurs and investors to do this is the E2 visa.
The E2 visa is a temporary work visa which allows the holder to live in the US to “direct and control” a US-based company.
E2 visa holders are only permitted to work for their E2 company, or any directly related company that forms part of the E2 company structure, while in the US. You cannot take up employment with another US company. You also cannot study full-time on a course that is not directly relevant to the E2 work. Only part-time study relating ot the E2 company’s line of work would be allowable.
The E-2 visa is a highly attractive classification for those wanting to live and do business in the US by purchasing an existing US-based company or setting up their own enterprise.
It offers the potential to advance Israeli-based business interests, investments and entrepreneurship into the US by making it easier for Israeli companies, their owners and key employees to obtain a US visa and for companies to bring talent to the USA.
The route is open to all sizes of business, from start ups through to multinationals, across all sectors.
E2 visa holders can be accompanied by their close family members.
As an E2 applicant, your spouse – which includes same-sex spouses – and unmarried children aged under 21 can apply for derivative visas to accompany you to the US.
There are no nationality requirements for E2 visa dependents.
E2 dependents can apply at the same time as the primary visa holder or after the primary visa has been granted.
If approved, they will be issued the same visa validity and number of entries as the primary visa holder.
Spouses with a derivative E visa can also obtain employment authorization, and are not limited to working for the E2 company, unlike the principal E-2 visa holder and any E-2 employees. Dependent children can attend school in the US.
If your family intend to visit you for vacations, and will not be relocating with you to the US, they should instead apply for the B1/B2 visitor visa.
E2 visas are typically issued to Israeli national investors for 2 years. Your permission to live and work in the US under the E2 will remain valid provided you continue to meet the visa requirements and maintain your status with the E2 company.
You can apply to extend your visa for successive 2-year periods, again, provided you continue to meet the visa requirements and that the E2 company is operational. Extension applications are made using Form I-539.
Dependents on derivative visas will be issued the same period of stay as the primary visa holder.
E2 employees can only stay in the US while their skills are necessary to operate the business, and while the E2 company owner can show either that US workers cannot be trained to duplicate the skills or that the owner is making reasonable efforts to train US workers as replacements.
Applicant nationality is just one of several requirements that must be met to qualify for the E-2 visa:
The investor must also show an at-risk personal, financial investment in the E2 company at a level substantial and sufficient enough to ensure the successful operation of the business.
The E2 visa requires you to have a valid Israeli passport. There is no requirement to prove residence there.
How much E2 investment is required will depend on several factors, including the E2 company’s industry and what is required for the company to become operational; for example, a consultancy practice will incur lower set-up and ongoing running costs compared with a manufacturing business.
As such, taking professional advice from an experienced E2 visa lawyer will help you to understand the level of investment the US authorities are likely to expect in order to satisfy the “substantial investment” test.
No, being an owner of property in the US does not afford you any visa or immigration rights.
To qualify for the E2 visa, your investment must be a real, active, commercial undertaking that constitutes personal financial risk for you as the E2 investor.
You must have already committed the funds or assets for investment before submitting your application. You will need to show that your investment commitment is real and irrevocable, such as funds being held in escrow for release on issuance of the E2 visa.
Fundamentally, the Embassy is looking for evidence that you have taken on personal financial risk in relation to the enterprise. An intention to invest is not enough to satisfy the E2 visa investment requirement. Likewise, you could not rely on uncommitted money available in a bank account or investments deemed prospective without commitment.
E2 visa applications in Israel are processed at the Branch Office in Tel Aviv.
The first stage is for the Israeli company to register for E2 company status. This involves submitting documentation to evidence that the trading entity or investment satisfies the Treaty Investor requirements under 9 FAM 402.9.
The supporting documents have to be sent by post to the US Embassy E-2 unit in Israel at the following address:
E1/E2 Visa Assistant
Embassy of the United States of America, Branch Office Tel Aviv
71 Hayarkon Street
Tel Aviv 6343229
After reviewing the submitted paperwork, the E-2 visa unit will arrange an interview for both the employer and any employees or family members.
The US Embassy in Israel imposes specific application requirements that must be met to avoid issues, delays or even rejection of your petition. The US Embassy is clear that incorrectly submitted applications will not be reviewed.
Both the content and the format of your supporting documentation must comply with the specific requirements imposed by the US Embassy in Israel.
E2 visa submissions can be no longer than 150 single-sided pages. This limit does not include the DS-160 form, DS-156E form, G-28 or pages that have been translated from Hebrew into English. It also does not include documents relating to your individual application, such as your birth certificate or CV.
The documents must also relate to the past year only.
In addition, submission and application documents must also be in English. Some exceptions can apply, where it’s allowable to rely on an original document in Hebrew with an English translation. Again, taking advice will ensure you follow the Embassy’s specific rules.
The supporting documents must also be arranged in a specific order using the Embassy’s prescribed tab system.
Given the breadth and scope of the documentation you will need to compile, it’s critical that your submission is comprehensive and correct.
Your submission should work to support statements in your covering letter and ensure key information and details are appropriately highlighted and emphasized while proving your eligibility under the visa requirements. You will also need to provide a thorough business plan.
It will be important to ensure the relevance of all documentation you submit, striking the balance between including everything – this is not seen as helpful for adjudication – and failing to submit sufficient evidence. Petitions can be delayed or even rejected on the grounds of failing to evidence adequately your eligibility.
Taking advice from experienced E2 visa lawyers will help optimise your application’s prospects of success.
During the E2 interview, you will be asked questions about your application and submission documents, to clarify any queries the consular officer may have about your business plan and eligibility to be granted an E2 visa.
After the interview, the consulate will communicate with the E2 company’s nominated point of contact if further information is required or to update on the status of the application.
One of the key characteristics of the E2 is that it is a temporary visa. It does not allow holders a direct path to US permanent residence.
E2 applicants must show as part of their application their intention to leave the US once their visa has expired or as soon as they no longer meet the visa conditions, such as ceasing to work for the E2 company.
How you prove this intention will depend on your circumstances, and taking professional advice is the best way to ensure you present the Embassy with sufficient evidence. For example, you may need to show you will retain your primary residence in Israel, or that you have large family and social ties to your home country,
E2 company registrations are currently taking more than 4 months to process in Tel Aviv.
Applicants are generally advised not to make firm business plans or travel arrangements based on their E2 visa until their application has been approved and their visa issued.
Israeli nationals are allowed to file their application at any E2 visa unit anywhere in the world, such as London.
This allows you the flexibility to attend the visa interview in the country you are currently residing.
If your application is approved, your passport will returned to you by courier within 10 days of the visa being approved.
E2 applicants will commonly need to visit the US to attend meetings, carry out fact-finding and make certain arrangements, prior to making their E2 application.
To do this, as an Israeli citizen you would need to obtain a B visa for business visitors.
The B1 visa allows you to visit the US temporarily for business-related purposes. However, importantly – it does not extend to allowing you to run your business while in the US, nor can you be employed or paid by a US business while in the US on a B visa.
If you are concerned about how you can develop and set up your US-based operations prior to receiving an E2 visa, we can advise.
For example, in most cases, you will be allowed to hire US-based workers with appropriate employment authorization, to manage your company set-up as you prepare your application.
Being granted a US visa does not in itself guarantee entry into the country. As a foreign national, you will be subject to the discretion of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), whose officers have the authority to deny admission.
CBP will also determine your authorized length of stay.
There are no requirements on the family members of E2 visa holders to be the same nationality as the primary visa holder to be eligible for a derivative visa.
Yes, E2 derivate family members are allowed to work in the US. They will need to obtain an employment authorization document from USCIS as proof of their authorization.
Unlike the main E2 visa holder, E2 family members do not have to work for the E2 company.
Through the renewal application, the consular officers will assess the E2 company’s performance during the period of your E2 status to determine if it remains viable. Your investment in the company will also be examined.
Your eligibility as an E2 visa holder will also be evaluated to confirm you continue to meet the visa requirements.
We advise our E2 visa clients to be mindful of the renewal process throughout their period of E2 leave – collating documents on an ongoing basis and ensuring that they continue to meet the visa conditions and the renewal requirements to avoid issues or risk at the point of renewal.
The process of obtaining an E2 Treaty Investor visa can be lengthy and complex. NNU Immigration are specialist US immigration attorneys with a wealth of knowledge and experience in E-2 visa applications and company registrations.
If you’re considering applying for the E-2 Treaty Investor visa, or have previously made an E2 visa application that has been refused, contact us.