US E-2 Visa now open to Israeli Citizens
From May 1, 2019, the US E-2 visa will open to Israeli nationals wanting to move to the US to make substantial investments or to start up their own business.
This new development sees Israeli citizens interested in investing, living and working in the USA are now able to apply under the US’ highly attractive Treaty Investor program. It follows seven years of negotiations between the US and Israel to agree reciprocal terms for an investor visa scheme.
Since 1954, Israel and the US have operated a reciprocal agreement under the E-1 visa for international traders but May 1 sees Israel become of one of the E2 Treaty Nations with which the US maintains a Treaty of Commerce & Navigation.
Consequently, Israeli citizens will now satisfy one of the key requirements of the E-2 scheme that visa applicants hold the nationality of a Treaty country. Previously, the route was only open to Israeli citizens with dual or multiple nationalities on which they could rely for eligibility.
Those interested in the scheme can now begin to compile their application and collate their documentation, with a view to filing as soon as the scheme opens in May.
All E-2 petitions for Israeli citizens (investors as well as employees) are to be filed at the US Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv with all supporting documentation submitted by mail.
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.
Why consider the E-2 visa?
The E-2 visa is a highly attractive classification for those wanting to live and do business in the US. It has the potential to further Israeli 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.
It becomes available where non-US nationals of Treaty countries are purchasing an existing US-based company or setting up their own enterprise. The route is open to all size of business, from start ups through to multinationals, across all sectors.
It also allows for immediate family members of the E-2 visa holder and qualifying employees of the E-2 company to hold the same classification. In addition, E-2 spouses are authorized to work in the US and are not limited to working for the E2 company, unlike the principal E-2 visa holder and any E-2 employees.
E-2 visa holders can stay up to two years and there is no limit on how many times you can renew the status, provided you and the E-2 company remain eligible under the visa requirements. At this stage, it is not yet clear how long the maximum visa period applicable to Israeli nationals will be, as this varies by Treaty agreement and country.
Are you E-2 eligible?
Applicant nationality is just one of several requirements that must be met to qualify for the E-2 visa:
- The investor – this can be a natural person, a partnership or a corporate entity – must be a citizen of a Treaty investment country.
- The investment funds, applicant and any E-2 employees must come from the same Treaty country.
- The main E-2 applicant must show at least 50 percent ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.
- The E-2 business must be a ‘real operating enterprise’. Examples of activity which would not qualify include idle investments, paper organizations, undeveloped land or stocks, or a not-for-profit organization.
- The applicant investor must be traveling to the US to develop and direct the enterprise or if they are an E-2 employee, their role must meet the required standard, ‘supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity’.
- The enterprise will need to show the objective is to generate profit and result in job creation for US-resident workers or make a significant economic impact on the US. It has to do more than just provide for the applicant and their family.
- The investor must show an at-risk personal, financial investment in the E-2 company at a level substantial and sufficient enough to ensure the successful operation of the business.
Do you have a question about the E 2 visa?
If you are looking to live and work in the United States as an E2 visa Treaty Investor, preparation will be essential when approaching your application, since your investment and future plans will be at stake.
As specialist US immigration attorneys, we can guide you through the complexities of the E-2 visa application process, providing expert guidance to ensure the petition, documentation and business plan are comprehensive and effective in demonstrating your eligibility.
For advice on your E-2 visa application, contact us.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.