Israelis Now Eligible for E-2 Investor Program
On June 8, 2012, President Obama signed H.R. 3992 into law. The legislation was drafted to open the E-2 program to Israeli investors on the condition that Americans would be eligible for similar visas in Israel. Although the Bill was signed in 2012, implementation of the E-2 program for Israelis has been delayed for years.
The U.S. embassy in Israel would only start accepting E-2 applications once Israel confirmed that it will issue analogous visas to U.S. citizens. As such, Israel approved regulations for the B-5 investor program which created a visa option for American entrepreneurs and business owners who wish to establish and develop businesses in Israel. This was a major step in the right direction but did not immediately allow Israelis to participate in the E-2 program.
Now, after years of delay and negotiations, Israel is finally set to join the list countries who qualify for the E-2 Investor Visa. The U.S. Embassy in Israel’s website published the following announcement:
The U.S. Embassy has the pleasure to announce that a treaty investor agreement (E2 Visa) has been signed between the United States and Israel and will become effective as of May 1, 2019. Pursuant to the treaty, Israeli citizens will be able to apply for an E2 visa at the U.S. Embassy Branch Office Tel Aviv.
This means that Israeli business owners and entrepreneurs who invest a “substantial amount” of funds into a U.S. enterprise can now secure status to live and work in the U.S. There is no minimum threshold that must be reached for an investment to be considered substantial, however previous case law and guidance informs the analysis. Qualified legal counsel should be sought to inquire as to the substantiality of an investment.
Since 1954, Israelis have been able to apply for E-1 Visas, but these new developments greatly expand the options for Israelis. The E-1 category is limited, and it is very difficult for a startup to qualify for. Startups will have a much easier time securing an E-2. In 2017, Israel’s foreign direct investment in the United States was $11.9 billion. Expect that figure to increase in the coming years as these changes will likely be a catalyst for FDI.