After a seven-year wait, Israel citizens became eligible to apply for an E-2 visa at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv as of May 1.
Both the E-1 Visa for Treaty Traders and the E-2 Visa for Treaty Investors are only available to citizens of countries with treaties of trade and commerce with the U.S. The State Department maintains a list of treaty countries.
Since 1954, the U.S. and Israel have had a trade treaty that enables Israelis to apply for the E-1 visa. The E-1 visa allows foreign nationals whose home country has a treaty with the U.S. to come to the U.S. to work in international trade on their own or for an employer. International trade is considered the exchange of goods, services or technology.
In 2012, the U.S. and Israel signed a bilateral investment treaty enabling Israelis to apply for an E-2 visa. However, implementation of the E-2 for Israelis stalled until Israel created an equivalent provision for American citizens to invest in Israel and obtain work permits. The Israeli parliament only did so last year when it created the B-5 investor visa for American citizens.
Benefits of the E-2 Visa
The E-2 visa offers several advantages over other visa options. The E-2 visa does not require a minimum investment amount like the EB-5 Investor Green Card. The EB-5 investors need at least $1 million—or $500,000 if the investment is located in a rural or high unemployment area. And those minimum investment amounts may increase within the next year.
An E-2 visa only requires an investment that is “substantial and sufficient” to create a successful business in the U.S. Typically, the amount invested is well below the minimum investment for an EB-5 visa.
Moreover, even though the E-2 is a temporary visa, it can be extended indefinitely every two years as long as the conditions under which it was granted remain in place. In addition, the spouse of an E-2 visa holder is eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (work permit).
And, employees of the E-2 visa holder may also be eligible for E-2 visas.
Options for Companies
Now that citizens of Israel—known as the “startup nation”—can apply for an E-2 visa, Israeli startups and established companies may be eligible to transfer employees to open a U.S. office.
And U.S. companies can transfer foreign workers who cannot renew or otherwise obtain U.S. visas, such as those not selected in the H-1B lottery, to work or open an office in Israel. Israel offers a temporary work visa to experts and others with a company sponsor. Please note, we only practice U.S. immigration law; this is not intended as legal advice for obtaining a visa in Israel. If you’d like to consult with an immigration attorney in Israel, reach out to us for a referral.
After an employee works in Israel for at least one year, a company can sponsor the employee for one of the following U.S. visas:
- L-1A Intracompany Transferee Managers and Executives
- L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge Workers.
- EB-1C Green Card for Multinational Managers and Executives
- E-2 visa if the individual is a citizen of Israel.
Reach out to us if you would like more information. The Alcorn Immigration Law team closely monitors immigration developments here and abroad. We can help you, your company or your employees use visa options in the U.S. and Israel. We take pride in our creativity to determine the best options for you, your company, your employees or your family.