U.S. Senate, 111th Congress.
U.S. Senate, 111th Congress. Photo by Senate Photo Studio
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The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill allowing Israeli investors to reside there to oversee their businesses in the country, which backers say will spur job creation and economic growth.

The bill had unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 19 and now heads to U.S. President Barack Obama for his signature.

The measure added Israel to the list of countries eligible for E-2 investor visas. Once signed into law by Obama, as expected, the bill will put Israel on a list with more than 79 other countries whose citizens are eligible for the visas.

The visas are temporary documents available to foreign nationals who must be a national of a country with which the United States has a treaty. To qualify, the applicant must come to the U.S. to develop and direct the operations of a business in which he or she has invested, or is in the process of investing. The visas allow the investors and business leaders to reside in the United States to oversee their operations here.

The Embassy of Israel in Washington applauded the passage of legislation, saying it enables "Israeli nationals to make large investments in the U.S. economy, creating many additional jobs for Americans."

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said in a press statement that the bill "will stimulate mutual economic growth and increase investment opportunities."

Bilateral trade between the two countries hit $36.9 billion in 2011 and Israel is among the U.S.’s 10 largest export markets per capita.