U.S. Bill Aims to Open Door Wider for Israeli Investors

Legislation advanced by Congressman Howard Berman would allow Israelis to apply to a E-2 investor visa, which requires a much smaller investment than the currently available E-1 visa.

A U.S. lawmaker presented a bill Thursday that would allow Israelis to apply to E-2 investor visa, meant to urge Israeli investments in the United States.

The bill is advanced by Congressman Howard Berman, Democrat from California, and could provide Israeli investors with the ability to temporarily live and work in close proximity to their investments in the U.S.

Times Square building

As of now, Israelis could only apply for E-1 trader visa, which allows them to be at the U.S. for the purpose of "substantial" international trade between the country of the applicant and the U.S.

Introducing the bill co-sponsored by two of his Republican colleagues, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Berman called Israel "one of our closest allies in the world and a significant investor in the U.S economy."

Berman added that the new visa will strengthen the relationship between the countries and encourage Israeli business leaders to invest in the United States, which will lead to job creation.

A Parallel bill in the Senate was introduced last May by Senators Charles Schumer, Mark Kirk and Jon Kyl.

Since it's a bipartisan initiative, there is a high chance it will become law.

The most frequent question is, of course, what is the minimal amount of money invested that qualifies one for such visa. Well, the answer is, according to legal sources, that "there is no explicit monetary amount for what constitutes a "significant amount of capital" - but it "must be enough to ensure the successful establishment and growth of an enterprise," hence "an investment in a small to medium-sized enterprise is acceptable."

Like the E1 visa, there is no set minimum level of investment which may qualify for E2 status, but the lower the investment the less likely one is to qualify."

Generally, the applicant should be prepared to invest at least $50,000 U.S. dollars in the E2 enterprise.

In response to the new bill, Israel's Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said in a statement that he commended "the sponsors of this bill, both in the House and the Senate, for undertaking this important initiative."

"The bill reflects the special and deep friendship between Israel and the United States. In working with the Embassy of Israel's Office of Congressional Affairs and its Economic Mission, and with the introduction of this legislation, the U.S. Congress advances shared political and economic interests that will enable the business communities in both countries to expand bilateral investments," Oren added.