United States: E-2 Treaty Investor Visas Available To Israeli Nationals As Of May 1, 2019

Tara L Vance is a Partner in Holland & Knight's New York office.

The U.S. Embassy in Israel has finally made the long-awaited announcement that the required treaty agreement has been signed pursuant to which nationals of Israel will be able to apply for an E-2 visa as of May 1, 2019.

What Is an E-2 Visa?

An E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that permits a national of a qualifying country, such as Israel beginning May 1, 2019, to come to the U.S. temporarily if the following prerequisites are satisfactorily met.

  1. There must exist an applicable treaty between the U.S. and the country of the applicant's nationality. (The U.S. and Israel have an applicable treaty effective as of May 1, 2019.)
  2. The U.S. company must ultimately and principally be owned by citizens of the treaty country. (The U.S. company must ultimately be majority owned by an Israeli entity or company.)
  3. The applicant must be a national of the same treaty country. (All applicants for E-2 visa must hold Israeli citizenship.)
  4. The investment in the U.S. company must be substantial. (What is considered substantial is to a large extent up to the discretion of the Consular Officer, but generally it is preferred to be an investment of $250,000 or more.)
  5. The investment must be a real investment in an operating enterprise. (Speculative or idle investment and uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security do not qualify.)
  6. The investment may not be marginal. (The funds invested must have the capacity to generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to applicant or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.)
  7. The investor must have control of the funds and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. (Typically, the Consular Officer requires evidence that the funds have been or are being used by the U.S. company.)
  8. The applicant must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise (i.e., if the applicant is the principal investor), or he or she must be an executive or a manager, or have specialized knowledge that is proprietary to the company.

Why Is This Important News?

The E-2 visa is a strategically strong visa option for qualifying companies and applicants, especially in today's more stringent immigration atmosphere. The E-2 visa will open the doors for new business opportunities to Israeli-owned newly established entities in the U.S. and well-established entities as well.

How Does One Apply for an E-2 Visa?

Unlike most other U.S. nonimmigrant work visas, the E-2 visa is adjudicated at the U.S. Embassy Branch in Tel Aviv by the Consular Officer. As such, the E-2 visa application materials must be prepared, arranged and submitted directly to the Embassy Branch Office, which will review the application and advise when an interview appointment can be scheduled. The Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv is currently advising that it expects the initial review to take two to three weeks, but in most countries, this process usually takes between four and six weeks.

What About Family Members Wanting to Join the Applicant?

Spouses of the principal applicant and unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to join the principal applicant can apply for E derivative visas at the same time as the principal applicant or at a later date by preparing and filing the materials required by the Embassy Branch Office.

Can My Spouse Work if He or She Has a Derivative E-2 Visa?

Yes, the spouse of a principal E-2 visa holder can work in the U.S. but only after entering the U.S. using the E-2 derivative spouse visa and then filing an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for work authorization and obtaining an Employment Authorization Card, which will permit the spouse to work for any employer in the U.S.

How Do I Get More Information or Start the Process to Apply for an E-2 Visa?

Holland & Knight's Immigration Team is prepared to offer assistance with E-2 visa applications. If you need help or have any questions regarding E-2 visas, contact Tara Vance.

Our immigration attorneys serve the needs of clients ranging from large multinational corporations to start-up companies and individuals. We prepare and file a variety of pertinent immigration documents for clients and remain actively involved in every step of the adjudication process.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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