On March 19, 2012, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3992 by a 371-0 vote, which would add Israel to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to receive E-2 nonimmigrant visas as investors. The measure is contingent on Israel providing reciprocal nonimmigrant status to U.S. nationals in Israel. On May 9, 2011, a companion bill (S. 921) was introduced in the Senate, but the Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to consider the bill.
The E-2 “treaty investor” visa allows an individual who is a national of a country, with which the United States has an appropriate treaty of trade and commerce, to come to the United States for the purpose of developing and directing the operations of a U.S. business enterprise in which he or she has invested a “substantial” amount of capital. Israeli nationals are currently eligible for E-1 “treaty trader” visas based on a separate reciprocal treaty between the United States and Israel. The E-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for a foreign national who is coming to the United States to conduct substantial trade between the United States and the treaty country where the person holds citizenship.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) stated that “(t)he investments and business enterprises fostered by this bill benefit the economies of both the United States and Israel.” If enacted, both H.R. 3992 and S. 921 would permit Israeli nationals to obtain E-2 visas to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which an Israeli investor has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital. Ogletree Deakins is continuing to monitor developments with respect to this legislation in the Senate.