E-2 Visas to the USA

Did you know the US Embassy in Tel Aviv already processes E-2 Investor Visas to the USA for Israelis with a second nationality?

President Obama, as part of his effort to prompt a USA immigration reform, has just recently announced a series of measures that will make it easier for entrepreneurs from all over the world to enter the United States on work visas. This should provide greater opportunities for Israelis seeking an E-2 visa which will allow them to work and live in the United States. One area, however, that Israelis can take advantage of right now is for those Israelis who hold a second nationality, such as many Israelis who have European passports and who seek to invest in a US business. This is known as the E-2 Investor Visa program.

What Is an E-2 Visa to the United States?

The E-2 visa is a complex program established by the United States to encourage investors to invest in businesses in the United States for the purpose of growing the US economy. The E-2 visa is a temporary work permit to manage or work in an approved company. The visa can be granted for up to five years, but is renewable indefinitely as long as the E-2 individual continues to work for the approved company, and the company remains profitable.

The basis of the visa is the making of a substantial and irrevocably committed investment in a US business. There is no set dollar amount, but most attorneys recommend the investment be at least $100,000. While the law permits the investment into a new company, investment and purchase of an existing business has a better chance of passing muster with the US embassy.

Upon investment, the investor must own at least 50% of the company and must be coming to the United States to manage the business.  Thus, the investor must show that the company has several existing employees or soon will employ them. The spouse of the investor is also granted an E-2 visa and can work in any occupation.

The application process is complex. A recent case I filed included over 500 pages of documentation. This must include comprehensive financial information, organizational documents, the contract to purchase and a business plan.

Once everything is compiled, the request for the E-2 Visa Israel – Investor Visa to the USA for Israelis with a second nationality is submitted to the US embassy in Tel Aviv to the special E-1/E-2 unit. The embassy contains professional personnel who scrutinize these filings. If something is missing in the E-2 visa Israel request, the embassy will contact the applicant. Finally, the embassy schedules an interview with the investor, his/her spouse, children ages 14-20, and the attorney, if applicable. The embassy estimates that interviews will be scheduled from 4-6 weeks following the submission of the application.

E-2 Investor Visa to the USA for Israeli Nationals

The interview for the E-2 visa Israel – Investor Visa to the USA for Israelis with a second nationality takes place in the visa section of the embassy through a glass window. The interview is extensive. The consular officer will have thoroughly examined the submission and will question the applicant about almost everything in the file.  In a recent case I handled, the interview took about 45 minutes, and the applicant was approved. The applicant told me afterward it was the most difficult interview he had ever encountered.

Both the US and Israeli governments have indicated the E-2 visa Israel (and the corresponding B-5 visa for US investors into Israel) will be available soon to Israeli citizens. This article provides an outline of what to expect. In the meantime, those Israelis with other nationalities may want to consider the option of the E-2 Investor Visa to the United States.

Jamie Cohen, Advocate at Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh

Please contact us if you are interested in more information about the E-2 visa for Israelis or immigration to the USA.

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