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Is Israel B-5 Investor Visa for U.S. Citizens Equivalent to E-2 Visa? U.S. to Determine

In 2012, then-President Barack Obama signed legislation allowing nationals of Israel to apply for E-2 treaty investor status, but benefit would not be available until Israel provided similar status to U.S. nationals. In March 2014, the Israeli government passed such a bill creating B-5 status for American investors. Further enabling regulations were necessary, however, because Israel had no path for granting work permits to foreign nationals based on investment alone. On June 21, 2018, the Interior Committee of the Knesset enacted the necessary regulations. Now, it is up to the U.S. Department of State to determine if the Israeli legislation meets the “similarity of status” requirement, i.e., is it reciprocal?

According to USCIS, to qualify for E-2 treaty investor status the investor must:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation;

  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States;

  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device;

  • The investment must be at risk; and

  • The funds invested must not have been obtained directly or indirectly from criminal activity.

E-2 treaty investor status is distinct from E-1 treaty trader status. Israel has been eligible for E-1 treaty trader status since 1949, but that status requires the company already to be carrying on substantial trade. It also requires such trade to be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country which qualifies the treaty trader for E-1 status. These requirements would not cover start-ups or entrepreneurs who wish to create businesses or subsidiaries in the United States.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2022National Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 179
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About this Author

Forrest G. Read IV, Immigration, Employment, Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Law Firm
Principal

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has special expertise in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read's immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and...

703-483-8314
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