(May 22, 2014) On March 30, 2014, the Israeli government adopted a decision on the “[d]etermination of an arrangement for the grant of temporary residence visas for U.S. investors and for their essential employees, including their families.” (Government Decision No. 1528 [in Hebrew], Prime Minister’s Office website (Mar. 30, 2014).) The arrangement approved by the government is intended to comply with a precondition for the implementation of a similar arrangement for the grant of E-2 type visas for Israeli investors in the United States. (Id.)
According to Israel’s Ministry of Economy [IME], trade relations between Israel and the United States have been steadily increasing, with Israel being one of the 20 top foreign investors in the U.S. in 2010. Israel is also the highest foreign direct investor (FDI) in the U.S. from the Middle East, almost on par with China and ahead of countries like Brazil, India, Russia, and Taiwan. The IME further reports that there are currently hundreds of Israeli companies operating in the United States in manufacturing, research, and development, and also providing professional services, in some cases through subsidiaries or business partnerships. (Investor’s Visa (E-2 Visa) — Questions and Answers [in Hebrew], IME website (last visited May 21, 2014).)
The IME asserts that in spite of the high level of investment in the United States, “Israel was not included in the list of almost 80 countries such as Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Thailand, Turkey and Egypt whose citizens may apply for receipt of E-2 type investor visas.” (Id. at 2.)
Developments in U.S. Law re E-2 Status for Israel
Steps have been taken in the last two years towards adding Israel to the U.S. E-2 countries list. Under Public Law No. 112-130 of June 8, 2012, which had been House Resolution 3992 when in bill form, “Israel shall be deemed to be a foreign state described in section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C.1101(a)(15)(E)) for purposes of clauses (i) and (ii) of such section if the Government of Israel provides similar nonimmigrant status to nationals of the United States.” (H.R.3992 — 112th Congress (2011-2012), CONGRESS.GOV.)
According to information provided by the U.S. Embassy in Israel,
the implementation of this visa category will not be effective until the terms and conditions of the final agreement are determined between the two countries… As of today, Israeli citizens are not eligible for treaty investor visas (E-2) [phrase in bold provided by website].
On the other hand, applicants with nationalities of a treaty country which are eligible for an E-2 visa classification may submit their application to the American Embassy in Tel Aviv provided they hold dual citizenship with Israel. (Investor Visa for Israeli Nationals, Embassy of the United States, Tel Aviv, Israel, website (last visited May 20, 2014).)
Government Decision No. 1528 takes a step towards meeting the requirements for an agreement on E-2 visas by calling for the adoption of necessary legislative amendments to enable U.S. investors who are senior managers or who have unique expertise to temporarily reside in Israel. Among other specific instructions it gives to relevant government ministers on the passage of relevant amending regulations, the decision directs the Minister of Foreign Affairs to inform the U.S. Embassy in Israel of its contents. The decision clarifies that any necessary legislative amendments adopted to facilitate the implementation of these visas will go into force on a reciprocal basis with similar arrangements in the United States.
(Government Decision No. 1528, supra.)