Since the passage of the E2 Investor Visa Bill by the house in March, many Israelis have been calling my office asking when can they finally move here and start the business of their dreams. Well,the Senate passed the bill by unanimous voice vote last week. It had been unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 19 and now heads to President Obama for his signature.
The measure added Israel to the list of countries eligible for E-2 investor visas. Once signed into law by President Obama, as expected, the bill will put Israel on a list with more than 79 other countries whose citizens are eligible for the visas.
The Embassy of Israel in Washington applauded the passage of legislation, saying it enables “Israeli nationals to make large investments in the U.S. economy, creating many additional jobs for Americans.
As the US Economy continues to recover,many Israelis would want to come to the US and start their own businesses via the E2 visa investment.
This is also known as the nonimmigrant investor visa. It is a temporary category that is granted in two-year to five year increments with no limits on the number of extensions. The E-2 category is available to citizens of countries that have a treaty of trade or commerce with the U.S. such as the Holland, France and the UK. The State Department does not require any specific size investment. Rather it says the business owner must invest a “substantial amount of capital” that generates “more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family.”.
An E-2 allows treaty nationals to manage investments that are at least 50% Treaty Country owned. The visa requires that the U.S. investment be substantial and generates a substantial income. While there are no hard and fast figures on what the minimum investment amount is, the USCIS generally require a business investment of $50,000 or more, but the investment amount depends on the nature of the business. For example, opening up a restaurant in downtown San Diego would require 500,000 dollars while opening up a Catering business firm may only require start up costs of $50,000. This is why there is no fixed figure on a minimum investment amount.
The E-2 investor must show that its return on investment is more than what is necessary to merely support the investor in the U.S.
E-2s may include intercompany transferees in management or specialized knowledge positions. For example, an Israeli Hotel manager may be transferred on an E-2 visa to the U.S. to fill a management position. The company must be majority owned and controlled by citizens of France. The manager does not have to be an owner of the company. Unlike the H-1B, the E-2 visa holder’s spouse can also obtain work authorization for the duration of their E-2 status. He or she may then work anywhere.
The E-2 visa is beneficial to many who wish to work and conduct business in the U.S. It is not limited to just the owners of companies, but may be used by their managers and specialized knowledge workers. The process for obtaining an E-2 is complex and should not be attempted without a qualified immigration lawyer.
Please email us with any questions on the E2 visa and sign up for our updates as we are awaiting the President to sign this Bill.