USCIS: Israeli Nationals Now Eligible for E-2 Treaty Investor Visas

by Joseph McKeown

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)  announced that effective May 1, 2019, eligible Israeli nationals already in the US in a lawful nonimmigrant status (along with spouses and unmarried children under twenty-one-years of age) can file to request a change of status to E-2 status. The E-2 nonimmigrant classification  allows nationals of countries with which the US has a “treaty of commerce and navigation” to be able to enter the country if they are “investing substantial capital in a US business.” Certain employees of these investors or qualifying organizations may also qualify for E-2 status.

The US Embassy in Israel also announced that effective May 1, 2019, Israeli citizens will be eligible to apply for an E-2 visa at the US Embassy Branch Office Tel Aviv. Applicants should not schedule an appointment on the online system. Instead, companies must register and submit individual visa applications by mail: 

All Israeli companies seeking E-visas for their owners or employees must apply at the Branch Office in Tel Aviv and establish that the trading enterprise or investment meets the requirements. The company and applicant have the burden of demonstrating fulfillment of requirements for Treaty Trader/Investor status under 9 FAM 402.9. For both first-time applicants and renewals, the company must submit supporting documents, including the individual application for the employee, by mail.

For individuals in the US who have received an approval from USCIS for a change of status to E-2, the Embassy notes that this status is only valid if the foreign national remains in the US. To obtain an E visa stamp, the company and applicant must submit a complete package by mail, per the instructions for first-time applicants. 

A treaty signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 marked the beginning of the path to Israeli participation in the E-2 program. Implementation of the E-2 program, however, was slow in becoming, since Israeli law did not have a similar provision for US citizens to invest and obtain work authorization in Israel until June 2018, when the Israeli parliament’s Internal Affairs Committee created the B-5 visa for American entrepreneurs interested in investing in their businesses in Israel. USCIS maintains a webpage with information on E-2 Treaty Investors including qualifications and instructions on how to apply.