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US E2 visa for Israelis plunged into doubt

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Orthodox Jews in Israel

Adam Jones on Wikimedia Commons

In May, workpermit.com reported that the US Department of State (DoS) had projected that the US E2 visa would be made available to Israeli nationals by October 2017. However, it would seem that the DoS’ projections have been premature as implementing the scheme continues to drag on.

Other visa options for Israelis include the L1A visa for managers and executives, and the L1B visa for specialised knowledge workers.which are available to employees who have worked for the business outside the US for one year in the last three years.  These visas are dual intent, meaning applicants do not have to show ties to their home country and can apply for permanent residence through a US Green Card, in some cases where the employee has been at management level outside the US through the EB1C immigrant scheme while in the US. Other visas that Israelis can apply for are the E1 Treaty Trader visa and B1 in lieu of H1B visa.

Despite renewed optimism at the start of 2017, for a saga that has dragged on for several years, in April the DoS informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that Israel had failed to meet certain regulatory reciprocity requirements.

With the Israeli government’s first proposal deemed to be unfair to US investors seeking the equivalent of the E2 visa in Israel, DoS did not make the US visa available to Israeli nationals. Reports indicate that stakeholders are now bracing themselves for further delays as the formalities over an agreement continue to stall.

Claims Israel to blame for E2 visa delays

A DoS spokesperson attributed the delay to ‘Israel’s lack of action to fix noncompliant regulations.’ A statement released by the DoS said: “Earlier this year, DoS reviewed regulations drafted by Israel for creating a visa category, reciprocal to the E2 visa, for American investors.

DoS was not satisfied that the proposed regulations sufficiently reflected the benefits available to foreign investors under the E2 classification, and returned them to the Israeli government with detailed comments and suggestions.

It was expected that the Israeli government would promptly revise the proposed regulations. Consequently, the DoS informed AILA at the Spring AILA/DoS Liaison Meeting that it anticipates that E2 visas will be available for nationals of Israel by the fourth quarter of calendar year 2017.”

However, it would seem that DoS expectations were optimistic, according to State Department officials. It’s understood that Israel has not even started a regulatory redraft, which is likely to mean that the timeframe specified by the DoS will be missed.

US Visa Redraft will be reviewed

Even when the redraft is submitted it will be further scrutinised to ensure that it adheres to the conditions of E2 classifications. Should the DoS be satisfied with the Israeli government’s revised proposals, the two countries can begin to finalize arrangements and begin a new era in bilateral investor relations.

For the time being, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv continues to declare that the E2 visa is not in effect and remains unavailable to Israeli nationals. The news comes as a disappointment, but sources say as soon as an acceptable regulatory redraft is received by the US, ‘the door will be opened to international investment and economic growth for both nations.’

Currently, Israeli citizens – without dual nationality status – are forced to turn to the E1 treaty trader visa for US entry. However, this requires companies to participate in substantial international trade in order to qualify. As a further condition, the majority of trade must be done with Israel.

Unfortunately, this disqualifies a high volume of entrepreneurs from applying for an E1 visa for ‘domestic’ use. Furthermore, those applying for an E1 visa would need to have dual nationality status with a country that has an E2 treaty agreement in place with the United States, such as Grenada.

E2 visa via Grenada citizenship

Recently, workpermit.com reported that citizenship applications for the Caribbean island of Grenada had boomed in the last three years as a result of its Citizenship by Investment program, introduced in 2014. The scheme is being used to fast-track US E2 visa applications.

Grenada is the only Caribbean country with a fast-track citizenship programme, which signed a Commerce and Navigation Treaty with the USA. As a result, Grenada’s citizens are eligible for the US E2 non-immigrant visa.

This means Grenadians can secure a US E2 visa with a substantial investment in a US-based business and by employing some US citizens or US resident staff. However, Israeli’s opting for this route would need to invest tens of thousands of dollars to secure Grenadian citizenship before being eligible to apply for a US E2 visa.

According to a report published by Forbes, a minimum investment of $200,000 (US) will secure Grenadian citizenship within 12 weeks. With a severe backlog currently affecting US visa processing, citizens of several nations, including China, El Salvador, Guatemala and India in particular, are facing E2 visa delays of up to 10 years.
 

Workpermit.com can help with E1, E2, L1, H1B, B1 in lieu of H1B, B1 Business Visit Visas, E3 Visas and other types of US Visas

For more information, or to find out if you are eligible for an US work visa, contact WorkPermit.com on 0344 991 9222.