Beginning on May 1, 2019, a treaty between the U.S. and Israel will allow qualifying Israelis to apply for Treaty Investor (E-2) non-immigrant visa status in the U.S. Israel joins many other countries, from Australia to the United Kingdom, whose citizens are already eligible for E-2 visas.
What is an E-2 visa?
The E-2 non-immigrant classification allows a national of an eligible country to work in the U.S. based on a substantial investment in a U.S. business. The investor as well as certain key employees are eligible for this classification.
What are the criteria for E-2 visas?
The following criteria must also be met:
- Applicant possesses the nationality of the treaty country;
- U.S. enterprise is a real and operating commercial enterprise;
- Substantial investment has been made and is more than a marginal one solely to support the applicant;
- Applicant is in a position to “develop and direct” the enterprise;
- Applicant will hold an executive/supervisory position or possesses skills essential to the operations in the U.S.; and
- Applicant intends to depart the U.S. when his or her E-2 status terminates.
What is a “substantial” investment?
While there is no specific minimum dollar amount required for the capital investment, to qualify as substantial, the investment must meet two tests, namely 1) the “proportionality test” and 2) the “marginality test.”
The “proportionality test” requires that the E-2 capital invested be a significant proportion of the total value of the business enterprise in the U.S., or a significant proportion of the starting cost of the business, if new. The required proportion varies inversely in relation to the value of the business. In general, the smaller the total value or cost of the E-2 business, the larger the percentage of investment required.
To meet the “marginality test,” the investment cannot only return enough income to provide a living for the E-2 visa holder. The business must have the capacity, or potential, to support U.S. workers as well.