The U.S. House of Representatives approved on Mnoday a bill that would add Israel to the list of countries eligible for non-immigrant investor visas in the United States.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and approved by a unanimous 371-0 vote, would permit Israeli investors, who develop and direct the operations of a business, to live and work in the U.S., provided that they invest a substantial amount of capital in the country.
The E-2 visa, which extends over a period of two years, may be indefinitely extended as long as the applicant continues to meet the terms.
The bill is significant because Israelis until now have been excluded from applying for the E2 visa as a result of U.S. limitations, which could only be changed as a result of legislation.
Rep. Berman, a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stated, “Israel is a trusted friend and a special ally, and this legislation expands business opportunities that will provide economic benefits for both countries.
"With passage of this bill, Israeli investors are one step closer to expanding their businesses to the United States and creating jobs for hardworking American workers."
He thanked his co-sponsor, chairman of the House Judiciary committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), for expediting the bill's consideration. Smith described the bill as one that “helps spur job creation and economic growth here at home and invests in our relationship with one of our closest allies.”
A similar piece of legislation has been sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) and is awaiting approval, which would become law after the signature of President Barack Obama.