The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv has not yet issued guidance to the public on the availability of E-2 visas for Israeli citizens. Nearly six months ago, President Obama signed legislation that would add Israel to the list of countries eligible for non-immigrant investor visas to the United States. The legislation, which was spearheaded by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), would grant E-2 investor visas to Israelis, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. to be closer to their investments. As of today, there does not appear to have been any movement in implementing this important legislation. The overriding issue is the fact that the Israeli government must create a reciprocal visa for Americans investing in Israel. Given recent events in Israel, the E-2 visa does not appear to be a priority.
Recently, Mintz Levin inquired with the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv about the status of plans to implement the E-2 visa. Specifically, we requested a projected timeframe for E-2 visas to become available for our Israeli citizen clients, many of whom are waiting to file E-2 applications. The response we received indicated that the Embassy is clearly taking steps internally to be in a state of preparedness to issue E-2 visas as soon as the law is implemented. However, the news is mixed: there is a delay within the Israeli government. Specifically, the Embassy is waiting for the Israeli government to specify the reciprocal treatment to be offered to Americans seeking a comparable visa. According to the Embassy, this requires government coordination between the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Trade and Labor and possibly the Ministry of Justice.
With an Israeli election in January 2013, we anticipate further delays with the implementation of the E-2 visa. In addition to security concerns and recent rocket attacks inside Israel, the upcoming election may delay the implementation of the E-2 visa. The representatives of the Israeli government agencies involved in presenting a reciprocal visa to the American government may be replaced after the election. While we hope that the current government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will prioritize the implementation of a reciprocal investment visa for Americans, the Israeli government is preoccupied with a delicate cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Thus, we may be waiting for some time for E-2 visas to become available, unless the Israeli government takes swift action this month to create a reciprocal visa category.