Pearl Cohen has confirmed that starting on May 1, 2019 Israeli Nationals will be able to avail themselves of the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. As such, Ari Farkas, a Partner and the Chair of the U.S. Business Immigration Group at Pearl Cohen’s New York office and Kalia Klein, a Senior Partner and the Chair of the Employment Group at Pearl Cohen’s Tel Aviv office will be holding an informal town hall informational session, and Q & A, at Pearl Cohen’s Tel Aviv office on April 17th at 16:30, where we will discuss both the E-2 Visa and beyond, highlighting Pearl Cohen’s unique ability to assist its clients both in Israel and the U.S.
The implementation of the E-2 Visa has numerous and far reaching implications for Israeli entities and individuals. The E-2 has a number of significant advantages that make it a more flexible and convenient visa option for both start-ups and well-established companies, with or without a previous track record in the United States, be it in the high-tech or more traditional commerce-based sectors.
One of the strongest advantages of the E-2 Visa is that it greatly expands the field of Israeli employees able to be employed by Israeli-owned companies in the United States. Israeli entities looking to transfer talent to the US despite the fact that their employee may not have a BA degree, a requirement for the H-1B Visa, or have been employed by their company for a one year period abroad, as required for the L Visa, may be able to do so. Additionally, the investors themselves can use this visa to relocate to the United States, and there is no requirement that the E-2 Visa petitioner maintain any foreign operations.
Finally, since the E-2 Visa is based upon investment, Israeli-owned companies that have already invested substantial funds in a US enterprise may avail themselves of this new option so long as they can document that their past investment was “substantial.”
The following are some of the specifics of the E-2 Visa:
The company must be majority-owned by Israelis (at least 50%) who are not also U.S. citizens or green card holders, and the intended applicant must be an Israeli citizen. This is especially beneficial for entrepreneurs or investors who are majority interest holders in the enterprise and are seeking a visa for themselves.
The investment must be “substantial,” and what qualifies as such will depend on the circumstances. For example, for a small company with low overhead and one controlling investor, $50,000 may be considered substantial, whereas for a larger company with other controlling interest-holders, it’s possible that even $200,000 would not be considered sufficiently substantial.
The funds must have been “invested” or be “actively “in the process of being invested. The consulate will consider whether the funds are “at risk” and committed to the enterprise. This requires committing the investment funds before applying for the visa.
The company must be “real and operating.” New enterprises will have to document that they have a strong and realistic business plan for growth, and that they have taken significant steps towards establishing a functioning business. It is not uncommon that entrepreneurs and investors will first spend some time in the U.S. on a B1 Visitor for Business Visa getting their operations up and running before applying for the E-2 Visa. Additionally, the company will have to demonstrate that it will grow in size to employ and support others in the U.S. beyond just the investor and his/her family.
The E-2 applicant (whether the investor or employee) must be coming as an executive, manager, or an essential employee. There is some limit as to which applicants may be eligible for the E-2 Visa, however the categories are significantly more flexible than other business visas, such as the L-1. The visa applicant must be coming to direct operations (or some aspect of the company), supervise employees, or have specialized skills that are needed by the enterprise.
For more information on the E-2 Visa please email Ari Farkas at AFarkas@PearlCohen.com or Rebecca Lenetsky at RLenetsky@PearlCohen.com.