Israelis looks to US E2 Visa as Vaccination Program Reopens Both Countries

Israel signed an E2 Treaty with the United States in 2019, but the Coronavirus pandemic caused a false start. As the world reopens, 2021 and 2022 look set to be bumper years for Israeli E2 visas.

Israel became the newest E2 Treaty Investor Visa Country in the world when it signed a treaty with the United States that came into force in May 2019. The E2 Visa allows anyone from a treaty country to move to the United States for the purpose of investing in and running a business.

Around 500 E visas were issued to Israeli nationals in 2019*, a figure that was expected to jump significantly in 2020. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Borders were shut and the US embassy in Israel closed to all but essential operations. Visa processing ground to a halt and the number of E visa issuances in Israel dropped to just 260 last year.

The outlook for 2021 is mixed. While consular services have resumed at the embassy, they are still limited by social distancing and the need to protect both staff and applicants. Israel’s world-leading vaccination campaign mean things are likely to improve quickly in the second half of the year and into 2022. Given the current demand we are seeing from Israel, 2022 could be a bumper year for E2 visas in the country.

Benefits of an E2 Visa?

The E2 visa allows a person to invest in and run a business in the United States. Investment requirements are relatively low – usually starting from around $100,000 but need to be enough to support the business plan. It is possible to start a new business, acquire and existing business, or buy into a franchise. It is important to engage attorneys like Davies & Associates that has corporate lawyers working in close proximity with immigration lawyers because the business needs to be correctly structured to comply with the immigration regulations.

Spouses and children under the age of 21 can accompany the primary applicant. Spouses can apply for work authorization in the United States. The visa is valid for up to 5 years but can be renewed again and again provided the underlying business continues to operate. That said, the very first time an Israeli citizen is issued an E2 visa, it will be valid for anything up to 2 years before requiring renewal – subsequent renewals will be at the 5 year intervals.

Becoming a citizen of Israel to access the E2 Visa

Eligibility for the E2 Visa is determined by your country of citizenship. People from countries like Russia and South Africa are not directly eligible. Anyone from a non-E2 Treaty country the could claim Israeli citizenship can then become eligible for the E2 visa by virtue of their new Israeli nationality. Read more about dual Russia Israel citizenship.

People who hold dual UK and Israeli nationality may prefer to opt to apply for the E2 Visa under their Israeli passport. The UK is the only E2 country whose citizens are required to reside in their home country. Israeli-UK dual citizens can still apply at the embassy in London under their Israeli passport.

Alternative US Visas for Israelis

Israel and America have a long history of close political and economic ties. America is by far Israel’s leading export market with around one third of all exports going to America. This may mean the E1 Treaty Trader Visa is more suited to some Israelis. Israel has been eligible for the Treaty Trader Visa for much longer than the E2 Visa. In fact, Israel has been an E1 country since the 1950s. This visa allows for more easy access to the US for employees and owners of Israeli firms that conduct substantial trade with America.

Other alternatives to the E2 Visa for Israeli business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals include the EB5 Investor Visa and the L1 Transfer Visa. Only one Israeli was issued an EB5 investor visa in 2019 out of a total allocation of just over 700. The EB5 visa is a residency by investment program that offers a Green Card for $900,000. All qualifying family members can all obtain Green Cards for a single investment.

The L-1 Visa allows for the intracompany transfer of a manager, execuitve or specialized knowledge employee, from the Israeli office to the US office of the same company. It is possible to use this visa category to send a manager to oversee the establishment and growth of a new US operation of your existing Israeli business. 2,000 L-1 Visas were issued to Israelis in 2019.

* Figures include E1 Treaty Trader Visas as well as E2 Treaty Investor Visas.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.

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