ISRAELIS HAVE WAITED FOR THIS FOR A LONG TIME. MAZAL TOV. THE E-2 INVESTOR VISA HAS ARRIVED
by Alex Barak, Immigration Attorney, Hollywood, Florida
Citizens of other countries have been eligible for the E-2 investor visa for a long time, but Israelis were not. It seemed not to be fair.
E-2 visa requirements:
When many Israelis did not seem to fit into any of the available visa categories, they walked away frustrated. Some never came to America. Others sought out second passports from European countries which allowed the E-2 visa.
Now, Israelis are treated equally and the E-2 visa is wide open to them.
While the E-2 does not lead directly to a green card, it can be renewed indefinitely while the business is in operation. The E-2 visa holder also obtains an E-2 for his wife and children under 21 years old. The wife can also obtain a work permit and she can work anywhere she wants after approval.
The Israeli will direct or develop the business. He must demonstrate that he controls the enterprise by showing ownership of at least 51% of the business or 50% with a contract giving him full operational control.
The investor has placed $100,00.00 at risk, meaning he has signed a multi-year lease for a store or warehouse, has signed invoices/contracts for merchandise, or has signed contracts or closed on commercial real estate which requires active employees to manage and work in the same.
The investor will direct and develop the business.
The investment enterprise is not a passive investment. The business must have plans to hire employees.
If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in an executive or supervisory capacity, or possess skills that are highly specialized and essential to the operations of the commercial enterprise. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.
The E-2 visa applicant must always state to the U.S. government that he intends to return to Israeli in the future. If he says he wants to live in the USA permanently, he will be denied the E-2 visa.
Loans secured with assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.
Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment;
The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.
The investment may not be minor. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.
The applicant is in a position to "develop and direct" the enterprise.
In addition to the above, applicant must provide a document-linked history of the funds to provide clear and unquestionable proof of the money’s legal sources.
For example, an Israeli who has substantial wealth may be able to show high income on his annual tax returns, or show ownership of stocks with high value or that he inherited money from his grandparents or parents, or that he sold real estate or a business.
Immigration and the State Department (misrad hachutz) are very concerned that the source of the funds is 100% kosher and from non-criminal sources.
If the applicant is legal in the U.S. with an entry by a white I-94 document, we can file for change of status through the mail with Immigration. The filing fee is $325.00 for regular service, currently posted as taking two months for Immigration to respond. While the application is pending, client and family are legal. Client has the option from Immigration for speedier processing, which involves an $1225.00 additional premium processing fee, which, according to Immigration guarantees processing of an approval or a request for more documentation within 15 days. A spouse and minor children under 21 can receive derivative E-2 status for a filing fee of $290.00. A derivative spouse on E-2 can obtain a work permit for the filing fee of $340.00.
The applicant will need to go to the U.S. Embassy in the home country for an appointment specifically for an E-2 visa interview. The attorney will prepare and send in advance a comprehensive package which will be thoroughly reviewed and inspected by a Non-Immigrant Visa/E-2 specialist. Applicant will cooperate with attorney and put together and assemble all documents needed for this category. Client will pay the visa fee for the issuance of the E-2 visa, about $390.00. The attorney will communicate with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, as necessary, to discuss and conclude the client’s application.
If the applicant receives the E-2 visa in the United States while changing status from another visa, such as a B-2 tourist visa, if he and his family seek to travel outside the U.S., each must obtain the E-2 visa from the Department of State (misrad hachutz) at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv before returning from any trip abroad. Even a trip to the Bahamas or Mexico will trigger the requirement to obtain the E-2 visa from the U.S. Embassy before being allowed to return to the U.S.
The E-2 is a very complicated visa that should be handled only by the most experienced attorneys. Just as one would never try to perform a heart surgery on himself, an E-2 visa must be handled by a reputable and experienced attorney.
The author Alex Barak is a licensed attorney in Florida since 1981. He speaks Hebrew fluently as does his legal assistant. Office information: 4601 Sheridan Street, Suite 206, Hollywood, Florida 33021. Telephone: (954) 961-6200; e-mail: email@example.com