VALLEY VILLAGE,Calif.– A bill championed by U.S. Rep. Howard Berman addingIsraelto the list of countries eligible for E-2 investor visas was approved unanimously by the Senate, allowing Israeli investors to expand their businesses in theU.S., spurring job creation and economic growth here.
The legislation will now be sent to the President for signature. Once signed into law,Israelwill join the list of over 75 countries that are eligible for E-2 visas.
“This bill sends enterprising Israeli investors a clear and unambiguous message: The United States is open for business,” said Rep. Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The expansion of Israeli enterprises here will result in job creation for American workers.Israelis an incubator of entrepreneurship, already a global leader in security and defense technologies, medicine, agriculture, and clean energy. Our nation will benefit greatly from bringing their innovations and scientific advancements to our shores.”
Added Berman, “Israeli investors have a natural home in the San Fernando Valley andSouthern Californiato expand their businesses, hire American workers, and strengthen the economy. Organizations like The Southern California Israel Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit, non-governmental organization encouraging trade and investment opportunities are well positioned to seize on this opportunity.”
The Berman legislation was introduced in February and cosponsored by both Democrats and Republicans. It was championed immediately by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) who helped pass the bill through his committee and then the House of Representatives by a vote of 371-0.
“Senator Leahy played an instrumental role in advancing this legislation forward, and I thank the Chairman and his staff, as well as the bill’s cosponsors, Senators Schumer, Kirk and Kyl,” said Berman.
Israelserves as an importantU.S.trading partner, with bilateral trade between the two countries reaching $36.9 billion in 2011.
Israelis among theU.S.’s 10 largest export markets per capita. Despite a population of only 8 million peopleIsraelis among theU.S.’s 24 largest export markets by value, ahead of countries such asRussia,Ireland,Spain,Sweden, andArgentina.
Between 2000 and 2010 Israeli Direct Investment in theU.S.totaled $58.5 billion and in 2010Israelwas the largest supplier of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to theU.S.from theMiddle East. In fact,Israelsupplied nearly as much FDI to theU.S.asChina. These investments have created and support tens of thousands of jobs in both countries.
Background on E-2 Investor Visas: E-2 visas are temporary visas available to foreign nationals who must be a national of a country with which theUnited Stateshas a treaty. To qualify for the visa, a foreign national must come to theU.S.in order to develop and direct the operations of a business in which the applicant has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. The E-2 visa is based on the principle that foreign direct investment into theU.S.spurs economic growth.