Berman moves to grant investor visas to Israelis

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Rep. Howard Berman introduced legislation that would allow eligible Israeli nationals to receive non-immigrant investor visas in the United States.

The legislation introduced Thursday would grant Israelis the ability to acquire the E-2 visa if similarly situated U.S. nationals are eligible for non-immigrant visas in Israel. 

The E-2 visa would permit Israeli investors to live and work in the U.S. in order to be closer to their investments. Seventy-nine countries, ranging from Britain to Montenegro to Iran, are party to longstanding treaties with the United States that allow their citizens to apply for E-2 status.

Berman (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a news release that the legislation would “encourage Israeli business leaders to invest in the United States and lead to the creation of jobs for American workers."

He called Israel "one of our closest allies in the world and a significant investor in the U.S. economy. The E-2 investor visa program will strengthen the vital U.S.-Israel relationship, boost the American middle class, and help grow the economies of both countries.” 

The House bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the committee; Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee’s immigration policy subcommittee.

A companion bill introduced last May by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has yet to move through the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

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