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House passes Israeli visa bill

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would add Israel to the list of countries eligible for non-immigrant investor visas in the United States.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and approved 371-0 Monday, 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 permits Israeli investors to live and work in the U.S. in order to be closer to their investments.

"With passage of this bill, Israeli investors are one step closer to expanding their businesses to the United States and creating jobs for hard-working American workers," Berman, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in remarks on the floor.

He thanked his co-sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Judiciary committee, for expediting the bill’s consideration.

Smith said its outcome would be to "create jobs and strengthen the already strong friendship between Israel and the United States.”

A similar bill is under consideration in the U.S. Senate.

Seventy-nine countries, from Britain to Montenegro to Iran, are party to long-standing treaties with the United States that allow their citizens to apply for E-2 status.

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