|For Immediate Release
February 28, 2012
Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Full Committee Markup of
H.R. 3992, “To allow otherwise eligible Israeli nationals to receive E-2 nonimmigrant visas if
similarly situated United States nationals are eligible for similar nonimmigrant status in Israel.”
Chairman Smith: Today we consider H.R. 3992, legislation that was introduced by our colleague Howard Berman and that I have co-sponsored. The bill adds Israel to the list of countries eligible for “E-2” visas. E-2 visas are temporary visas available for foreign investors.
A foreign national may be admitted initially for a period of two years under an E-2 visa, and can apply for extensions in two-year increments.
The U.S. has entered into treaties of commerce that contain language similar to the E-2 visas since at least 1815, when we entered into a Convention to Regulate Commerce with the United Kingdom.
Currently, the nationals of 76 countries are eligible for E-2 status – from Albania to the Ukraine. In fiscal year 2010, 25,500 aliens including dependents were granted E-2 visas.
In the past, countries became eligible for the E-2 program through treaties signed with the U.S. However, in 2003, the Judiciary Committee reached an understanding with the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) that from now on, no immigration provisions were to be included in future trade agreements. As a result, specific legislation would be required to add countries to the E-2 program.
In order to qualify for an E-2 visa, an investor has to have a controlling interest in and demonstrate that they will develop and direct the enterprise. In addition, the investor has to invest and put at risk a substantial amount of capital.
This is measured by a proportionality test – the higher the cost of the business, the lower the proportion of its total value the investment has to represent.
In addition, the investment has to be large enough to ensure the investor’s financial commitment to the enterprise and that the investor will successfully develop and direct it.
I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3992. The investments and business enterprises fostered by this bill benefit the economies of both the United States and Israel. And they also will create jobs and strengthen the already strong friendship between Israel and the United States.