New US visa for Israelis decrees unexpectedly
The United States has reduced the investor visa to two years while most countries receive five-year investor visas; Relocation reduced by one year
Recently, and without prior warning, the US government has changed the regulation for Israelis seeking a visa for investment, work, and study in the US. The change includes significant reductions in time Israelis can stay in the US. The new regulation takes effect immediately.
Due to the changes, the maximum period for an L-1 work visa (the most common relocation visa) was reduced from 60 months to 48 months. The maximum period for an E-1 work visa (Trade Visa) decreased from 60 months to 52 months. The maximum period for F-1 student visa was reduced from 60 months to 41 months.
But the most surprising change has been the E-2 Investor Visa. When the government announced an issuance of investor visas to Israeli citizens seven months ago, the expectation was that Israelis would enjoy an investor visa for a period of 5 years – just like most countries that their citizens can apply for an E-2 visa. But due to the administration’s puzzling move, the maximum period of Israelis’ E-2 Investor Visa was reduced to only two years.
Why did the Israelis expect to get a 5-year E-2 investor visa?
Because this is the maximum period of the visa by law, and in view of the “special alliance” between Israel and the US – there was an expectation from the government’s attitude that would not be less than the ratio given to other countries.
And what is the attitude that other countries receive from the government?
Citizens from countries – ranging from Germany, Austria, Belgium, and the Czech Republic, through Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands bride in Italy, Canada, Norway and Spain – receive a 5-year E-2 Investor Visa. Even citizens of third world countries like Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan are enjoying the same length of time.
According to the State Department, the period of American visas is determined on the basis of “reciprocity”. According to the reciprocity rules, the United States will determine its visa requirements for nationals of a particular country, in accordance with the visa requirements that state grants U.S. citizens and for the same purpose. For example, if Russia offers tourist visas for a maximum of 3 years to US citizens, then the US will offer tourist visas for the same period as Russian citizens.
However, Adv. Liam Schwartz, head of a relocation at Goldfarb Seligman’s office, believes that “reciprocity” between Israel and the US does not exist. “Israel-US relations have been and still are unilateral in favor of the United States.” The notable evidence is that the United States requires Israelis to obtain a tourist visa to the United States – with all the hassle and cost involved – while the State of Israel, in general, exempts Americans from the need to obtain a tourist visa to Israel. It’s not reciprocal, it’s condescension.”
According to Adv. Schwartz, reducing the periods of work visas, studies and investors was not done in American response to moves from the Israeli side: “We checked with both the Population and Immigration Authority and the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and we were told that there was no change from the State of Israel in the visas granted to Americans.”
The US State Department reserves the right – at its discretion – to reduce the maximum periods of visas for Israelis and citizens of other countries. According to the law, there are three reasons for using this: A change in the visa conditions provided by that country to US citizens; Refusal by that country to absorb its citizens expelled from the United States; High rates of over-stay in the US by citizens of that country.
It should be noted that none of these conditions apply to Israel.
Reducing periods of work visas and study visas will force many Israelis to return to Israel in the middle of their work or studies, and be interviewed at the US Embassy to renew their entry visas.
While this involves high costs and a lot of hassle, the chance of success to renew the visa is high. They will be forced to return to the US Embassy every two years and reaffirm their eligibility for a visa every time.
That is, if in the last 24 months, the Consul believes that the investor has failed to advance his investment in terms of both income and the employment of local workers, the visa will not be renewed and the investor – along with his family – will have to leave the US.
Adv. Schwartz: “Often a two-year period is not enough to establish a business in the US – which is exactly why the default for a visa period is 5 years.”