Since 2012, the United States has had legislation in place allowing Israelis to apply for E2 visa investor status, but there was a catch. E2 status would not be made available (to Israelis) until Israel provided a similar status for American investors. The Israeli government passed legislation in 2014 making B-5 investor status available for Americans. Further regulations were necessary, however, because there was no clear path for foreigners to obtain work permits in Israel based solely upon their investment.
Last month, the Israeli Knesset finally approved the regulations necessary to allow Americans to invest and work in Israel. The new regulations are currently under review by the U.S. State Department to determine if they meet the reciprocity requirements necessary to allow E2 visas from Israel to the U.S. This review may be completed as soon as this coming September.
Up until now, Israelis have only been able to obtain E1 treaty status, which has much stricter requirements, among them being the requirement to already be carrying on substantial trade between the two countries. This rules out startup businesses, including tech entrepreneurs and those who want to start an E2 visa franchise in the United States.
The E2 visa requirements are much easier to meet, and availability of this status will pave the way for thousands of Israeli entrepreneurs who want to own and operate a U.S.-based business.
What are the Qualifications for an E2 Visa?
Israeli investors and entrepreneurs who want to capitalize on the E2 visa investment opportunity must meet certain qualifications. These include:
Investment Must be “Substantial”: The U.S. government wants you to invest a significant sum of money into the E2 business you are starting. Though there is no clearly established dollar amount, experience has shown us that you should expect to invest at least $100,000 USD to have a good chance of approval. Some applicants have been approved for a lower amount, but to be safe, $100K is a good benchmark to adhere to.
Investment Must be “Non-Marginal”: You must convince the USCIS that the business you are starting is not a “sketchy” enterprise such as a multi-level marketing scheme or something similar. In other words, you must show that this is a real business, and back that up with a solid business plan. The U.S. government also wants to see that your business will create jobs for American workers.
Must be Active Participant in the Business: The E2 visa is not for passive business investors. This category is for business owners who plan to live in the United States and actively participate in the operation of the business.
Must Own at Least 50% of the Business: You may have other business partners, but the E2 applicant must have at least 50% ownership in the business.
Must Obtain Investment Funds Legally: Some of the investment capital for your business can come from family members, loans, and sources other than your own bank account. Wherever they come from, however, the funds must be obtained legally, and the sources must be fully documented.
Which businesses work best with the E2 Visa?
As stated previously, the business you invest in must be “non-marginal” and this must be demonstrated with a strong business plan. One of the best options for Israeli E2 visa applicants is franchising. Franchise businesses are those offered by well-established brands in various industries. These include fast food, cleaning, automotive, senior care, children’s care, and many others. Franchise brands are recognized by USCIS officers, and they know these businesses are real. In addition, the franchisor provides applicants with a comprehensive business plan that helps satisfy the requirements for approval.
The training and support applicants receive from the franchisor is another major benefit. When you partner with an established franchise, they have a vested interest in ensuring that you are profitable. It is their brand and reputation at stake, and they are highly motivated to give you all the tools necessary to position you for success.
Where do you start?
For Israeli investors who want to apply for an E2 visa, it may be hard to know which franchise business (or other type of business) is right for them. There are numerous options out there, and unless you have a particular brand in mind, you could spend countless hours looking at each company to determine which direction you should go.
At National Franchise Business Solutions, we have access to over 600 franchise brands across a wide range of industries. Through a proven multi-step process, we work closely with E2 visa applicants to match them with the franchise brand that best suits their passion, skills, and budget. We never charge any consultation fees, and whomever you choose to partner with, you will pay exactly the same franchise fee whether you work with us or with the franchisor.
If you want to know more about our services, fill out the form at the bottom of the page and a franchise consultant will be back in touch with you shortly.