B-5 & E-2 Visas: Bridging the Gap between the Startup Nation and Silicon Valley

B-5 & E-2 Visas: Bridging the Gap between the Startup Nation and Silicon Valley

The U.S. wasE2-visa-300x294 the first country to recognize the State of Israel as an independent nation in 1948; and since then it has been the tiny but powerful country’s strongest ally – in more ways than one. Over the years, the two nations have forged strong relationships in a variety of areas, from military support to scientific innovation to trade in goods and services. In 1985, the U.S. and Israel implemented a free trade Agreement, which removed trade barriers, promoted transparency, and encouraged trade and investment between the two nations. This agreement established the foundation for a robust U.S.-Israel partnership that continues to flourish, despite occasional setbacks.[1]

According to the Office the U.S. Trade Representative, Israel stands as the 25th largest goods trading partner with the U.S. (which is significant considering Israel’s tiny size)[2], while concurrently, the U.S. is Israel’s number one trading partner.[3] Surprisingly, in spite of their long history of open relations, Israel has not yet been included on the list of countries qualifying for the U.S.’s E-2 Treaty Investor visa (for more info: http://ecouncilinc.com/isnt-country-eligible-e-2-status/) – that is, until recently.

In 2012, President Obama signed legislation adding Israel to the list of eligible E-2 visa treaty nations, thereby presumably opening up the U.S. markets to Israeli investors seeking to grow their business, or to start fresh, in the U.S.[4]  However, although the law was approved by the U.S. roughly 5 years ago, it has yet to be implemented, as it faced one major obstacle –establishment of reciprocal Israeli immigration regulations allowing U.S. investors to apply for investor visas to enter the Israeli market. The bilateral nature of the E-2 visa requires full reciprocity by the treaty country, so before Israeli nationals can qualify for an E-2 visa, Israel must have its own version of the E-2 visa to provide U.S. citizens with opportunities to manage their investments in Israel. (for more information see http://ecouncilinc.com/us-israel-e-2-visa-agreement-finally-taking-effect/).

In 2014, the Israeli Knesset approved regulations creating the “B-5 visa”, the Israeli equivalent of the E-2.  In January, after nearly 3 years of deliberation, the Israeli government finally announced that it is ready to finalize the B-5 regulations and anticipates that the visa will be available to U.S. investors as of March, 2017.  Once this final benchmark is met, Israeli investors will finally be eligible to apply for the E-2 visa in the U.S. [5] This long awaited milestone will enable the U.S. to benefit from Israel’s vast supply of business entrepreneurs. It will also provide  Israelis with much greater freedom and opportunity to enter the U.S. marketplace and to live and work in the U.S.

With the highest number of startups outside of Silicon Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security logo.Valley, Israel  has been aptly titled the “Startup Nation.” According to Forbes,

Israel also boasts the most companies listed on the NASDAQ of any foreign nation. Fewer than 1% of startups in the United States manage to scale and expand, compared to 4% of new businesses in Israel. This success rate is, in large part, attributed to Israel’s seamless relationship between mandatory military training and an evolving culture of independence that encourages a desire to disrupt existing industries and redefine the modern marketplace.[6]

The establishment of the Israeli B-5 visa will open the vast U.S. market to Israel’s inventors, investors, and entrepreneurs (for more info, see http://ecouncilinc.com/startup-vs-e-2-visa/). Through the reciprocal E-2 program, these businesspeople will be eligible to receive temporary work visas which will enable them to reside and work in the U.S. on the condition that they establish a successful, job-creating U.S. business. Similarly, U.S. entrepreneurs will have the same opportunities in Israel through the B-5 visa program.

The U.S. economy stands only to gain by welcoming the brilliant minds behind Israel’s “Startup Nation” with open arms. It is a win-win opportunity for both countries that will add another knot in the rope that binds the two nations together –strengthening their well-established relationship.


To find out about professional, credible and comprehensive concierge business immigration services, as well as a variety of ancillary services, all of which are designed to specifically address USCIS’s concerns, contact e-Council Inc. at info@ecouncilinc.com.

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[1] https://il.usembassy.gov/our-relationship/policy-history/

[2] https://ustr.gov/countries-regions/europe-middle-east/middle-east/north-africa/israel

[3] https://il.usembassy.gov/our-relationship/policy-history/

[4] http://www.jpost.com/International/Israelis-now-eligible-for-E2-investor-visa-to-the-US

[5] http://www.eb5insights.com/2017/01/13/important-news-for-israeli-investors-and-entrepreneurs/

[6] http://www.forbes.com/sites/julianmitchell/2016/07/11/startup-nation-this-israeli-company-uses-military-principles-to-build-scalable-businesses/#2a3568d24c81