Washington, DC – The House Judiciary Committee today approved a bipartisan bill (H.R. 3992) to add Israel to the list of countries eligible for E-2 visas. These visas allow foreign investors to come to the U.S. temporarily in order to spur job creation and economic growth here. The bill was reported favorably to the House floor by voice vote.

Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the bill’s sponsor, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), an original cosponsor of the legislation, today praised the Committee vote.

Chairman Smith: “I thank my colleague, Congressman Berman, for introducing a commonsense bill that helps spur job creation and economic growth here at home and invests in our relationship with one of our closest allies. 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.”

Rep. Berman: “Israeli business leaders investing in the United States will create more jobs for American workers and help strengthen the economies of both countries. Israel is one of our closest allies and a leading investor in the U.S. economy. This legislation further strengthens this bond, generating increased Israeli investment in the U.S. economy while helping create domestic jobs.”

Other original cosponsors include Immigration Subcommittee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

The Senate companion bill, S.921, was introduced by Senators Schumer, Kirk and Kyl.

Background on E-2 Investor Visas: E-2 visas are temporary visas available to foreign nationals who must be a national of a country with which the United States has a treaty. To qualify for the visa, a foreign national must come to the U.S. in order to develop and direct the operations of a business in which the applicant has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. The E-2 visa is based on the principle that foreign direct investment into the U.S. spurs economic growth.

Currently, the nationals from over 75 countries are eligible for E-2 visas – from Albania to the Ukraine. In fiscal year 2010, over 25,000 foreign investors were granted E-2 visas.