Washington, DC – The House of Representatives today passed 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 passed by the House by a vote of 371-0. The House Judiciary Committee approved this bill in February by voice vote.

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

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: “With passage of this bill, Israeli investors are one step closer to expanding their businesses to the United States and creating jobs for hardworking American workers. Israel is a trusted friend and a special ally, and this legislation expands business opportunities that will provide economic benefits for both countries. I thank Chairman Smith for his strong support of this bipartisan legislation and look forward to its speedy passage in the Senate.”

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.