Welcome New Treaty Trader and Investors from New Zealand and Israel

New Zealand and the KIWI Act

Recently, Mission New Zealand for the U.S. Department of State posted the announcement that as of June 10, 2019, citizens and businesses of New Zealand will be able to apply for E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visas to invest in and trade with the United States (U.S.).  The U.S. Embassy posted several videos on its website concerning how to apply for E-1 and E-2 visas in addition to a video regarding the application process.  The process requires the submission of the support documents submitted in hard copy within three days of paying the U.S. visa application fee. They indicate that an application should normally take approximately ten days at least to review, but that during peak times, the review time frame may extend to three weeks.

This development was the result of President Trump’s signing of the Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act (KIWI Act) on August 2, 2018.  The KIWI Act requires that U.S. citizens be provided reciprocal treatment by New Zealand.  New Zealand Immigration’s website  should be monitored for developments on the process for applications to be filed by U.S. investors.

In addition, on June 10, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted that New Zealand nationals within the U.S. as lawful nonimmigrants may now apply for changes of status to E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrant investors.

Israel E-2 Nonimmigrant Category Added

After many years of waiting, E-2 treaty investor visas finally became available for Israeli citizens on May 1, 2019.  On April 3, 1954, a treaty between the U.S. and Israel went into force allowing nationals of Israel to apply for E-1 visas, but E-2 nonimmigrant status was not available until after Public Law 112-130 (June 8, 2012) was passed.  Then, even after passage, it was not until 2019 that the U.S. Department of State finally confirmed that Israel offered reciprocal E-2 options to U.S. nationals as of May 1.  The investor visa category offered to U.S. citizens (B-5) may be issued for an initial two years after an application is submitted to one of four diplomatic missions in the U.S.

Applications are processed for Israeli nationals at the U.S. Embassy’s Branch Office in Tel Aviv. The process applied in Israel does require the initial submission of a company registration along with the first individual applicant’s information.  The posted time for a preliminary review of the application is four to eight weeks and the application is submitted via mail – not electronically.  Currently, cases are taking about eight weeks initially to process for the consular interview.

On April 22, 2019, USCIS also posted an announcement noting that Israeli nationals lawfully in the U.S. as nonimmigrants could commence filing for changes of status to E-2 status starting May 1.

Points to Remember  

  1. The E-2 visa is one of the main paths for nonimmigrants to invest in the U.S. or to become E-2 employees (possessing the qualifying nationality and performing qualifying duties) of the E-2 business entity established. The E-2 visa is also an opportunity for U.S. businesses seeking investors to consider, if foreign control of the business is acceptable.
  2. For dependents to qualify for an E-2 visa, they must be a spouse or a child under the age of 21 and unmarried, but they do not have to be the same nationality as the principal E-2 investor/entity. An E-2 spouse may apply for work authorization upon admission to the U.S.
  3. A cautionary note about entering the U.S. as a B-1 business visitor (includes ESTA admission under the Visa Waiver Program), is that a B-1 visitor may enter the U.S. as to the initial set up of a company for investment purposes, but MAY NOT use the B-1 visa to manage daily operations.  In addition, a B-1 visitor MAY NOT be paid by a U.S. entity for services performed in the U.S.   Please refer to the list of permissible B-1 activities provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and seek legal counsel. The consequences can be severe, if CBP determines that an applicant for B-1 admission has been abusing the B-1 category and performing impermissible duties in the U.S.   The potential result can be a lifetime bar from admission to the U.S. without obtaining a discretionary waiver.

It is also important to remember that a foreign national admitted as a B-1 business visitor may engage in tourism, but if the foreign national is admitted as a B-2 tourist – business activities are not permissible.

Below are relevant excerpts from the list of permissible activities created by CBP:

About the Author:

Kathleen Campbell Walker is a member of Dickinson Wright PLLC and serves as a co-chair of the Immigration Practice Group. She is a former national president and general counsel of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  She serves on the AILA Board of Governors.  In 2014, she received the AILA Founder’s Award, which is awarded from time to time to the person or entity, who has had the most substantial impact on the field of immigration law or policy in the preceding period (established 1950).  She has testified several times before Congress on matters of immigration policy and border security. She may be reached in our El Paso, TX office at 915-541-9360 and you may view Kathleen’s bio here.