On the 11th of September 2014, Section 5a was added to the Regulations of Entry into Israel, 5734 - 1974 (hereinafter: the "Regulations of Entry"), which created new visa categories for foreign investors, and important workers regarding business initiatives.
Below I will summarize the main points which appear in Section 5a to the Regulations of Entry, and which potential American investors, who are interested in investing in the promising, up and coming Israeli economy, should be aware of.
This legislative amendment was enacted as a result of a similar arrangement which was enacted by the United Sates in 2012 and which allowed Israeli nationals to obtain an E-2 nonimmigrant investor's visa. Similarly, United States nationals will be eligible for a nonimmigrant status in Israel.
The countries which are subject to this arrangement (hereinafter: the "Arrangement Countries") are those listed in Appendix 2 to the Regulations of Entry. At the moment, the only country listed in Appendix 2 to the Regulations of Entry is the United States. However, the fact that there is an "Appendix 2" which includes the Arrangement Countries, indicates that other countries could theoretically be added to this list, as well (and it stands to reason that those countries would need to have a similar arrangement for Israeli investors).
This arrangement includes a B/5 Visa, which is the visa given to the relevant investor, a B/51 Visa, which is the visa given to an important worker in a business initiative, a B/52 Visa, which is the visa given to the spouse of the investor or the important worker, and a B/53 Visa, which is the visa given to the children (under the age of 21) of the investor or the important worker.
An important worker is either a worker in a position of very high management, or a worker with very special and unique qualifications, who will receive a high salary.
The holder of a B/52 Visa, i.e. the spouse of the investor or the important worker, will be entitled to work in Israel, as well.
All visas will be given after it is proven to the Advisory Committee that the applicants will leave the country after the timeframe which the Advisory Committee will decide upon.
The business initiative which the investor must invest in is defined as "an entity or a business [business activity which is not operated through a registered entity, but which the advisory committee suggested to recognize it as a business initiative], which is established in Israel, and which the control and management thereof is operated in Israel, in order to advance business, industrial, commercial, or an entrepreneur, type of activity, in order to create a financial profit in Israel".
An investor is defined as a "citizen of an Arrangement Country [currently only the United States], or an entity which is more than 50% owned and controlled by citizens of an Arrangement Country, which has invested in order to operate and develop a business initiative in Israel."
In order to implement this amendment, the Minister of Interior will designate a special Advisory Committee. This Advisory Committee will be comprised of an Interior Ministry official, a Ministry of Finance official (recommended by the Minister of Finance), two officials from the Ministry of Economy (recommended by the Minister of Economy), and a Foreign Ministry official (recommended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), who would all serve as members of the Advisory Committee.
The Advisory Board will review and decide upon whether to grant an investor, or an important worker, a visa, and will give its recommendation to the Minister of Interior. Furthermore, any recommendation made by the Advisory Committee will need to be made with the consent of at least three Advisory Committee members.
The preliminary conditions necessary for being eligible for the relevant visas in accordance to Section 5a of the Regulations of Entry are: (a) that prior to the submission of the application the investor has actively recruited a significant capital, which should be sufficient for the success of the business initiative, and which was already designated towards the business initiative (with all the risks involved), and which can testify to the investor's unequivocal commitment to the business initiative; (b) the investor is the owner of, and has the ability to legally control, the investment capital, which came from a legal source; (c) the business initiative has the potential to create financial growth for the economy and for the job market, and which contributes to the economic financial national interests of the State of Israel; (d) the business initiative is active, and it is not a marginal insignificant initiative, which would be defined as an initiative which is expected to cover only the livelihood of the investor and his family, except for an initiative that has a real tangible possibility to become a significant contribution to the Israeli economy within a reasonable timeframe.
Finally, even though Section 5a to the Regulations of Entry does include an exhaustive overview of the arrangement, and guidelines for its implementation, naturally, a clearer policy will still need to be enacted, and application forms will need to be created. However, since this arrangement has already been stipulated in the Regulations of Entry, any American investor, who may be interested in investing a significant capital in the promising Israeli market, and who would like to obtain a visa to live in Israel, can already begin to take tangible steps towards this goal.
The above-mentioned information naturally does not replace particular legal consultation with a licensed Israeli attorney, and therefore for any further questions in regard please feel free to contact advocate Michael Decker directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advocate Michael Decker is an Israeli, lives in Jerusalem with his wife and 3 children, is a partner at the Yehuda Raveh & Co. Law Offices, and serves as Chief Legal Advisor to the internal justice project, and the international combatting anti-Semitism project, of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice.