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Public Statements

Allowing Israeli Eligibility for Certain Visas

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3992. Introduced by my friend and colleague from California, Howard Berman, this bipartisan bill will allow Israeli nationals who want to make substantial investments and create jobs in the United States to obtain E 2 ``treaty investor'' visas, if the Government of Israel extends an equivalent status to U.S. citizens.

An E 2 visa is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa that permits foreign investors to temporarily live and work in the U.S. if they make a substantial investment in an enterprise in the United States. Nationals of 79 countries are now eligible for E 2 visa status, including almost all of the United States' allies and trading partners.

Yet Israel, one of our closest and dearest allies, is not on the list.

Since April 3, 1954, Israel has been eligible for E 1 visas through the E 1 ``treaty trader'' program, which makes temporary visas available to employees of firms engaged in substantial trade between our two countries. These visas helped increase trade between our two nations, which saw trade exceeding $36 billion in 2009. In 2009, Israel was the company to invest cash and inventory into a medical equipment company based in Massachusetts.

The E 2 visa program would create an incentive for these investments, and many others. Those investments in the United States will benefit both countries economically, helping to spur economic growth and job creation. And all of this with one of our country's closest and most steadfast allies. This bill is essentially a no-brainer.

It is not easy these days to find common ground on immigration issues. Mr. Berman deserves a good deal of credit for finding an area where we can find such common ground and for working with our Republican colleagues to make this a bipartisan bill. I want to extend my thanks to him for identifying this deficiency in our current immigration law, crafting a smart solution and then marshaling broad support for its adoption. Our country will be more prosperous, as will Israel, as a result of his efforts.

I also thank Chairman Smith and Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of the Foreign Affairs Committee for their support of this important piece of legislation.

I urge my colleagues to support the bill.

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