[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 45 (Monday, March 19, 2012)]
[House]
[Pages H1372-H1374]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




             ALLOWING ISRAELI ELIGIBILITY FOR CERTAIN VISAS

  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and 
pass the bill (H.R. 3992) to allow otherwise eligible Israeli nationals 
to receive E 2 nonimmigrant visas if similarly situated United States 
nationals are eligible for similar nonimmigrant status in Israel.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 3992

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. NONIMMIGRANT TRADERS AND INVESTORS FROM ISRAEL.

       Israel shall be deemed to be a foreign state described in 
     section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act 
     (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(E)) for purposes of clauses (i) and 
     (ii) of such section if the Government of Israel provides 
     similar nonimmigrant status to nationals of the United 
     States.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Smith) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Berman) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas.


                             General Leave

  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend 
their remarks and include extraneous materials on H.R. 3992 currently 
under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  H.R. 3992 is legislation that was introduced by our colleague, Howard 
Berman, which I have cosponsored, and I appreciate his leadership on 
this issue. The Judiciary Committee approved this legislation by voice 
vote. The bill adds Israel to the list of countries eligible for E 2 
visas.
  E 2 visas are temporary visas available for foreign investors. A 
foreign national may be admitted initially for a period of 2 years 
under an E 2 visa and can apply for extensions in 2-year increments. 
The U.S. has entered into treaties of commerce that contain language 
similar to the E 2 visas since at least 1815, when we entered into a 
Convention to Regulate Commerce with the United Kingdom.
  Currently, the nationals of over 75 countries are eligible for E 2 
status, from Albania to the Ukraine. In fiscal year 2010, over 25,000 
aliens, including dependents, were granted E 2 visas.
  In the past, countries became eligible for the E 2 program through 
treaties signed with the U.S. However, in 2003, the Judiciary Committee 
reached an understanding with the U.S. Trade Representative that, from 
now on, no immigration provisions were to be included in future trade 
agreements. As a result, specific legislation would be required to add 
countries to the E 2 program.
  In order to qualify for an E 2 visa, an investor has to have a 
controlling interest in and demonstrate that they will develop and 
direct the enterprise. In addition, the investor has to invest and put 
at risk a substantial amount of capital. This is measured by a 
proportionality test: the higher the cost of the business, the lower 
the proportion of its total value the investment has to represent. In 
addition, the investment has to be large enough to ensure the 
investor's financial commitment to the enterprise and that the investor 
will successfully develop and direct it.
  I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3992, and I again thank my 
colleague, Congressman Berman of California, for introducing a 
commonsense bill that helps spur job creation and economic growth here 
at home and also invest in our relationship with one of our closest 
allies. The investments in 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 the United States and Israel.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BERMAN. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3992, a bill 
that places Israel on the list of countries eligible to receive E 2 
treaty investor visas, and I yield myself as much time as I may 
consume.
  I would like to begin by thanking Chairman Smith for his strong 
support of this bipartisan legislation and for moving it quickly 
through the Judiciary Committee and to the floor. I also want to thank, 
along with Chairman Smith, Chairman Gallegly and Ranking Member Lofgren 
of the Immigration Subcommittee, as well as Chairman Ros-Lehtinen of 
the Foreign Affairs Committee, for their support and authorship of this 
legislation.
  This legislation will encourage further investment by Israeli 
business leaders in the United States and lead to the creation of more 
jobs for American workers. The scope of the legislation is narrow, but 
at a time when so many Americans are looking for work and families are 
struggling to make ends meet, every little bit helps.
  Israel is one of our closest allies and a leading investor in the 
U.S. economy.

[[Page H1373]]

H.R. 3992 will further strengthen the bonds between our two countries 
while helping to create U.S. jobs.
  There are many hundreds of Israeli companies present in the United 
States and hundreds of U.S. companies doing business in Israel. E 2 
treaty investor visas will enable the business communities in both 
countries to expand their bilateral investment flow.
  Currently, there are over 75 countries whose nationals are eligible 
for E 2 treaty investor visas. These nations range from Albania to Togo 
to the United Kingdom. This bill adds merely one country, which is 
already a significant business partner and contributor to our economic 
strength. We should be doing everything we can to bring additional 
Israeli innovations and technologies to the United States.
  Israel is an incubator of entrepreneurship, already a global leader 
in security and defense technologies, medicine, agriculture, and clean 
energy. Our Nation will benefit greatly from bringing their innovations 
and scientific advancements to our shores; it would spur investment and 
introduce new products to the U.S. market.
  Recently, a Tel-Aviv biotechnology company developed an advanced cell 
therapy product that has been used in Israel to achieve a drastic 
reduction of the mortality rate in patients with deep wound infections. 
The company invested in an FDA-approved facility in the United States 
that is engaged in the clinical production of cells.

                              {time}  1720

  This Israeli biotech company needs to temporarily transfer one of 
their executives to the United States to develop, direct, and to 
oversee local manufacturing to ensure a successful operation. An E 2 
treaty investor visa would facilitate this process and allow other 
Israeli entrepreneurs to explore similar business opportunities with 
the confidence and assurance that they will be able to monitor their 
investments.
  By passing this bill, Israeli investors are one step closer to 
expanding their business to our country and creating jobs for 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 urge my colleagues to support its 
passage.
  Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the remarks of the 
ranking member of the Immigration Subcommittee, Ms. Lofgren, be 
included in the Record.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman's request will be covered by 
the earlier general leave order.
  Mr. BERMAN. I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from 
Michigan (Mr. Conyers), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.
  Mr. CONYERS. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  I'm glad that we can make this change of bringing together these 
deserving countries. I hope the bipartisan efforts coming from the 
Committee on the Judiciary, from both Chairman Smith and from senior 
member Howard Berman, will be a foundation on which to consider 
additional immigration reforms, reforms that are desperately needed to 
help families and businesses across this country.
  I rise today in support of H.R. 3992, a bipartisan proposal that 
would make Israel eligible to participate in the E 2 ``Treaty 
Investor'' visa program, which is now available to 79 other countries.
  Although larger reform of our immigration laws has remained elusive, 
there are small places where we can work across the aisle to pass 
commonsense legislation and achieve incremental, but important, 
results.
  H.R. 3992--introduced by my friend, Representative Howard Berman, 
along with Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, Foreign Affairs Chairwoman 
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Immigration Subcommittee Ranking Member Zoe 
Lofgren--is just such a bill.
  This bipartisan bill allows citizens of Israel to come to the United 
States on E 2 visas for ``treaty investors'' if those individuals make 
substantial investments in businesses in the United States. And, those 
visas would only be available if Israel provides similar visas to U.S. 
citizens seeking to invest in businesses in Israel.
  As I just mentioned, the E 2 visa program is currently available to 
citizens of 79 other countries. This list includes our closest allies 
and trading partners, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, 
Japan, Jordan, and South Korea. And it also includes countries that are 
perhaps less obvious, such as Pakistan, Honduras, Liberia, and Iran.
  With a population of less than 8 million people, Israel is the United 
States' 22nd largest export market. Yet Israel is not currently 
eligible for E 2 visas. By expanding eligibility to Israeli citizens, 
and by Israel's expansion of similar visas to U.S. investors, we should 
see an increase in trade and investment beneficial to both nations.
  I am glad that we can make this change for Israel and I look forward 
to working with Howard Berman and Chairman Smith to afford this same 
opportunity to perhaps additional, deserving countries.
  I also hope today's bipartisan efforts will provide a foundation to 
consider additional immigration reforms--reforms that are desperately 
needed to help businesses and families in my district in Michigan and 
across the country.
  I thank Mr. Berman for introducing this bill. And I 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 this legislation.
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my 
time.


                         Parliamentary Inquiry

  Mr. BERMAN. Madam Speaker, a parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman will state his inquiry.
  Mr. BERMAN. I would like to introduce the entire statement of Ranking 
Member Conyers and subcommittee Ranking Member Lofgren into the Record. 
I am unclear whether I am able to do that at this time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Permission for all Members to revise and 
extend their remarks was previously obtained by unanimous consent.
  Mr. BERMAN. Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  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.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 3992.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and 
nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.

[[Page H1374]]



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