** LEGAL UPDATE **
According to an announcement from the U.S. Embassy in Israel, the United States and Israel have, after years of planning, signed a treaty investor agreement, such that citizens of Israel will soon be eligible for E-2 treaty investment visas. Their spouses and minor, unmarried children may also enter the U.S., in derivative status.
The E-2 visa allows businesspeople or entrepreneurs to work in the U.S. for a business in which they have invested; either a business they own, or one owned mostly (50% or more) by nationals of the applicant's country. It doesn't matter whether it's an existing business or a new one.
The E-2 is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning it is temporary, as contrasted to an immigrant visa or green card, which allows lawful permanent residence in the United States. Then again, E-2 visas are sometimes referred to as the next best thing to a U.S. green card, because of the possibility for long-term extensions.
Just how long an initial E-2 visa is good for depends on the country in question. The maximum time for which an initial E-2 visa from Israel can be granted is expected to be five years (which should soon be confirmed on the State Department's Visa Reciprocity Tables).
Nevertheless, there is no limit on the number of extensions you can apply for once you are in the U.S. on an E-2 visa, assuming you continue to qualify for and comply with the terms of the E-2 visa. You cannot, for example, start working for a different employer or in a different business than the one that served as your E-2 visa sponsor.
It's worth noting that your spouse, if any, may apply for a work permit once physically present in the United States.
For complete application instructions, see the E1/E2 Visa Scheduling page of the website of the U.S. Embassy in Israel.
Effective Date: May 1, 2019