Berman's bill, H.R. 3992, passed the House in a 371-0 vote in March and passed the Senate by unanimous consent Thursday evening. It grants Israeli nationals access to temporary E-2 visas, which investors can use to travel to the United States to explore business opportunities.
According to Berman, Israel was already the largest source of foreign direct investment to the United States from the Middle East in 2010, and is a top 10 export market for the United States. But Berman said the E-2 visa program could allow Israel to further expand its investment in the United States, and encourage Israelis to visit California for that purpose.
"Israeli investors have a natural home in the San Fernando Valley and Southern California to expand their businesses, hire American workers, and strengthen the economy," he said.
With Senate passage, the bill goes to the White House for President Obama's signature into law.
E-2 visas allow foreign nationals to enter the United States for up to two years at a time for work related to their U.S. investment, and they can be renewed for up to two additional years at a time. Since 2003, Congress has been required to act to put new countries on the list of those eligible for the visas.