Pingree Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Boost Investment, Trade With Iceland
The ICELAND Act would make Icelanders eligible to work in the U.S. through nonimmigrant visas. Currently, Iceland is one of only a couple European countries not eligible for these visas, which are for individuals who invest and conduct trade in the U.S.
Washington, January 21, 2022
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Congressman Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska), and Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) introduced the Iceland Commercial and Economic Leadership for Arctic and National Development (ICELAND) Act, legislation that would add Iceland to the list of nations eligible for investment and trade in the U.S provided U.S. nationals are treated similarly by the government of Iceland. This bipartisan legislation would allow Icelanders to apply for E-1 and E-2 nonimmigrant work visas, which are designated for people of a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, with which the U.S. maintains a qualifying international agreement, or which has been deemed to be a qualifying country by legislation. Currently, Iceland is one of only a couple European countries not eligible for these visas.
“For decades, Iceland and the United States have benefited from a very close and strategic relationship—one that is critical to economic growth, especially in the Arctic region. In fact, the United States is Iceland´s largest trading partner, accounting for 16% of Iceland´s total trade in goods and services. But under our current structure, Icelandic companies are unable to access the visas needed to establish working operations within our borders,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “Congress has the power to take action and improve our long-standing relationship with Iceland, rectifying this imbalance through this straightforward and impactful legislation. By making these visas available to Icelanders, my bill will support stronger bilateral ties with Iceland and bolster new investment and economic growth for both our countries.”
“A strong relationship between the United States and Iceland is critical to U.S. economic and strategic interests in the Arctic region,” said Congressman Larsen, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Arctic Working Group.“This bipartisan bill provides a major boost in investment and trade between our two nations, including in Puget Sound which is home to the largest Icelandic population in the United States.”
"Passing the ICELAND Act not only enhances economic cooperation between Iceland and the United States, it forges a greater bond between two nations with shared regional interests,” said Congressman Courtney. “As NATO allies and partners in the Arctic, our two nations will undoubtedly work together to shape maritime trade and security policies governing the growing arctic sea lanes in the years to come. Expanding access to visas for trade and investment will bring growth to both our economies, and reinforce our commitment to an important strategic ally.”
The ICELAND Act was first introduced by Pingree in the 116th Congress.
In 1944, the United States was the first country to recognize the independent Republic of Iceland. As NATO members, Iceland and the United States share strategic interests in the Arctic region, as well as many political and cultural values, including mutual respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The U.S. is Iceland´s largest bilateral trading partner, accounting for 16% of Iceland´s total trade in goods and services. As an export powerhouse in seafood ($226 million), optical and medical instruments ($73 million), beverages ($26 million), machinery ($17 million), and iron and steel ($14 million), Iceland contributes to the commercial and trading interests of the U.S. economy.
E-1 and E-2 visas allow foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for a period of up to two years (with an option to renew on a rolling basis) to engage in substantial trade and investment activities. Nationals of 83 countries are eligible for E-1 and/or E-2 visa status. Iceland is one of only four European countries and of a small handful of NATO and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development member states that do not currently hold this status. Traditionally, E-1 and E-2 visas were extended to foreign citizens under “treaties of navigation”, however in recent years legislation is typically required to add nations to the list of eligible countries. In 2018, the KIWI Act was signed into law, granting citizens of New Zealand access to E visas. Most recently, the House passed the AMIGOS Act in June 2021, which would grant E visa eligibility to citizens of Portugal.