Pingree Reintroduces 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.
Today, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Congressman Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Congressman Greg Murphy (R-N.C.), and Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) reintroduced 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.
“The United States’ relationship with Iceland is critical for economic growth, especially in the Arctic region. For decades, this close and strategic relationship has made Iceland an important trade partner to the U.S. But under our current structure, Icelandic companies are unable to access the visas needed to establish working operations within our borders,” said 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.”
"Economic and strategic interests in the Arctic region,” said Larsen, a 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.”
“As co-chair of the Iceland Caucus, I know the importance of having a strong relationship between the United States and Iceland,” said Murphy. “Iceland serves as an important ally in our common pursuit of democracy and economic security, and this legislation would be a critical step in strengthening the ties between our two nations. The ICELAND Act would increase trade and expand economic opportunities, while also injecting capital into both of our economies.”
"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 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.”
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. and Iceland have a longstanding history of trade. As an export powerhouse in seafood ($247 million), optical and medical instruments ($75 million), beverages ($31 million), special other ($29 million), and machinery ($16 million), Iceland contributes to the commercial and trading interests of the U.S. economy. The U.S.
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 84 countries are eligible for E-1 and/or E-2 visa status. Iceland is one of only four European countries (Russia, Hungary, and Belarus) 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. In 2022, the AMIGOS Act was signed into law, granting E visa eligibility to citizens of Portugal.