WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has passed legislation adding Israel to the list of more than 75 countries eligible for temporary visas given to foreign nationals who invest in US-based businesses.

The Senate approved the measure Thursday, sending it to US President Barack Obama for his signature.

E-2 investor visas are given to foreign nationals who come to the United States to develop businesses in which they have invested.

Rep. Howard Berman, sponsor of the bill that passed the House last March, said Israel is a global leader in such areas as defense technologies, medicine, agriculture and clean energy, and its investments would create US jobs.

Berman said direct investment from Israel between 2000 and 2010 totaled $58.5 billion.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.