By Senior Partner Amit Acco |

The employment of foreign specialists reflecting the massive entry of international business to the country. Various statutes pertaining to this area of law may be found scattered throughout numerous laws enacted by the Israeli “Knesset” (Parliament).

The general rules governing the employment of foreign workers in Israel are found in the Entry to Israel Law – 1952 and the regulations thereto. Other statutes containing provisions relating to work permits include The Employment Service Law 1959; The Support of Capital Investment Law 1959; and The Foreign Workers Law 1991 (prohibition of illegal employment and assurance of fair working conditions).

Unlike U.S. immigration law, Israeli law generally provides for only one type of work status relating to the employment of foreign professionals and non-professionals: the B-1 visa. Thus, the B -1 category includes blue-collar workers, foreign experts, academic staff, and the like. All applications for an Israeli work permit must be sponsored by a local Israeli employer.

B – 1 Procedure

There are several of types of B-1 work visa in Israel, depending on the type of work to be done, the company to be worked at (Hi-Tech or non-Hi-Tech) and the duration of the assignment in Israel.

B-1 Work Visa for 1 year or up to 3 month

This work permit and visa are valid for foreign experts who engage in professions requiring higher education (e.g. Engineers for Research and Development Teams, Auditors, Senior Executives, and other Senior Supervisors). As a prerequisite for applying in this category, the expert must present proof of the degree obtained issued by the academic institution.

The prevailing wage for an expert is double the average wage in Israel. In some cases, the Ministry of Interior may require a higher salary, in individual professions where the average wage is higher than the average wage in the overall economy.

Work permits of this kind are typically valid for a period of up to one year or up to 3 months “STEP” from the date of approval of the application. The employer may apply for an extension of the permit for an additional period, along with the required documents. In general, the maximum stay in this status is up to five years and three months from the start of the employment.

The visa requires work permit submission in Israel, followed by consular processing.

B-1 Work Visa for up to 45 days

This work permit and visa are valid for foreign experts who engage up to 45 days in Israel per calendar year “SEA”), for expedited processing of requests for employment in Israel of a foreign expert, for up to 45 days in a calendar year.
This SEA procedure regulates the expeditious procedure for the legal employment of a foreign expert, with a valid passport, of a country whose exempt citizens authorize a B / 2 visit invited to Israel for the purpose of performing a temporary assignment in the area of special expertise for periods not exceeding 45 days per year.

This visa cannot be extended. In case the work permit expires on December 31 of a calendar year, the company, who wishes to employ the foreign expert, may submit a new SEA application on January 1 whilst the foreign expert is out of Israel. . There are relevant government fees that are set according to the requested duration of employment.

Hi-Tech Visas “HIT 365” and HIT “90”

The Ministry of Interior published regulations relating to the employment of foreign experts in high-tech and cyber companies with the following benefits and advantages:

  • The process can only be applied to foreign nationals of a visa waiver program.
  • Online submission of working permit application.
  • The work permit will be valid for up to 1 year (extension will be allowed up to 5 years and 3 months).
  • Processing time stating 6 working days.
  • The company needs to be eligible as a High Tech company. The approval is subject to the Innovation Authority discretion.
  • Entry to Israel of the applicant will be allowed immediately after approval of the work permit, without the need to undergo consular processing.
  • B-1 Work visa will be required to be processed in the employee’s passport, at the Ministry of Interior in Israel, within 2 workdays of entry into Israel.
  • Previous stays in Israel of the applicant will be reviewed by the Ministry of Interior upon visa processing, to determine full compliance with immigration law and regulations during past visits (overstays, illegal work, etc.)
  • The regulations require less documentation to be provided by both employer and employee.
  • The prevailing wage requirement remains to be at least double the average salary in Israel, currently NIS 19,604 per month.

The HIT 365 visa allows the spouse of Foreign Employee to work in Israel without limitations.

Other types of special visas

There are several other types of work permits and visas available for foreign nationals in Israel:

Unique Technologies and Mechanization – This procedure is designated for mega projects in the field of infrastructures such as ports, trains and power plants, in cases where the work can only be performed by foreign workers possessing unique knowledge and expertise in the field.

Journalist B-1 Work Visa – This procedure is designated for Foreign Journalists can enter Israel as tourist and apply for a Temporary Journalist Card from the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), and later apply for a B-1 work visa from the Ministry of Interior

B-1 for Scientist – This procedure is designated for  foreign lectures or researchers (afterwards: “B-1 Scientist”) who hold master’s degree, and wish to work in a recognized institution of Higher Education by in Israel

B-1 Post Doctoral Research Visa Process – This procedure is designated for

Jewish Employees – Several options allows those who qualify for Alyiah to obtain Citizenship, Residency or Work visas.

Employment Sanctions

The employment of a foreign purofessional without a valid work permit carries with it significant monetary sanctions with regard to employers. Additionally, the managers of repeat corporate offenders are subject to possible imprisonment. An individual found working without a valid work permit is subject to deportation.

COVID-19 and work of Foreign Experts in Israel

Entry to Israel is approved for a limited number of new experts defined as necessary for national infrastructures and/or for the functional continuity of the economy.

`The approval will be granted subject to the recommendation of the relevant Government Ministry and with the authorization of the Foreign Workers Administration in the Population and Immigration Authority as specified in the procedure (Entry of Experts Procedure). The request will be made to the Ministry of Interior and the relevant Government Ministry.