By Ofir Buium | Senior Paralegal

Consular procedures in a foreign mission of the destination country in Israel are an essential and integral part of any work visa application. The consular procedure includes the review of supporting documents and justifications for the work of a person in a specific country. In addition, foreign consulates act as ‘gatekeepers’ that can exercise their discretion regarding the granting work permits.

The most notable change during the Corona era is the availability and activity of foreign consulates in Israel: some consulates have significantly reduced the issuance of work visas, while others have tightened their requirements. These changes have a directly affect over the processing times of consular procedures, and extend them accordingly. Another notable change is the need to obtain medical documents, health insurance and Covid examinations (often more than once) as part of the application process and close to the date of the interview. These requirements differ from consulate to consulate, and vary frequently, in many cases without prior notice.

Perhaps the most significant change in the Covid era is the increase of weight of consulates discretion, even more significantly than in the past regarding issuing or not issuing work visas. By virtue of being the ‘gatekeeper’ that can directly assess a candidate, consulates discretion has increased and it is in their authority to extend, change or adjust consular proceedings as see fit from case to case. Consulates have the authority to change decisions of their country’s immigration authorities if a suitable cause is found. This is especially true when applying for work visas in countries that also require business travelers to be equipped in advance with a suitable visa, since in such cases the consular procedure is the main process and not just the supplement.

Given the above, it is necessary to approach the consular procedure in a considered and prudent manner, while properly planning a work permit application in order to pass the consular procedure safely, especially during the Covid era, when there is a significant need to prove the necessity of transition to a specific country for work purposes.