By: Ofir Buium, Senior Paralegal |
For the last eight months where we have lived with the COVID-19 pandemic , the understanding has been established by the Israeli authorities, that entry of foreign experts to work in Israel is essential to the Israeli economy. This is especially the case with projects that require a high level of knowledge, experience, and financial investment.
It is worth noting that officially entry to Israel remains closed to foreign nationals, however there are certain conditions by which foreign experts are allowed entry to Israel to work. The state of the pandemic in Israel has caused the government to change conditions for entry, however there are certain benchmarks which remain constant and allow for the successful mobilization of foreign experts to work in Israel.
The first major emphasis before the arrival of a foreign expert to work in Israel is to prove the need for the worker. Proof may take the form of a letter of support from the end customer or the local customer in Israel. Whether it is a subsidiary in Israel of a multinational corporation or an end customer who has signed a service agreement with a foreign company, the requirement is the same in both cases – the letter must support the necessity for the employee’s physical presence in Israel.
References should indicate the skills, experience, and/or knowledge of a foreign expert, and the business need for the expert in Israel. The Israeli authorities will request these references when examining an application for a work visa, and an application submitted without them will likely be rejected.
Recommendation of a relevant government ministry
The second benchmark is a recommendation from a relevant government ministry belonging to the field which is relevant to the particular project. For example: for a foreign expert to come to work in Israel in the the Hi-tech industry, a relevant recommendation must be given by the Ministry of Economy. Alternatively, for a foreign expert to come to work in Israel on a project in the field of electricity, a relevant recommendation must be given by the Ministry of Energy. As with the previous benchmark, the Israeli authorities will likely reject an application until a recommendation is received from a relevant government body.
The obligation for medical insurance and quarantines
The third benchmark is the obligation for health insurance and maintenance of the required period of isolation. Medical insurance must include COVID-19 coverage. is a mandatory requirement these days and is unlikely to change even when the entry gates of the State of Israel will officially open again. This is another milestone for the state authorities both before issuing a work permit and approving entry into Israel. Quarantine must be undertaken in an apartment, where no one but the foreign expert will stay, or in a hotel room.
Obligation to permit entry into Israel during COVID-19
Even after a work permit has been issued for a foreign expert, it does not mean that the expert can enter Israel. After the work permit is issued, it is necessary to apply for a special entry permit to the State of Israel, since officially Israel is still closed to the entry of foreign citizens. The entry permit will be issued by the same government ministry that provided the recommendation for a work permit, and it will usually be valid for 14 days.
Moreover, an entry permit must be issued upon each re-entry into Israel, even if a foreign expert has already completed the process of obtaining a work visa at the Ministry of Interior. For example, a foreign expert who is staying in Israel and has already completed the process of obtaining a work visa with the Ministry of Interior and wishes to travel for weekend leave in Italy, will not be able to return to Israel without a new entry permit.
Flexibility and patience
Perhaps the most important requirement is the need for flexibility and patience. The COVID-19 routine imposes a new reality on the people of Israel, and specifically upon its government authorities, are required to create new policy and processes as conditions change.
Any such change affects the process of moving foreign experts to Israel in terms of schedules and processes for obtaining a work permit, entry permit, and work visa. The most recent example is the current lockdown, which affects the mobility of the foreign experts and the timetable for the application process. As we have noted, the entry of foreign experts into Israel is essential for the Israeli economy, and we all hope that the day will come when words like COVID-19 or lockdown will become a thing of the past and foreign experts may once again enter freely.
KTA remains positioned to assist any aspect of entry of the foreign expert to Israel.