By Senior Advocate, Shai Nimrodi |Kan-Tor & Acco

Offshore employment bears significant immigration challenges and questions. Where foreign nationals are being assigned to work for example, on an oil rig in the open Mediterranean sea, the question often arises as to the need for an Israeli work visa.

The answer to this question is determined according to the exact location of the rig or drilling platform – whether it is in the territorial waters of the country or not.

According to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the territorial waters of a country are a strip that extends a maximum of 12 nautical miles (which is about 22 kilometers) outward from the coast of a coastal country. This area is considered territory under the sovereignty of Israel, while allowing entry to foreign ships (military and civilian). Meaning, territorial waters are considered part of the territory of Israel and all its laws apply to them.

Therefore, where the rig is located within the territorial waters of Israel, then, according to the law, Israeli immigration law will apply. As such, a work visa will be required for any duration of work that is being done on the rig. In case of employment without a valid visa, it will be considered illegal work in the territory of Israel.

In case the rig is located outside the territorial waters of Israel, there will be no requirement for a working visa.

In a nutshell: when the work is done in the sea, less than 12 nautical miles from the shore of Israel, a B-1 working visa is required.

Kan-Tor & Acco are leaders in Immigration law in Israel and can assist with providing off-shore employees with work visas.