By Amit Acco, Partner |
Recently we are witnessing more and more projects in the West Bank that require foreign experts to arrive for work for machine installation, project management, special constructions, and engineering, etc.
It is often asked what visa if any, the foreign experts need to be able to work in the west bank.
West Bank – Brief Description
The West Bank as a geographic place is bordered by Jordan and the Dead Sea to the east and by Israel to the south, west, and north.
The Oslo Agreement, signed between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel, created administrative districts with varying levels of Palestinian autonomy within each area.
Area A is within full civil and security control by the Palestinian Authority. This area includes eight Palestinian cities and their surrounding areas (Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho, and 80 percent of Hebron), with no Israeli settlements. Entry into this area is forbidden to all Israeli citizens.
Entry to the West Bank from Israel
Access to the West Bank is only possible via either Israel or Jordan. The most common routes are the Qalandia checkpoint – between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Therefore, the main route of arriving is to fly to Ben Gurion airport and from there to travel to Qalandia checkpoint. This is normally a 45 minutes travel.
What Visa is Required for Work in Area A?
Under Israeli law, a pre-entry B/2 visitor’s visa is granted upon entry to the nationals of EU, US, Canada, Australia, UK, and other “visa waiver nationals”. This visa allows non-work-related purpose as a visit, tourism, business meetings. Employment/work is NOT permitted in Israel or Palestinian Area B, C with a B/2 visitor visa.
However, where the employees expected to be done in the Palestinian territory “A”, the company will need to apply, before travel, with a detailed application for visa instructions to the COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) to allow entry for such work in the West Bank.
The (COGAT) implements the government’s civilian policy within the territories of Judea and Samaria and towards the Gaza Strip. COGAT is responsible for implementing the civilian policy within Judea and Samaria and towards the Gaza Strip, in coordination and cooperation with officials from defense and government offices in various fields.
The COGAT normally instructs to process a visa through them and the Israeli Ministry of Interior before travel rather than entering Israel on a B/2 visa.
For this purpose, a special application should be submitted to COGAT to describe the nature of the project and/or job, details of the employee, duration of the assignments, etc.