By Amit Acco, Partner

In recent years, the promotion of bilateral work agreements between the State of Israel and the countries of origin of foreign workers has become a central aspect of regulating their employment. The purpose of these agreements is to establish a direct recruitment mechanism aimed at preventing the collection of illegal mediation fees from foreign workers and human trafficking by private intermediaries.

The Population and Immigration Authority oversees the inter-ministerial team tasked with advising the Minister of Interior on issues related to the countries of origin of foreign workers, their recruitment, arrival, and integration in Israel. This team guides the processes associated with signing bilateral agreements and provides guidance to the relevant government ministries on how to implement the agreed-upon procedures.

Read More About Foreign Workers to Arrive Without Bilateral Work Agreements

Currently, the bilateral Work recruitment pathway exists in every sector where the government permits the employment of foreign workers, with the exception of foreign experts

  • Agriculture Sector: The first sector to witness the recruitment and employment of workers under bilateral work agreements. Agreements are currently in place with Thailand and Sri Lanka.
  • Construction Sector: The first agreement was signed with the Bulgarian government in 2011, followed by agreements with Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine. Most recently, an agreement was reached with China.
  • Caregiving Sector: In 2016, a pilot program was initiated for the recruitment and employment of foreign workers through bilateral agreements, with agreements signed with Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Additional bilateral work agreements are added each year, leading to an increasing number of workers being recruited and employed under such agreements. Israel stands out globally as one of the leading countries utilizing bilateral agreements as a regulatory mechanism for the recruitment and employment of foreign workers.

Iron Sword Temporary Suspension of Bilateral Work Agreement 

Due to labor shortages stemming from the commencement of the Israel-Hamas war, the Israeli government has suspended, for a period of three months, until 20 February 2024. the exclusivity of bilateral work agreements with countries such as Mainland China, Moldova, Philippines, and Thailand, which governed the recruitment of foreign nationals in the construction and agriculture sector. This suspension will allow Israel to recruit foreign nationals from other countries to work in Israel in these sectors and fill labor gaps.  The employees will receive B-1 work visa with 1 year duration.