ISRAEL – New Regulations for Foreign Experts
Effective immediately, new regulations for the employment of foreign nationals have been announced. The new regulations significantly tighten the qualifying criteria for work visas, especially for professionals who do not require an academic qualification.
However only a first edition of the regulations has been published, so further amendments and clarifications are to be expected.
What has Changed?
1. The new regulation ‘’’distinguishes between expert professions that require academic qualifications, and those that do not’’’. For both categories there is a requirement to pay double the average salary. However, the new regulations determine the following for professionals who do ‘’’not’’’ require an academic education:
- The employer must pay the salary to an Israeli Bank in the name of the employee;
- The employer must provide a contract issued by an Israeli lawyer confirming that the employee's contract of employment in the home country complies with Israeli labor law, and with he employer's obligations under the regulations;
- Upon extension of the permit in this sub category, copies of wire transfers to the Israeli bank account of the employee must be provided by the employer, as well as bank confirmation that no-one except the employee can transfer or withdraw sums from the account.
- Where the employment is beyond three months, only professionals who require academic qualifications can be accompanied by family members with dependent immigration status.
- For professionals who do not require academic qualifications, the decision to allow dependents to accompany the employee is discretionary. For duration of stay below three months, dependents will not be allowed to stay in Israel.
2. The Ministry of Interior may require a salary higher than double the average salary, for professions in which the average salary is higher than double the general average salary.
3. Application for a work permit extension should be submitted at least 60 days before the expiration of the current employee's work visa.
4. Extraordinary well-justified applications for work beyond five years and three months from the first day of employment in Israel must be submitted at least six months prior to the start date of the assignment or expiration of the current visa. Otherwise the employee, if already working in Israel, will need to depart from Israel upon expiration of the current visa, and return only after approval of the extension.
5. The foreign expert will have to depart from Israel no later than 30 days after the termination of employment (if applicable) and provided their work visa is still valid.
6. The regulation sets a time frame for the process: the application will be initially checked within 21 days to verify that all documents are provided, and a decision will be made within an additional 30 days.
7. Any significant change in the work of an employee should be reported to the Ministry of Interior within seven work days. The regulations do not specify what amounts to a significant change, but it will certainly include, inter alia, changes of salary (decrease or increase), work location, job description or management structure, as well as resignation, layoff or early completion of the assignment.
8. Passports of employees and dependents must be valid for at least one year and three months from the beginning of the process. Previously, the regulation required two years and three months validity.
9. The Ministry of Interior is now instructed to check the visa applicant’s entries and departures from Israel, especially in the 12 months prior to the submission of the application.
The aim of this measure is to eliminate the issuance of visas to those who stayed and worked in Israel prior to the visa process. It is therefore recommended that visits to Israel prior to the work visa process will be limited to those employees expected to work.
10. Applications sponsored by a foreign company must provide a notarised Power of Attorney that has been certified by the Israeli Consulate abroad, authorising the Israeli representative (lawyer) to act on the company's behalf for the submission of the work permit and visa.
11. The regulation sets out the committee structure and personnel, and holds that decisions can be made by email or telephone, apart from normal committee meetings. The committee has the discretion to forward the application to other government Ministries or bodies, to obtain their opinion on a specific application.
12. Upon visa processing at the Consulate, the applicant will have to provide a Police Clearance issued in the last 12 months, as well as medical clearance conducted at a local clinic or hospital accredited by the relevant Israeli Consulate. The Consulate is authorised to ask for any additional documents as they see fit.
13. Entry into Israel following consular processing will have to be done through Ben-Gurion Airport.
- Ensure that new and extension work visa applications adhere to the new regulations;
- Be prepared for further amendments to and clarifications of the new regulations in the coming weeks.