Work Permits for Israel
A foreign national who has been assigned to work in Israel must obtain a work permit and an appropriate entry visa prior to entering Israel. Israeli law generally provides for only one type of work status, relating to the employment of foreign professionals and non-professionals alike: the B-1 visa category.
Applying for a work permit for Israel
The process for obtaining a B-1 visa includes four separate bureaucratic steps:
- Submission of a work permit application to the Semech Unit operated by the Ministry of Interior (MOI)
- Filing of a subsequent visa application with the MOI
- Issuance of a short term B-1 visa at the relevant Israeli consular post abroad, prior to entry into Israel
- Extension of the B-1 visa at the MOI after arrival in Israel, and the obtaining of a multiple-entry visa for the entire B-1 approval period
In particular cases, the assignee may also be regarded as an "Approved Specialist", enjoying substantial tax benefits.
Following are details on the aforementioned four steps:
Work permit application
An Israeli employer (or a well-known global/foreign company) must be the official sponsor of a work permit application. Therefore, there is no method for a self-employment working permit. A work permit application must contain a detailed description of the job position offered and provide complete details relating to the prospective employee, including their educational background, professional experience and proposed salary in Israel. Processing times for work permit applications usually range from four to eight weeks.
If the application is approved, the Semech Unit will submit a B-1 recommendation letter to the MOI.
Visa application and consular processing
Upon receiving the Semech Unit's recommendation letter, an application should be filed with the MOI, requesting that it instructs the relevant Israeli consular post abroad to issue a B-1 work visa to the foreign national. Processing times for this notice usually range from two to four weeks.
Under MOI regulations, B-1 visas must be applied for at the consulate prior to entering Israel, as petitions for B-1 visa classification cannot be made by way of change of status.
Visa extension in Israel
Following entry into Israel, an application for a new B-1 visa stamp, for an extended validity period (up to one year) and valid for multiple entries, must be processed at the local MOI. This last step should be completed as soon as the individual arrives in Israel, and prior to any departure.
Any departure from Israel before such visa is provided will cancel the applicant's B-1 visa obtained at the consulate, and will require reprocessing of the visa at the consulate. The applicant should therefore advise their sponsor prior to the date of their expected arrival in Israel in order to make sure that they receive instructions regarding the required steps to complete the visa process.
B-1 visa: STEP (Short Term Expedited Process)
This process is for work permit applications submitted by foreign nationals seeking to enter Israel for up to 90 days to perform duties such as technical work activities. Work permit applications submitted under the STEP are not subject to the normal prevailing wage obligations and also enjoy expedited processing.
Both foreign and Israeli companies can sponsor a foreign national under the STEP process. To take advantage of the STEP, the foreign national must possess unique knowledge and expertise that are relevant to their proposed work activities.