Israel: Stricter regulations imposed for foreign workers and experts

A new regulation imposes stricter documentary and salary payment requirements for foreign experts, and process and entry changes for work visa applicants. The following are descriptions of key changes:

Foreign Experts

The regulation distinguishes between expert activities that require academic qualifications, and those that do not. For those who do not require an academic education, the employer must:

  • pay the salary from an Israeli bank account;
  • provide a contract issued by an Israeli lawyer confirming that the worker’s employment contract in the home country complies with Israeli labor law and the employer's obligations under the law; and
  • when seeking an extension of this type of visa, provide copies of its wire transfers and bank confirmation that only the employee can withdraw from the account.

Employers hiring foreign nationals in either category must pay the foreign worker at least double the average salary in Israel.

Foreign experts must depart Israel no later than 30 days after the expiration of the work visa. During this period, the employee can make departure arrangements but cannot work.

Experts’ Dependants

Experts performing activities that require academic qualifications staying in Israel for over three months can sponsor dependants.

Foreign experts performing activities that do not require academic qualifications cannot sponsor dependants if the assignment is under three months. If they are staying for over three months, the decision is left to the discretion of the immigration authorities. 

Work Permit Extension Deadlines

Work permit extension applications should be submitted at least 60 days before the expiration of the employee's work visa.

Work permit 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 assignment start date or expiration of the current visa. Those seeking an extension who miss the deadline must depart Israel upon expiration of the current visa, and can only return after approval of the extension.

Reporting Work-Related Changes

Any significant change in the work conditions of a foreign worker must now be reported to the Ministry of Interior within seven business days of the change. The regulations do not specify the definition of a significant change, but it includes a change is salary, work location, job description, management structure, early departure or the resignation or lay-off of the employee, among other changes.

Passport Validity

Employees’ and dependants’ passports must be valid for at least one year and three months from the beginning of the respective application process, instead of the previous two years and three months’ validity. 

Minimum Salary Changes

The Ministry of Interior may require a higher than double the average salary for professions in which the average salary is higher than double the average salary.

Process and Entry Changes

To eliminate the issuance of visas to those who overstayed their visas in the past, the Ministry of Interior will now check that each visa applicant left Israel with no overstays, especially in the twelve months prior to the submission of the application.

Applicants sponsored by a foreign company must provide a notarized Power of Attorney authorizing the Israeli lawyer to submit the work permit and visa application on the company's behalf.

Consular applicants must:

  • provide a police clearance certificate issued in the last twelve months;
  • undergo a medical examination at an accredited local clinic or hospital; and
  • enter Israel through Ben-Gurion Airport.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Foreign workers and experts and their employers should be aware of the new laws, which affects deadlines, salary payments, entry rights and other important aspects of their stay.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK