Israel: Foreign experts’ spouses can work under derivative visa

Spouses of B-1 Foreign Expert Visa holders can work in Israel under a one-year pilot program announced by the Israeli Cabinet Ministers to encourage foreign talent to work in Israel’s technology industries and local branches of multinational organizations. Official regulations are expected to be published within 30 days.

Israel/China: Reciprocal ten-year multiple-entry visa agreement signed

The Israeli parliament has ratified a multiple-entry visa agreement with China under which Chinese business visitors and tourists can enter Israel multiple times with the same ten-year visa and vice versa. Until recently, both Israeli and Chinese tourists and business visitors had to obtain a single-entry visa for each trip. Visitors cannot conduct work under the visa, and may face penalties if they do.

Israel: Work permit processing changes require new forms and letters

Following last December’s regulations that created different work permit schemes for expert activities that require academic qualifications and those that do not, the Work Permit Unit of the Ministry of Interior (WPU) has started implementing the requirements for work permit applications. The requirements also apply retroactively to pending work permit applications. 

Israel: Individual sponsor affidavit now required for each employee

The Semech affidavit – a document provided by the sponsoring company containing the company’s legal obligations toward the foreign employee and Israel - must now be provided and signed with each employee’s individual B-1 work permit application, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Interior.

Israel: Government offices closed on May 12

Israeli government offices will be closed on May 12 for Israeli Independence Day. Work permits and visa applications will not be adjudicated in Israel and Israeli consular posts abroad may suspend their operations or conduct limited processing that day.

Israel: Minimum prevailing wage increased for foreign experts

The minimum monthly prevailing wage for foreign experts for 2016 has been increased to 18,668 NIS gross (up from 18,246 NIS in 2015).

Foreign nationals under Short Employment Authorization visas or STEP visas (short-term expedited process) are not affected by the increase.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Employers with foreign experts should ensure that they comply with the new minimum prevailing wage requirements established for 2016.

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:

Israel: Short-term work permit validity extended

The validity of the Short Employment Authorization (SEA) visa has been extended from 30 to 45 days per calendar year, according to an announcement by the Work Permit Unit and the Ministry of Interior. Thirty-day SEA visas will no longer be issued. Temporary regulations for the program have been published and will remain valid until July 31, 2016.

Israel: New visa category introduced for pre-approved technology companies

A new visa category called the Entrepreneur High-Tech visa will be available to certain foreign workers that arrive in Israel to work at one of twelve established and pre-approved technology companies, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Economics.  The main benefit of the visa is that it will most likely will not require company sponsorship and there will be no minimum salary.

According to the announcement, fifty Entrepreneur High-Tech visas will be available. The Entrepreneur High-Tech visa will be valid up to two years, with the possibility of renewals for those who will start a company.

Extensions limited for work permits and B-1 visas in Israel

Employers of foreign experts under work permits and B-1 visas can no longer extend such visas beyond 63 months, according to instruction to the Ministry of Interior by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy. Prior to this policy change, extensions were allowed in exceptional cases.  This instruction is expected to indefinitely delay pending work permit and B-1 visa extension applications.

The relevant ministries are re-evaluating the current extension process and further policy changes are likely.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Those with pending applications should contact their immigration professional to discuss the potential impact of this policy change.