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.

Legally married spouses can obtain a derivative visa that will offer an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that does not require sponsorship. The duration of stay under the Spouse EAD is the same as that of the principal visa holder, which is currently one year, renewable annually for up to five years and three months total.  A spouse can apply to extend an EAD visa for the same duration as that of the B-1 Foreign Expert’s extension.

Advantages of the New Program

Spouses under the new EAD can work part time or full time, in an office or remotely. Employers must pay dependants above the Israeli minimum wage (currently 4,650 NIS per month gross for full-time work).

Requirements for B-1 Foreign Expert Visa Holders

The B-1 Foreign Expert must work as a foreign expert or in a senior management position, and must be employed by an established technological or multinational company that meets one of the following standards:

  • An Israeli company operating abroad with at least 100 employees in Israel;
  • A start-up company authorized by the Chief Scientists Office; or
  • A start-up company eligible for benefits pursuant to the Israel Angel Investment Law (the Israeli government is expected to provide a list of eligible companies soon).

The forthcoming formal regulations may redefine the above categories. The foreign expert must earn at least double the average salary in Israel (currently 18,600 NIS per month gross).

The sponsoring company must demonstrate that it is either impossible or difficult to fill the position with an Israeli national before hiring a foreign expert. The foreign expert must have an academic degree or be highly skilled.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Spouses of B-1 Foreign Experts who wish to work in Israel can benefit from the new EAD program, and should apply for an EAD immediately from abroad and not wait for a job offer.

Employers should ensure they comply with minimum salary requirements for spouses under the new EAD program.