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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding B-1 Work Visa

1. What are the categories of temporary work visas available for foreign nationals in Israel?

Israeli law provides for one general type of work permit for foreign nationals: the B-1 visa.

2. Which government ministries are involved in the temporary work permit process?

The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (MOITAL) in the first instance; and the Ministry of Interior (MOI) in the second instance.

3. What are the basic procedures used to obtain a temporary work visa?

The B-1 visa procedure is comprised of the following procedural steps:

1. Submission of a temporary work visa petition to the local (municipal) office of the MOITAL. This office carries out initial processing, and thereafter sends the application directly to the national office in Jerusalem for further consideration. Following consideration of the application, the national office will either approve or deny the visa petition. "Approval" in this case takes the form of a written recommendation to the MOI to issue a work visa.

2. Submission of a subsequent visa application to the MOI (via its Office of the Population Registrar). In adjudicating visa applications, the Office of the Population Registrar acts in similar fashion to an American Consulate in the context of adjudicating a work visa application based on a Form I-797 Approval Notice. Like the U.S. Consul, the Population Registrar has full discretion to refuse to issue a work visa application. The most common grounds for refusal include: (1) possession by the visa applicant of a criminal record in Israel and/or abroad; (2) previous illegal residence or unauthorized employment by the visa applicant in Israel; or (3) the making of a material misrepresentation by the visa applicant.

3. Transmission of visa issuing instructions by the Population Registrar to the Israeli consular post with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence. The Israeli consul then issues a single-entry B-1 visa valid for up to 30 days.

4. Upon admission to Israel, the foreign worker should apply to the MOI for an extended validity, multiple-entry B-1 visa stamp.

4. What conditions or restrictions apply to a worker on temporary work permit?

The foreign employee may work only for the sponsoring employer, pursuant to the terms and conditions of the approved petition. The terms and conditions of employment such as salary, accommodation, and health insurance must comply with relevant labor laws and regulations. Work visas can be extended up to 5 years and 3 months from date of first issuance. It is irrelevant whether or not the individual worked in Israel during the last 5 years.

5. What is the validity of a temporary work visa?

Work visas (B-1) are normally valid for up to one year. Extensions of up to one year each may be requested, but total stay in B-1 status ordinarily may not exceed five years and three months.

6. How long does it typically take for a temporary work visa to be issued?

Total processing times for B-1 work petitions typically range from 12 to 14 weeks.

7. What is the degree of difficulty for obtaining approval of a work visa application?

Current governmental policy limits the number of work permits to be issued for foreign employees. As a result, applications should be submitted professionally and promptly in accordance with current regulations and criteria, as applicable, in an effort to avoid delay and refusal.

8. Is special consideration for visas given to persons of certain nationalities?

Generally, no. That being said, nationals of countries listed by the Israeli government as "Hostile States" are subject to special security clearance procedures which extend the length of the process.

9. Of which other potential problems should foreign temporary workers be aware?

The employment of a foreign professional without a valid work visa can subject the employer to significant monetary sanctions. Additionally, the managers of repeat corporate offenders are subject to criminal liability. An individual found working without a valid work permit is subject to deportation.

10. May members of a temporary worker's household be authorized to work? (e.g. spouse, children, parents)

Dependents of a B-1 visa holder are not allowed to work in Israel, unless a separate B-1 process is issued for that individual.

11. I am working for a U.S. company and I am expected to be based In Israel soon. I am a finance manager for the Cap Group which is a very large mutual fund based in the U.S. My expected work in Israel has no connection to the Israeli market. I am expected to sit in my office on a computer and buy and sell stock in the U.S. I am not expected to work with any Israelis and I am not expected to do anything with Israeli companies. Will I need a Work visa?

The mere fact that you are expected to work in Israel – will require you to obtain a work visa prior to your entry to Israel. The fact that you will remain under U.S. payroll and that your managerial structure will remain in the U.S., does not preclude you from the need to obtain a work visa in Israel.

12. I am in the process of processing the visa at the consulate. My passport will expire one year from today. Do I need to extend my passport?

To allow a full year visa, your passport must be valid for at least 1 year and 9 months from the day of initiation of the process. Therefore, if the passport is valid for less than 1 year and 9 months, it is mandatory to extend or to issue a new passport. It is recommended to complete this process in your country of residence.

13. I've been issued a B-1 work visa at the consulate. The visa is valid for 2 months. What does that mean?

This means that you can travel to Israel within a 2 month period form the day the visa was issued at the Israeli consulate. Upon entry into Israel, you will obtain a new visa. The duration of the new visa will be decided by the border control officer. During this period, KTA will submit a relevant application to the MOI to extend the visa for the full duration of the work permit.

14. Our multinational company would like to relocate a foreign expat from Turkey to Israel. The employee's current salary in the U.S. is approximately 10,000 NIS per month. Can we continue pay the employee the same salary in Israel?

No, according to Israeli law and regulations, there is a prevailing wage requirement of double the Israeli average salary (approximately 14,000 NIS per month), in addition to other benefits the employee is entitled to by law.

15. One of the expats (Robert) in our project in Israel should be replaced soon by another expat. Robert's B-1 visa will expire 6 months from today. What is the required process for providing the new expat with Robert's remaining 6 month B-1 visa?

Because the work permit and the working visa are issued for a specific foreign employee, a new application will have to be submitted to MOITAL, followed by consular processing.

16. Can a foreign company sponsor an application for a work permit in Israel without an Israeli sponsor?

MOITAL's regulations require that an Israeli-based company must sponsor applications for work permits in Israel. In extraordinary cases (for example in multinational projects), however, where there is no Israeli company that is involved (and capable of sponsoring the application), an application for a work permit may be submitted by a foreign company. Such applications are normally more complicated than normal, and requires an extra burden of proof regarding the foreign company.

17. Our company would like to employ a foreign national in Israel. The individual is a Jewish person that is interested in making "Aliyah". Can he start working in Israel immediately upon arrival to Israel?

If the candidate is Jewish or otherwise eligible under the law of return, he can apply to become an Israeli citizen as an "Oleh Hadash"- new immigrant. Upon successful application, the candidate will be able to reside and work in Israel permanently. We recommend that the application will be submitted prior to entry to Israel, through the Jewish Agency - at the Israeli consulate. This will allow, if accepted, immediate work approval of the candidate upon entering into Israel. Otherwise, the process can be delayed while in Israel, with the result of employment restriction until the "New Immigrant" status will be approved.

18. Our company would like to employ a U.S. national in Israel. The candidate is a Jewish person that is NOT interested in making "Aliyah". Can he start to work in Israel immediately upon arrival to Israel?

The company can apply for the Jewish candidate to work in Israel as a foreign expat, for the maximum period of 5 years and 3 month. The process for obtaining an Israeli B-1 work visa takes approximately 3 months. Before the candidate has obtained a B-1 visa in his passport, he cannot work in Israel. During the first stage of the process, the candidate may remain in Israel as a tourist on his B-2 visa (no work allowed), however, during the second stage of the process he will have to leave Israel and obtain the B-1 visa stamp at the Israeli consulate at his home country. Each step takes up to 45 days.

19. My working visa has recently been extended for an additional year, however, I've found out that I have "lost" 2 months due to the fact that the extension begins 2 months prior to the previous visa expiry date. Can this be fixed?

The process for extension generally takes up to 3 months. In some cases, the MOITAL approves the application faster. Since the approval notice is issued for one year from the date of the application approval, 1-2 months may be "lost" as a result. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend initiating the extension process at least 3 months in advance, and not wait to the last minute. The risk of delay in the process beyond the original visa validity is severe, due to the fact that the expat and his dependents will have to depart from Israel until the receipt of the approval for extension, followed by consular processing outside of Israel.

20. I have been working in Israel for several months and traveled back to Germany, my home country. My work visa in Israel will expire within 3 months and an extension will be required (as I am planning to return to work in Israel soon). Is there a requirement for me to be in Israel during the extension process? And, if so, for how long?

The new visa will have to be stamped in the passport at the MOI in Israel prior to the expiry date of the current visa. Therefore, you must be in Israel for at least 2 weeks prior to the expiry of the current visa to allow us to process the visa in the passport. In case you will not be able to come to Israel as mentioned above, the visa process will have to be done at the Israeli consulate abroad.

21. In which stage within the work permit process must medical insurance be obtained?

Following the approval of the application for a work permit and while the application for a B-1 work visa is submitted at the local MOI, a medical obligation assurance must be signed by the Israeli company. The obligation is to obtain a medical insurance for the expat.

According to Israeli law, medical insurance for a foreign employee must be valid from the foreign employee's date of entry into Israel. The working visa is void unless such insurance has been obtained.

22. My multiple entry visa will expire 1 month prior to my work visa. What are the consequences?

Any departure from Israel after the expiration of your multiple entry visa will cancel your working visa. In case you will not depart from Israel within this period, you can continue to work in Israel until your working visa is expired.

23. My visa will expire in 1.5 months. I have just been informed that approval for extension of my work permit has been received. When can the extension of my visa be completed?

The MOI does not normally begin the process of extending the visa more than 1.5 months prior to the expiration of the current visa. Generally, this is done only within the last month of the visa before its expiration date. In case the foreign national is required to depart form Israel and expected to return only after the expiration date of the current visa, a formal letter from an authorized manager of the company regarding the proposed travel abroad will be required to apply before the one month period mentioned above.

24. I've obtained a work visa at the Israeli consulate valid for 30 days. I'm expected to arrive in Israel only 1 day prior to the date the visa will be expired. Is it sufficient for extension purposes?

Normally yes, following your arrival to Israel you will receive a visa valid for 1 month from your date of arrival. During this month our office will submit a relevant application for extension for a full year. We do, however, recommend entering Israel a few days prior to the expiry of the visa provided by the consulate.

25. A work permit application in Israel will be submitted for several employees of our company, are they allowed to stay in Israel during the process?

The applicants can travel to Israel for business trips (working is not permitted) from the date of initiation of the work permit process until starting consular processing, following approval by MOITAL (approximately 45 days).

Following the approval of the application, the applicants must depart from Israel for at least 7 days prior to the submission of an application for a work visa at the MOI. The applicants will have to remain abroad until the work visa is issued in their passport at the Israeli consulate abroad (generally 14-21 days staying outside of Israel).

It is recommended to minimize business trips while the process is pending, to avoid suspicion of dual intention by border control.

In case the applicant's nationality is not included in the nationality waiver visa list, a relevant application for the issuance of a B-2 visitor visa at the Israeli consulate abroad must be submitted in advance.

26. For how long are the Israel work permit and entry visa valid once they are issued?

As soon as the visa is issued in the employee passport, it will be valid for 30 days only, meaning that the employee will have to travel to Israel within 30 days of the day in which the visa was actually issued in his/her passport. Otherwise, the visa will be voided, and reprocessing at the consulate will be required.

27. How long after a cable is sent to the consulate by the MOI, is the employee's work visa processed?

Generally, the visa will be valid for processing at the consulate 1-3 months following receipt of the cable at the consulate, depending on the consulate's decision. If the consulate refuses to provide the visa due to the long period it took the employee to get to the consulate, there will be a need to reprocess the visa at the MOI in Israel. This process generally takes about 3-4 weeks.

28. Is it possible to extend a B-1 work visa beyond the limit of 5 years and 3 months?

In exceptional cases, a special application to extend the visa beyond 5 years and 3 months can be submitted. The application will be reviewed by the MOI and MOITAL. Following the approval of this special application, the work visa extension will be issued by the MOI in the employee’s passport. For more information, please click here.

29. My work visa expired.When do I have to leave?

Foreign expat can remain in Israel 30 days after the expiration of his work visa, for final arrangements prior to final departure. Work will not be allowed during this period. Under the Ministry of Interior regulation, there is no need to obtain a visitor visa for these 30 days, however, upon request, such visa will be provided.

30. Is there a minimum time period of employment abroad required prior to applying for a B-1 work visa?

There is no such requirement for a B-1 work visa to Israel

31. Do I need a Roundtrip ticket to get in to Israel?

 There is no requirement under Israeli law to have 2 way ticket upon entry. However, absence of return ticket may alert the border control for possible long stay, which may cause a denial of entry.

 However, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is an international industry trade group of airlines headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The executive offices are at the Geneva Airport in Switzerland. IATA maintains the Timatic database containing cross border passenger documentation requirements. It is used by airlines to determine whether a passenger can be carried, as well as by airlines and travel agents to provide this information to travelers at the time of booking.

This database is the successor to the Official Airlines Guide (OAG) which was a 3 volume list of rules and regulations that IATA member airlines must follow. In that OAG, and now in the database, there is an Appendix that lists all visa regulations for entry into most countries and all IATA member airlines to follow for international travellers.

We assume that in the Israeli section of that appendix, it lists the countries whose nationals are allowed that 90 day visa exempt entry into Israel. In a footnote it also states to the airlines that the visa exempt entry can only be given if "the visa free passenger has an out-of-country (onward travel) ticket from Israel". It does NOT say a return ticket is required...it only wants an out-of-country ticket.

From that requirement, the international airlines as members of IATA derive their requirement that you either must have:

1. A valid Israeli visa OR
2. An out-of-country ticket if you qualify for a visa exempt entry.

We recommend that you will check this with the airline prior to purchasing the ticket.

 

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