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ISRAEL – Relaxed Criteria for Work Permits for Foreign Experts; and Increased Immigration Audits at Client Sites

, 14/08/2017

The Ministry of Interior has recently relaxed the qualifying criteria for work permits for foreign experts engaged in professions requiring a higher academic education.

Also, the immigration authorities have recently increased audits at client sites.

Relaxed Criteria

Effective immediately, the work permit sub-category for academically qualified foreign experts is open to applicants with at least two years of post-high school education. Previously, this category required at least a Bachelor’s degree.

Employers of qualifying assignees are exempt from certain additional requirements:

A bank deposit equal to the cost of repatriating the applicant (36,000 NIS per applicant);
Proof of a local bank account for the applicant;
A letter from an Israeli lawyer confirming that the contract of employment is compatible with Israeli law;
Additional company or personal affidavits.

Despite the modification, the Working Permit Unit within the Israeli Ministry of Interior retains full discretion to classify such assignees under the sub-category of non-academically-qualified staff (professional qualifications).

Increased Audits

The Enforcement Unit of the Immigration Authority has recently increased audits at client sites.

Foreign nationals who are found at client sites without a working visa and are suspected of engaging in work activity will be detained and deported from Israel.

Further penalties may be levied against the assignee as well as the Israeli employer, including extremely high fines, criminal charges and possible criminal indictment against the directors of the employing company.

Action Items

Employers of foreign experts assigned to Israel should consult an immigration specialist regarding the correct category of application, and the supporting documents required.
All employers of foreign nationals in Israel are advised to maintain immigration compliance and to consult an immigration specialist prior to any visit of a foreign national to a client site.