Business Travellers in Israel

    Business Travellers in Israel 

    In recent years, Israel has become a major destination for a long list of companies, investors and others who come to conferences, tours and visits that frequently are held in the country. At the same time, against the background of the increasing cooperation between international companies and local companies, there is a growing trend of moving foreign workers to Israel and employing through a foreign or local company.

    However, there is a significant difference between a business visit to Israel and staying in Israel to carry out work. While a business visitor is required to have a type B / 2 tourist visa (which allows him to stay in Israel for a period of up to 3 months and precludes the possibility of working there), a foreign expert who arrives for work purposes is required to obtain a work permit and a type B/1 work visa. In such a case, the Israeli or foreign company must be careful to properly apply for and obtain them, as otherwise the foreign worker’s presence in Israel will violate the law.

    Sometimes, a situation may arise in which an employee who is on a business trip to Israel, inadvertently breaks the law by performing work there. In such a case, there is currently a loophole in the law as there is no clear definition of what is considered work in Israel.

    The Population and Immigration Authority, together with the Service Administration for Employers and Foreign Workers – Permits Division – Experts and the Ministry of Economy, are the bodies responsible for issuing work permits in Israel, and answer questions when defining work in Israel as any active and productive activity within the country.

    It is important to understand that the very performance of work within the State of Israel is what defines the need to obtain a work permit and a corresponding visa. The issue of the specific location where in practice the said actual work is performed (factory, hotel, etc.) or the identity of the employer (i.e. whether the company is Israeli or foreign) has no significance in terms of the definition of “work” according to the Ministry of Economy.

    This definition helps to refine the difference between a business visit and work in Israel. While working in Israel is an active, productive activity, a business visit is intended for conducting business meetings, networking, employee education, etc. in which no productive work is performed. The length of the visit also serves as a differentiating factor, since a stay of a few days (or a few weeks at most) usually indicates that it is a business trip- and this is, as stated, assuming that no active productive activity has taken place.

    Another defining phrase that helps to differentiate between the various categories is “Hands On”, and in this context it is a literal translation: when a person performs an operation that requires the use of light or heavy tools for only one day, he is considered to be working in Israel, and must have the appropriate permit. In the same way, a consultant who arrives in Israel to advise a company will be defined as a worker and will also be required to perform the same procedures.

    In light of all this, in cases where there is doubt or uncertainty, and the employing company does not know whether the employee’s coming visit is considered work or not, it is recommended to contact a law firm specializing in immigration law and in the relocation of foreign experts. Working in Israel without the appropriate permit – even when done mistakenly or due to ignorance of the law –  can lead to severe economic and criminal sanctions.


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