Work Permits for Foreign Experts – High Tech

    Work Permits for Foreign Experts – High Tech

    In light of the current shortage of skilled high-tech workers in Israel and in light of the importance of high-tech to the Israeli economy, a number of beneficial arrangements have been established that facilitate the bureaucratic process of employing foreign experts in high-tech and issuing them work permits. The procedure for handling applications from high-tech companies for foreign experts (Procedure No. 5.3.0043) allows a high-tech company, which has been recognized by the Israel Innovation Authority as a high-tech corporation, to employ a foreign expert and to be issued a work permit.

    A few months ago, this procedure was only relevant to citizens of countries exempt from tourist visa requirements. Recently, the Work Permit Unit began allowing citizens of non waiver countries (such as China, India, and Turkey) to submit under this expedited process.

    The fundamental condition for the application of the procedure is that the employer be recognized as a high-tech corporation by the Israel Innovation Authority, in accordance with the provisions of the “Procedure for recognition of a corporation as a high-tech corporation.”

    A high-tech company will be recognized as such if it meets one of the following criteria:

    • If it received an R&D grant or tax approval from the Israel Innovation Authority in the three years preceding the application for a foreign expert visa (or it received recognition as a company “performing R&D for an international company” in the five years preceding the application).
    • The company is affiliated with one of the industries listed in the Business Register of the Central Bureau of Statistics.
    • R&D expenses of the applicant according to generally accepted accounting rules exceeded 7% of sales turnover in the calendar year preceding the work permit application’s submission or at least 15% of all the employees employed by the applicant are in R&D.

    This procedure allows the issuance of permits and work visas in three different tracks for companies recognized as high-tech companies:

    • Expedited track for a period of up to 90 days: This procedure allows employers to arrange for the immigration of foreign workers for short periods of up to 90 days through an expedited process that is somewhat procedurally simpler. It should be noted that one condition is the foreign company’s obligation to pay the foreign expert twice the average wage in Israel, under the conditions set out in the procedure. As part of this route, it is not necessary to go to the Israeli consulate abroad (non-waiver countries must approach the consulate), and the foreign expert can be brought to Israel within a few days.
    • Work permit for a period of more than 90 days: A recognized high-tech company may apply for the employment of a foreign expert for a period of more than 90 days in R&D, or of a foreign expert who has unique expertise that assists in business related to a product or service developed by the company. This is a particularly fast process which allows the issuance of a work permit within only a few business days. The work permit will be valid for up to one year, and it is possible to extend it by another year. The process includes procedures in the Israeli consulate abroad.
      Foreign experts who come for a period of more than 90 days may apply for a B-1 visa and residence permit for their spouses. The B-1 allows the spouse to work for any Israeli employer without the need to obtain a work permit, and without the need for a wage equal to twice the average wage in Israel. This is a special visa that does not exist in other visa tracks, and its purpose is to boost the Israeli high-tech industry.
    • Foreign academic track: A high-tech company may apply for the employment of a foreign national who has completed a full academic degree at an institution of higher education in Israel in one of the following professions: electrical engineering, electronics, computers (including software engineering), information systems, or computer science. In this track, a high-tech company is not obligated to pay the academic graduate twice Israel’s average salary.

    The steps in the procedure for obtaining a foreign expert work permit and visa:

    Step 1: Submitting an application for a work permit in the Population, Immigration and Border Crossing Authority’s Work Permits Unit in Jerusalem.

    Step 2: Submitting an application for a B / 1 work visa and entry visa to Israel at the Ministry of the Interior, and sending the authorization to the Israeli consulate abroad.

    Step 3: Issuing a work permit at the Israeli consulate of the foreign expert’s country of origin (usually, a B/1 work permit is for one month only).

    Step 4: Extending the work permit’s validity to the desired duration upon the foreign expert’s arrival in Israel’s airport, and applying for a multi-entry visa at the Ministry of Interior. 

    The steps above relate to the standard and orderly procedure- however, depending on different circumstances and evolving policies, the steps in the process may be shortened or lengthened, and at each stage a requirement for additional documents, reports and relevant information for the Authority may be received. In addition, most of the procedures involve the payment of government fees.

    Annually, it is possible to extend the employment period by an additional year up to a maximum cumulative total of 63 months.

    Please note:

    Working in Israel without a valid work visa is a legal violation which may result in severe penalties, including: substantial fines (more than 5,000 NIS per business day), the arrest and deportation of the foreign expert (which may result in the possible impairment of the foreign expert’s ability to be employed in other countries), and even criminal proceedings against company executives in Israel and abroad.

    Referring to a law firm that specializes in Israeli commercial immigration law (and specifically in the immigration of foreign experts) will allow one to determine if the Israeli company can be classified as a high-tech corporation and take advantage of this expedited procedure, and will significantly increase the chances of obtaining desired results.

    Are you interested in employing foreign experts in Israel? Contact us today, and we will be happy to assist you in obtaining the necessary permits and visas!



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