The Entry of foreign experts to Israel in the time of COVID-19

    The surprising arrival of COVID-19 virus caused unprecedented damage to the international economy and did not seem to spare any country regardless of size, strength or economic power. Countries that a few months earlier had enjoyed prosperity, a growing economy and low unemployment found themselves closed and isolated without economic activity, and suffering negative growth.

    One of the major growth engines in the global era is business collaboration between countries and private entities, whether through knowledge transfer and trade, or through the implementation of joint projects. The movement of foreign experts from one country to another has gained significant momentum over the last decade as companies send skilled workers to other counties in order to carry out projects and transmit and make use of the vast knowledge they possess that does not exist in the destination countries.

    For example, foreign experts from all over the world carry out both government and private projects and mega-projects in Israel, including the construction of the light rail in Tel Aviv, the construction of new light rail lines in Jerusalem, construction of private seaports in Haifa and Ashdod, construction of power plants, planning and construction of factories, drilling for exploration and production of natural gas and oil, construction of automatic logistics warehouses, installation of machines and production lines, and cooperation with Israeli high-tech companies.

    Because of COVID-19, such collaborations were suspended for fear of arrivals from abroad infecting local populations with the virus. In addition, most international flights were canceled and the arrival of foreign experts to destination countries was often not possible at all.

    Recently, the Israeli government began to innovate and allow the entry of foreign experts from abroad into Israel, in order to boost the economy and prevent greater damage. The entry of foreign experts is conditional on proof of necessity and urgency. In addition, the entry of foreign experts is conditional on meeting the requirements of the Ministry of Health, including proof of a place of isolation and 14 days of isolation upon entry to Israel.

    The entry of foreign experts into Israel at this time is conditional, as in the past, on the issuance of a preliminary work permit in the name of the requesting company that will allow their employment in Israel according to law. A work permit application is required to be submitted as before; however, the actual issuance of the permit involves meeting additional and complex requirements including obtaining a special permit from the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Health.

    Upon issuance of a work permit in Israel and obtaining a special permit for the entry of the foreign expert into Israel, it is necessary to apply to the Population and Immigration Authority (Ministry of the Interior) for the purpose of being issued a work visa with which the foreign expert can arrive and stay in Israel. Prior to the departure of the foreign expert for Israel, he must present the airline with a letter from the Israeli Border Control Commissioner authorizing his entry into the country.

    The process of applying for foreign expert work permits and work visas to Israel is a complex process even during normal times. The threshold requirements for being issued work permits and work visas in Israel are among the strictest in the world! The COVID-19 virus, whose end is not in sight, has made the procedure of mobilizing foreign experts doubly difficult but not impossible!

    During this difficult period, analyzing the needs of the requesting company and submitting a detailed application for the issuance of a work permit that contains the necessary data will enable the mobilization of foreign experts and the execution of the required work.

    Consultation with experts in the field of commercial immigration law will exponentially increase the chances of work permit applications and work visa applications being improved, especially in these complex and challenging times.


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