This guide was written prior to the October 2023 escalation of hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militant groups. The ongoing conflict has markedly affected the safety and advisability of travel to the region. Please consult with relevant authorities and exercise extreme caution when considering travel to Israel and the surrounding areas.
A foreign national who has been assigned to work in Israel must obtain a work permit and an appropriate entry visa before arriving in Israel. The B/1 visa category is the main work permit in Israel.
Applying for a B/1 work permit for Israel
Applicants generally must have a concrete job offer in Israel and provide evidence such as their employment contract, financial support and other required documentation. There are four steps to getting a B/1 visa:
- Submitting an initial work permit application to the Ministry of Interior (MOI)
- Filing of a subsequent visa application with the MOI
- Issuing of a short-term B/1 visa, before entry into Israel
- Extension of the B/1 visa at the MOI after arrival in Israel, and being granted a multiple-entry visa for the entire B/1 approval period
In particular cases, the assignee may also be regarded as an "Approved Specialist", enjoying substantial tax benefits.
Work permit application
An Israeli employer (or a well-known global/foreign company) must be the official sponsor of a work permit application. While there is no provision for a traditional self-employment working permit in Israel, alternatives include Israel's Innovation Visa (also known as the Start-Up Visa) and the Expert Visa for foreign specialists.
A work permit application must contain a detailed description of the job offered and provide all the information relating to the prospective employee, including educational background, professional experience and proposed salary in Israel. Processing times for work permit applications are from four to eight weeks.
If the application is approved, the relevant MOI branch will submit a B/1 recommendation letter to the MOI head office.
Upon receiving the recommendation letter, expats must file a subsequent B/1 visa application at the Israeli consulate in their own country.
Applicants for a B/1 visa may be required to undergo health and security checks as part of the visa application process. It's important for applicants to ensure that they have no medical or security issues that might lead to visa denial.
After a processing period of two to four weeks, expats will be issued with a single-entry B/1 visa that is valid for 30 days.
Following entry into Israel, expats must apply for an extended B/1 visa, which is valid for up to one year and allows for multiple entries into Israel.
Any departure from Israel before the extended visa is provided will invalidate the applicant's 30-day B/1 visa. Expats will then need to repeat the second step in the B/1 application process, which involves applying through the Israeli consulate in their home country.
B/1 visas can be renewed after their initial period. The renewal process typically requires a review of the ongoing employment need, and some documentation might need to be re-submitted or updated for the renewal.
Applying for a B/1 STEP work permit for Israel
B/1 STEP (Short Term Expedited Process) visas are a special type of B/1 visa offered to foreign workers seeking to enter Israel for up to 90 days to perform specialist work. B/1 STEP work permit applications are not subject to the normal prevailing wage obligations and also enjoy expedited processing. The wage obligations for the B/1 STEP visa can vary depending on individual circumstances and specific requirements set by the Ministry of Interior.
The B/1 STEP visa, designed for short-term work, cannot be extended beyond its 90-day duration. Workers who wish to stay longer will need to apply for a traditional B/1 work permit.
The specific qualifications for 'unique knowledge and expertise' for the B/1 STEP visa may differ depending on individual circumstances and the requirements of the Ministry of Interior. Workers applying for the B/1 STEP visa must follow the same steps as outlined for the B/1 work permit above.
Both foreign and Israeli companies can sponsor a foreign national under the STEP process. To take advantage of the B/1 STEP permit, foreign workers must possess unique knowledge and expertise that are relevant to their proposed work activities.
►For info on money matters, read Banking, Money and Taxes in Israel
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