Israel: New Work Visa Implemented for Technology and Mechanization Projects
The Israeli Ministry of Interior has implemented a new Work Visa category relating to unique technology and mechanization projects. Though the new category eases salary requirements, processing times are longer.
The Ministry of Interior published a new regulation last week, implementing a new Work Visa category for foreign national workers coming to Israel for unique technology and mechanization projects. As the category is aimed towards projects that can only be performed by a foreign workforce holding unique knowledge and expertise in the field, the new process will evaluate the need for foreign expertise during the adjudication of the application.
Eligibility Criteria and Application Process
Applications for this Work Visa category will be adjudicated in a multi-stage process involving a special committee and various other government Ministries. They will need to include a detailed project description, the relevant contracts between the Israeli and foreign company for the execution of work in Israel and confirmation of the expected employment of a local Israeli workforce. The applications will also need to emphasize the expertise, qualifications, skills and knowledge of the applicant as they relate to the project's technology and mechanization.
The traditional requirement for payment of the prevailing wage (which is double the average salary under the standard B-1 Work Visa category) will not be required under this category. However, the government processing time of six months for this category is significantly longer than the government processing time for the standard B-1 Work Visa category, typically about three months. The regulation also requires direct employment by the foreign employer, eliminating third-party employer or freelance arrangements. There are no specific details in relation to the qualifying size of the projects.
The regulation provides and emphasizes the need to protect the rights and proper employment conditions for the foreign national experts assigned to the project, e.g., a written employment contract, private health insurance, proper housing, and contributions to social benefits. Moreover, the employer must deposit a bank guarantee of at least NIS 15,000 per employee, assign a specialized Israeli Labor Compliance Officer, and pay the salary to a local bank account.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Eligible foreign nationals with upcoming projects in Israel involving unique technology and mechanization may benefit from a new Work Visa category. To allow for strategic planning and submissions under this category, applicants should initiate the process at least eight months prior to the start of the project.
Fragomen worked closely with Kan-Tor & Acco Law Firm (Israel) to prepare this alert.
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