Israel Visas and Work Permits 

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Israel Visas and Work Permits  

Israel’s hi-tech, competitive, and fast-moving economy has carved itself a reputation for being the place for new companies to excel. The ‘Start-up Nation’, as it is known, is an increasingly attractive proposition for international companies, with an excellent strategic location on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean and southwest corner of Asia with proximity to African markets.

Expanding into a new country or hiring a workforce abroad can lead your business to great profits, but unfamiliar laws and regulations can counteract your company’s goals and plans.

At Bradford Jacobs, we want to eliminate this complicated part. By using our PEO-service we can arrange all needed visas and permits including the entire application process without your physical presence. (However, we can also recruit the staff in country without the need for visas. The result? Your company is up and running within days rather than months.)

Our team is trained to research the latest information on Israeli visas and work permits and therefore, we created a guide to introduce you to the rules and requirements. This guide highlights the first steps, as well as the complexities of obtaining the necessary documentation.

What types of Visas and Work Permits for Israel are there?

Around 100 countries are visa exempt for visiting Israel for leisure or tourism. Their nationals just need to present their passports, with six months validity after duration of stay, and they will be allowed entry; at which time they may or may not have a visa-free notice stamped in their passports. This allows for short stay trips of three months.

All other activities require one type of visa or another. Before applying for a tourist visa, check to see if this is necessary

Around 140 countries’ nationals will require a visa to enter. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) sanctions visas under the Law of Entry which permits foreigners to access Israel for tourism, business, study, education, work, and residency. These visas should be applied for through a local embassy or consulate in the home country or country of residence.

In 2022, Israel is to introduce an e-Visa. This will simplify the process and allow those foreigners who wish to visit for tourism, business purposes or transit, to apply online. At the moment a Visitor Visa (B2) is required for short stays (90 days).

Those with a proven Jewish birth-right can apply for immigration under the Law of Return (Aliyah). 

Main Categories of Visas

Israel has four long-term A-Visas and two B-Visas for limited stays. There are also immigration visas. Visas allow people to enter Israel legally for various reasons:

  • A/1 - Temporary Resident: issued to those entitled to Aliyah
  • A/2 - Student Visa
  • A/3 - Clergyman
  • A/4 - Families of visa holders of A/2 and A/3 visas
  • B/1 - Work Visa: for professionals/foreign nationals for paid work. And is a temporary residence permit. An employment/work permit is also required for most categories of the B/1 visa.
  • B/2 - Tourist/Visitor’s Visa: authorized for up to three months for tourists, visitors, business purposes or students studying Hebrew at a school or institute. Paid work is not allowed.
  • Immigration Visa: From the Jewish Agency which controls immigration (Aliyah) to Israel.

    For documentation, see here.

Work Visa

The B/1 visa gives potential employees the right of entry to Israel for work purposes and comes under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior (MOI).

However, a few steps must be followed.

Firstly, applicants must have a firm job offer. The new employer must then apply for the employment /work permit, acting as the sponsor for his employee, to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (MOITAL) before the employee applies for the B/1 Visa. There is also provision for international companies without a branch or subsidiary to employ foreign workers.

The employer and the employee are both involved in the application process. Provisionally, the permit is recommended by the MOITAL and thereafter granted solely by the MOI.

There are sub-categories of the B1 Work Visa, depending on qualifications and duration of employment:

  • Specialists working in academic areas: Executive and professional levels, in research and supervisors.
  • Specialists not requiring educational qualifications, such as mechanical, electric, equipment installers, welders, chefs etc.
  • Short-term visas for qualified experts: Short Term Employment Process (STEP), valid for up to three months.
  • Hi-Tech (HIT) visa: Operating in such fields as cybernetics (90-day or 365-day visas).
  • 90-day SEA visa (Short Employment Authorization): For foreign experts needed for urgent short term specialist work. This authorization is for ‘visa-exempt experts’ only. They can go to Israel using the work permit as an entry visa. Once in Israel, they can apply for the appropriate visa from an office of the MOI

Once a B1 visa has been issued, it must be carried at all times, including to work, as working in Israel without a visa is a criminal offence.

How to obtain an Israeli Work Visa

Applying for the B1 Work Visa depends on circumstances of the applicant, whether long-term or short-term employment as well as qualifications and education. Each category requires different documentation, each has its own route and processing times. There are various ‘expert’ sub-categories of the B1 Work Visa, and which one is applied for will depend on the applicant’s profession or occupation. The main qualification is that the skill set is unavailable in Israel. However, first an employment/work permit needs to be applied for. 

The Main Types of Foreign Experts Eligible for Work Permits include:

  • Experts who are highly educated or qualified or have a particular skill set. These nationals must have a job offer at twice the Israeli national average salary
  • Experts in required occupational fields. Employees do not require a degree or similar academic qualifications
  • Senior employees, executives, or responsible managers of an international company
  • Experts who are exempt from entry visa
  • Specialists who are needed in the short term

To obtain the appropriate work permit and B1 Visa:

  • Applicants will need a firm offer of employment
  • The employer acts as sponsor and applies for the work permit on behalf of his worker before the employee can enter Israel
  • Cooperation is needed between employee and employer with regards to the required documentation to be submitted
  • Israeli employers can use the online service of the Population and Immigration Authority permits division to apply for the work permit
  • Written permission, issued by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior (MOI), is then sent to a designated Embassy or consulate in the employees home country or official country of residence
  • The B/1 Work Visa can be applied for at the same time through the same consulate/embassy to where the work permit approval has been cabled. The B/1 is issued by the MOI.

The B/1 Visa and the work permit together allows the employee to enter Israel to work. It can take up to 14 weeks to process both applications.

For employers, you can find more information on the Working Permit by the MOI here

There is also provision for international companies without a branch or subsidiary in Israel to employ foreign workers.

A High-Tech Work Visa (HIT) can be fast tracked to around 10 days. This visa allows travel to Israel where application should then be made to the MOI for a multi-entry extended B1 stamp. This visa will be attached to the employer who submitted the work permit application.

How to apply for Work Visa/Work Permit in Israel

Employees wanting to work and live in Israel, must first have a firm offer of employment and the employer must apply for the appropriate work permit from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor issued under the umbrella of the Ministry of Interior.

The Population and Immigration Authority offers an online service to Israeli companies\employers to apply for permits to hire foreign nationals. All documents should be original and certified by a professional person such as an accountant or solicitor. Also, they should be in English or Hebrew. The application process includes:

  • All relevant qualifications regarding occupation or profession or experience, educational certificates e.g., degrees or diplomas of new employees
  • A document setting out the reasons for employing a foreign expert and any corresponding paperwork that supports the application
  • Details of the employee including duties, location of employment, address and contract details including salary
  • A report stating the financial health of the company and evidence it operates with no warning notices
  • Completed Form 102 regarding Israeli nationals employed in previous 12 weeks
  • Comply with conditions and procedures for employing foreign nationals
  • The employer can request a B-1 Work Visa Work Permit be sent to a local embassy/consulate in employee’s home country or official country of residence for the employee to complete the process
  • Fees for Work Permit paid, and receipt included

B/1 Visa Application Documents

The application form for the visa can be downloaded and filled in by hand in Hebrew or English. The other documents include:

  • Valid passport with two photographs
  • Contract of employment signed by employer
  • Approval from the Ministry of Interior (work permit)
  • Evidence of good conduct from the police
  • Medical examination certificate
  • Proof of airline ticket reservation for intent to travel
  • Receipt as proof of paid fees

For more information, check out the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Applicants will also need to pass the visa interview at an Israeli consulate or embassy and have fingerprints (biometrics) taken.

On receiving the B1, foreigners can travel to Israel. During the validity of the visa, applicants must apply for an extension and multi-entry visa stamp from the Work Permit Unit (WPU) at the Ministry of Interior, generally for 12 months or length of work permit, but must not exceed 63 months. Application for permanent stay can be applied for at a later date, under certain circumstances.

How much is an Israeli Work Visa?

(full list can be seen here): 

Employees Costs:

  • All types of B/1 Work Visa : ILS 156 (€44, US$54 for entry into Israel)
    (There may also be a processing fee)
  • Permission to work : ILS 630 (€177, US$217)

Employer Fees for Work Permit

  • B/1 Work Permit – valid for one year : ILS 9,650 (€2,674, US$3,058)
  • 365-day HIT (Hi-Tech) : ILS 9,650 (€2,674, US$3,058)
  • 90 day HIT : ILS 4,500 (€1,263, US$1,426)
  • STEP Visa (Short Term Employment Process) : ILS 4,500 (€1,263, US$1,426)
  • B/1 Visa SEA 90-day (Short Employment Authorization) : ILS 6,500 (€1,824, US$2,060)
  • Service fee for handling permit online : ILS 1,200 (€380, US$380)

Working Visa / Permit for Israel

To visit Israel for tourism and leisure, travelers will require a Visitors’ Visa (B/2). However, there are exemptions for over 100 countries’ nationals who can travel there visa-free and stay for up to 90 days.

Those wishing to travel for other purposes must apply for the correct visa or work permit. For business travelers e.g., to attend conferences, trade shows or meetings, to purchase products to sell outside of Israel or to visit companies or facilities, for short-term trips up to 90 days, most countries’ nationals will require a B/2 Visitors’ Visa. A limited number of countries are exempt.

Check this online tool to see which nationalities require either a visa for tourism or for business purposes. 

Generally, those wishing to live and work in Israel will require a B/1 Visa to allow employees to enter Israel to work and a Work Permit which is the permission to work.

Applicants must have: a firm job offer, and an employer sponsorship to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (MOITAL) before applying for the B/1 Visa. Provisionally the permit is recommended by the MOITAL and thereafter granted solely by the MOI.

The Population and Immigration Authority offers an online service to Israeli companies\employers to apply for permits to hire foreign nationals. All documents should be original and certified by a professional person such as an accountant or solicitor. Also, they should be in English or Hebrew.

Note: There is also provision for international companies, without a branch or subsidiary in Israel, to employ foreign workers. Some work permits will have provisions and procedures which the employer has to follow.

There are a number of categories of B/1 Visas depending on:

  1. The position being offered to a qualified Israeli worker first
  2. An occupation or profession where there is a skill shortage
  3. Experts required in particular field – academics (high educational qualifications) or non-academics (qualified to do the job)
  4. Senior executives, supervisors, responsible managers of international companies
  5. Short-term experts required
  6. Urgently needed fast-tracked experts

These categories are:

  • Specialists working in academic areas. Executive and professional levels, in research and supervisors
  • Specialists not requiring educational qualifications. Mechanical, electric, equipment installers, welders, chefs etc.
  • Short Term Employment Process (STEP) Visa. Short-term visas for qualified experts. For up to three months
  • Hi-Tech (HIT) Visa. Operating in such fields as cybernetics (90-day or 365-day visas)
  • 90-day SEA visa (Short Employment Authorization). For foreign experts needed for urgent short term specialist work. This authorization is for ‘visa-exempt experts’ only. They can go to Israel using the work permit as an entry visa. Once in Israel, they can apply for the appropriate visa from an office of the MOI

When the employer has processed the work permit application in Israel with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, an approval will be issued by the Ministry of Interior, and this will be forwarded to the employee at an Embassy in their home country where they can then complete the B1 Visa and have the work permit and visa stamped in the passport. There will need to be an interview and fingerprints (biometrics) will be taken.

Business Visa for Israel

There are some countries whose citizens do not require a visa to travel to Israel for business purposes. When arriving, those exempt, will pass through border control, passports are checked, and a visa-free stamp may be inserted. No work can be undertaken while visiting Israel. A work permit and B/1 visa is required for employment. It is worth checking.

Foreigners who require a visa to travel for business must apply for the B2 Visitors Visa (which is also for tourists) and allows stays of up to three months for business conferences, trade shows and meetings, buying goods for selling outside of Israel and visiting clients and companies - but not for paid employment. These citizens have to apply at an Israeli Embassy / consulate or mission in applicant’s home country. It can be renewed at an office of the Ministry of Interior.

B2 Visa Documents:

  • Passport with at least six months validity after duration of trip, plus a photocopy
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Visa form completed and signed
  • Proof of reservation of airline ticket to and from Israel
  • Proof of means of financial support while in Israel e.g., bank statements
  • Fee payment: ILS 85 (€22, US$27). There may be fees for processing the visa if applicant uses a visa service
  • Receipt for proof of health insurance purchased
  • Proof from employer in home country for reason to visit and itinerary plus intention to return to employment

The fee is not refundable if the visa is rejected. There may be additional documents required by the Israeli consulate.

Israeli Visa for EU citizens

For tourist and business purposes, many countries’ citizens need not apply for a visa but receive one upon arrival for 90 days, which includes all European Union countries.

Work is not allowed and a B1 visa is needed for short term employment; for longer periods a work permit is also required. Cost €44, plus €177 for work permit stamp. Generally, a contract is offered by an Israeli company to start the process. Short term visas are also available for Hi-Tech specialists and foreign experts.

However, any EU citizen who also has Jewish heritage or has converted, under the Law of Return (5710-1950) has the right of immigration to Israel.

You can check out the government's website or more information about the process and paperwork.

Israeli Visa for US citizens

To travel to Israel for tourist and business purposes or to visit friends and family, American citizens need not apply for a visa for the first 90 days and will receive one upon arrival.

However, a B1 visa is required for short term employment, and, for longer periods, a work permit as well. Cost of the work visa is US$54 and US$217 for work permit stamp. There are a few sub-categories of the B1 such as the Hi-Tech visa.

Those US citizens with Jewish heritage or have converted to Judaism are eligible to emigrate to Israel under the Law of Return (5710-1950).

For more information on the B/1 work visa, click through here.

Extra information provided by the US State Department regarding travel to Israel can be seen here.

Israeli Visa for UK citizens

For travel to Israel for tourism, family visits or business matters for a period of up to 90 days, UK citizens can receive a visa upon arrival in Israel.

For work purposes, UK nationals require an offer of employment or contract to start the work visa process (B/1) and for longer periods of employment, a work permit needs to be applied for by the potential employer. Cost of B/1 visa is £40, a work permit approval is £163. Check out sub-categories of B1 visa here!

Also, the paperwork and requirements can be found here

UK citizens that have Jewish heritage or have converted to Judaism are eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return (5710-1950)

Israeli Visa for Canadian citizens

A tourist, business, or visitor’s visa (B2) is not required for Canadian citizens for up to 90 days. An entry visa is issued upon arrival.

However, if looking for employment, a B1 work visa is required for short term employment, and for longer periods a work permit should be applied for by a prospective employer before the B1 is issued. There are also special visa sub-categories for Hi-Tech specialists and foreign experts.

Those Canadian citizens that have Jewish heritage or have converted to Judaism are eligible to immigrate to Israel and come under the Law of Return (5710-1950).

Israeli Visa for Chinese citizens

In 2006, Israel and China signed a 10-year multi-entry agreement with regard to the Visitor visa (B2). This allows Chinese citizens to travel to Israel for tourism, business trips or family visits. Each trip is for up to 90 days, but with multiple entries this allows for a maximum of six months a year. A number of documents are required when applying.

The work visa for Israel is the B1 and is required for short term employment, and for longer periods a work permit should be applied for by a prospective employer before the B1 is issued. Chinese construction workers have a history of working in Israel. Details of who qualifies for the B1 visa should be available at local consulates in China also as to the documentation required and costs involved.

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Expanding into Israel? You will need a firm grip on work permit and visa compliance. Contact us today!