Your Way to Obtain Work Visas to Israel
If you want to work in Israel and you’re not Jewish you may still be eligible for a work visa. Like many other countries, Israel is interested in employing its citizens first. With this in mind, work visas to Israel for non-jews are very limited. However, there are a few scenarios where obtaining a work visa to Israel is possible. See the most common work visas to Israel below to learn about your options.
Given that illegal stay in Israel may end up in deportation and future refusal to reenter. We recommend taking legal action sooner rather than later. Our office is happy to help you reach your Israeli work visas and citizenship goals.
If needed our office also handles expert work visa requests and helps you gain Israeli citizenship through investment.
Israeli work visas
B1 work visa to Israel
If you are not eligible for Aliyah and want to work in Israel, you can try to obtain an Israeli work visa. To qualify for a work visa to Israel, a local employer must apply on your behalf for the B/1 work visa. However, Israeli work visa requirements are a significant undertaking for the local employer in particular. Similar to foreign workers who want to come to Israel. If you’re looking for a long-term expert work visa, please visit the Expert Work Visa section.
Israel work visa requirements:
B2 tourist visa to Israel
Every year the Israeli government issues 3 million tourist visas. Specifically, the B2 tourist visa is given for three months for tourism reasons. Therefore tourist visa prohibits its holder to work in Israel. Notably, if you hold a passport from the EU, USA, Russia, and Ukraine you can enter Israel without any special visa.
A2 student visa to Israel
A non-Jewish student can apply for a student visa in Israel. In general, the student must already be accepted to an approved higher education program. More importantly, the student must apply for a visa in their country of origin. Normally, the A2 visa does not allow the student to work in Israel; however, exceptions can be made in some cases.
Clergy visa to Israel
Israel is the religious center for many religions around the world. Accordingly, the state of Israel issues a special Clergy visa to non-Jewish persons and their families. Thus, this visa is valid for a fixed number of years. Its usually granted for serving the local religious community. Our office has handled many similar cases and we’re happy to assist you too.
If you want to volunteer in Israel you must get the volunteer visa first. Those who want to come to Israel for volunteer purposes will receive an Israeli visa for the period of their volunteer work. The first thing to remember is the organization that invites the volunteers must be recognized by the Israeli immigration authorities. Usually, the B-4 Israeli volunteer visa is granted for up to two years.
Work visa to Israel – Complete legal guide
Our law firm specializes in immigration to Israel, visas, aliyah under the Right of Return, the obtaining Israeli work visas for expert foreign workers. We help clients from Israel and all around the world in matters relating to representation with the Ministry of Interior – Israeli Immigration Authority. Very often, we encounter the question: “How can I obtain an Israeli work visa?”
In this article, Adv. Joshua Pex explains the rules and practical procedure of obtaining a foreign worker visa. In addition, we answer the question: can a person who is not eligible to make aliyah under the Law of Return, and who has no special skills, work in Israel?
Can I receive an Israeli work visa and then find an employer in Israel?
First and foremost, it should be emphasized that in Israel, foreign citizens cannot obtain work visas as a permit to enter Israel and start looking for an employer. The process is reverse: an Israeli business owner applies to the Ministry of Interior to bring a foreign worker into Israel. The employer is required to prove the need for such foreign worker, and show that it’s difficult to find an Israeli to fulfill the need. After receiving an approval in principle, they are also required to prove that the foreign worker holds the unique expertise required for the job.
This might be confusing for many people, since new immigrants (olim), family members, and certain asylum seekers have the right to seek any employment in Israel. However, none of these enter Israel as foreign workers, but rather with the status of spouse of an Israeli, temporary resident, or quasi-temporary resident.
What are the types of foreign workers in Israel?
There are a number of categories of foreign citizens working in Israel, who come into the country in various ways.
First, foreign workers in “difficult” employment fields which suffer from a regular shortage of Israeli workers. The State of Israel “imports” many workers in the fields of agriculture, nursing, and construction into the country, in cooperation with foreign countries, and with the brokerage of manpower companies, as detailed below.
Second, expert foreign workers, invited by specific employers, usually in the fields of high-tech, industry, or technology. These workers have a special skill and are required to comply with high payment demands. Prior to their arrival, the employer must prove that it’s difficult to find local workers in Israel able to perform the expert foreign worker’s job.
Third, international companies can send expert foreign workers to Israel in management positions with the purpose of opening a branch in Israel or expanding their Israeli businesses.
Fourth, as is well known, many asylum seekers or “illegal workers” reside in Israel, sometimes mistakenly referred to as “foreign workers.” Despite their relatively low number, they receive a great deal of public attention. It’s important to emphasize that asylum seekers in Israel are not eligible to receive work visas. However, in accordance with the ruling precedent of the Supreme Court on this issue, some of them may work in Israel without a work visa, so long as their application is under examination by the Israeli immigration authorities.
Fifth, foreign citizens who choose to illegally work in Israel. They usually enter the country under a tourist visa from post-Soviet states, or arrive to Israel as pilgrims in tourist groups from Africa or South America, and stay in Israel for work purposes. These foreign citizens are, of course, at risk of expulsion from Israel, and their Israeli employers are at risk of heavy fines for the illegal employment of foreign citizens without a work visa.
How can I receive a visa as a foreign expert?
As mentioned above, you first have to find an employer in Israel requiring the unique expertise that you can provide. Such employer must contact the Ministry of Interior and prove the following (usually with the help of a lawyer):
- A) Their business is in need of an employee with knowledge / expertise / skills that are difficult to find in Israel.
- B) That bringing the foreign expert into the company will contribute to the business’s growth, the employment of other Israeli workers, and the development of the Israeli economy.
The submission of an application to obtain a foreign expert visa costs approximately ILS 1,230. If the Ministry of Interior has agreed to grant the visa, the employer must pay a fee of approximately ILS 10,000 for the B-1 work visa. In addition, the foreign expert must be paid a salary that is at least double the average salary in the Israeli employment market.
Is a foreign expert visa limited to high-tech / people with university degrees?
Not necessarily. It is true that most foreign experts arrive in Israel to work in high-tech companies, in order to advance various projects. There are also foreign workers in Israel arriving in a managerial capacity, or as representatives of international foreign companies.
However, any person with a unique expertise that is difficult to find in Israel, but that is necessary for a business willing to put in the money and effort, can obtain this visa. The category of expert foreign workers also includes chefs in ethnic restaurants, animal trainers, and sports trainers. Small companies can also obtain a permit to bring a foreign worker into Israel for a long or a short period of time.
On the other hand, Israel has no shortage (to say the least), of lawyers, Russian teachers, or of journalists. Even with a diploma from the most prestigious university, and excellent employment experience, if a worker isn’t needed in a particular field, it would not be possible to obtain an Israeli work visa for such experts.
Can my friend / relative, a business owner in Israel, get me an expert foreign worker visa?
In principle, there’s nothing stopping a business owner in Israel from bringing a foreign worker into Israel, who is a friend. However, a foreign worker cannot have first degree relatives in Israel. In any case, to obtain an expert workers visa they will have to provide evidence that this foreign worker has unique knowledge or skills that are difficult to find among other workers in Israel.
What about foreign citizens without unique skills?
Can a person, with no chance of receiving a specific work offer from an Israeli company, work in Israel in any other way? The State of Israel does grant a large number of visas to foreigners who are not experts, in the field of agriculture, construction, and nursing.
These foreign workers are recruited by Israeli companies that specifically specialize in these fields. Agricultural workers mainly arrive from Asian countries, such as Thailand and nursing workers are mostly citizens of the Philippines / post-Soviet states. These workers are not required to prove any specific expertise, but they do have to prove that they have no criminal record, have not been refused entry to Israel, and have not sought asylum in Israel.
Our law firm cannot recommend specific companies that recruit workers in these fields, but we do feel the need to warn potential workers. An employer is supposed to recruit foreign workers since he requires their work and is willing to pay for it. If the employer, or any “agent” along the way, requires the worker to pay for the right to work in Israel, this is illegal, and therefore it’s reasonable to assume that the entire visa obtainment process is problematic, to say the least.
So do I have to file to seek asylum in Israel and work until I’m expelled?
This is what many people think when they can’t obtain a work offer from an Israeli company, and can’t get accepted into work through a manpower company in their countries of origin. Here it’s important to emphasize some points, some practical, and some moral.
Practically – you’re likely to receive a quick refusal and will not be able to return to Israel
First of all, it’s important to explain that only those who are within Israel’s borders can submit an application to receive asylum. You can’t apply for refugee status in Israel while being abroad.
Second, due to the amount of impostor “asylum seekers” arriving into Israel only for financial reasons, and solely for the purpose of working here, the State of Israel changed its policy concerning asylum seekers to swiftly deny asylum requests and expel those suspected of “economic immigration”.
Following denial of asylum seeker status and expulsion from Israel (or departure from the country for any reason whatsoever, even if the application was not denied), the applicant and their nuclear family members will not be able to return to Israel, whether as tourists, or in any other way. During the period of work in Israel, the asylum seeker’s family will not be permitted to enter Israel, and if they exit the country, they would lose their status and not be permitted to return.
Even the spouses of Israelis, persons eligible to make aliyah who discovered their ancestry, and others with the legal right to enter Israel, would find it difficult to exercise such right after submitting an application for asylum and exiting the country.
Submitting an application for asylum for financial reasons – the moral aspect
The amount of false asylum seekers is eroding border check and Ministry of Interior officials’ trust in citizens from asylum seekers’ countries of origin. It harms the countries’ relationship due to the amount of refusals of entry given to innocent tourists, who have no wish to seek asylum, or to work illegally in Israel. This refusal also hurts the real asylum seekers who are indeed persecuted in their country and are at risk of their lives due to their political views, religion, sexual identity, or ethnic group.
Here it is worth mentioning the Dalai Lama’s words. On the one hand, every country has a moral obligation to provide shelter and living to those persecuted for their faith and actions. However, the aim is that they should eventually be able to return to rebuild their own countries – in other words, even genuine asylum seekers shouldn’t seek to work and stay in the asylum country forever.
Contact Israeli immigration specialists
If you are an Israeli employer wishing to obtain an expert foreign worker visa for a foreign citizen, our law firm is at your service. Please contact us in order to schedule a meeting with an immigration lawyer from our Jerusalem or Tel Aviv offices.