ISRAEL - New Regulations for Foreign Employees of "Hi-Tech Companies" and Their Spouses
Effective immediately, the Israeli Ministry of Interior has published new regulations relating to the employment of foreign experts in high-tech companies.
The new "Hi-Tech" (HIT) Visa was announced in January 2017.
One-year "Hi-Tech" (HIT) Visa
- The process only applies to visa waiver nationals;
- The company needs to qualify as a "Hi-Tech Company" - approval is at the discretion of the Innovation Authority (see below).
- The work permit will be valid for up to one year (extension will be allowed up to five years and three months).
- Work permit applications are to be submitted online.
- Processing time is estimated at six working days.
- The entry of the applicant into Israel will be allowed immediately after approval of the work permit, without the need to undergo consular processing.
- A B-1 Work visa must be obtained at the Ministry of Interior in Israel, within two work days of entry into Israel.
- Previous stays in Israel of the applicant will be reviewed by the Ministry of Interior upon visa processing, to determine full compliance with immigration law and regulations during past visits (overstays, illegal work etc.)
- The regulations require less supporting documentation to be provided by both the employer and the foreign national employee.
- The prevailing wage requirement remains set at double the average salary in Israel, currently NIS 19,604 per month.
Employment Authorisation for Spouse (EAS)
- This process applies to the spouses of HIT Visa holders who are intending to work in Israel for more than 90 days.
- A qualifying Hi-Tech Company may submit an application for EAS for the same duration as the HIT Visa.
- The EAS B-1 work visa for spouse will allow the spouse to work for any employer in Israel, as long as the prevailing wage requirement is met.
- The application must be made at the Ministry of Interior, and the attendance in person of both the spouse and the HIT Visa holder is required.
How does a company qualify?
To decide whether a company qualifies as "Hi-Tech", the Israeli Innovations Authority will review the company's registration data (obtained from the Central Bureau of Statistics with a permission form signed by the company).
The company must be registered in Israel and either
- have received monetary funding, tax exemptions or approval as an R&D company for public listing in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, in the last three years; or
- be involved in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, computers, electrical or optical components, aircraft or spaceships, or in computer programming, IT processing or data storage, or in research and development; or
- have spent more than 7% of its overall sales turnover on R&D in the previous calendar year; or
- have at least 15% of its employees occupied in R&D.
- Employers who may qualify as "Hi-Tech Companies" should contact their immigration specialist for more specific advice.