ISRAEL: Expanded B-1 Short Employment Authorization (SEA) Visa Validity Confirmed
The Israeli Ministry of Interior (MOI) has increased the standard validity of the B-1 Short Employment Authorization (SEA) Visa from 45 to 90 days. Available to visa-waiver foreign experts only, the B-1 SEA Visa allows eligible foreign nationals to undertake urgent work requiring specialty expertise in Israel. The visa can be sponsored by both Israeli and foreign employers and is commonly used for machinery installation or repairs.
B-1 SEA Visa Background and Key Details
Prior to the B-1 SEA Visa’s rollout in 2015, foreign experts who were urgently needed in Israel were typically required to obtain a long-term B-1 Work Visa, which could take upwards of four (4) months to obtain. The B-1 SEA Visa not only provides a streamlined application process (see below) and reduced document requirements compared to the long-term route, but also has significantly shorter processing times of 6-10 business days as well.
As this route is only available to visa-waiver nationals, no consular application is needed. Rather, the process steps are as follows:
- B-1 Work Permit Application – submitted to the Israeli MOI, processing time is currently an estimated 6-10 days.
- Entry into Israel
- B-1 Visa Application and Endorsement – application must be submitted within two (2) business days of arriving in Israel.
With the new announcement, the B-1 SEA Visa will be issued valid for an overall stay of up to 90 days per calendar year and is not renewable. These 90 days do not need to be used in a single stay and can be divided up among several visits to Israel. However, if using the 90 days across multiple visits, a new Work Permit application must be approved by the Israeli MOI prior to each individual entry into Israel.
Note that if the work permit expires on December 31 of the calendar year, a new B-1 SEA Work Permit application must be submitted on January 1 of the new year and the foreign national must be outside Israel while the application is in progress.
This change is expected to provide employers with greater flexibility to bring in foreign specialists for urgent technical needs. Employers should note, however, that this visa will still only be available to visa-waiver nationals; nationalities requiring a visa to enter Israel will need to seek a different immigration option (most often a B-1 STEP Visa, but this must be determined on a case-by-case basis).
For additional information on the B-1 SEA visa option and whether it may be useful for your global mobility program, please reach out to your dedicated Newland Chase contact or submit an online inquiry here.