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Visas & Work Permits in Israel

The Guide to Visa Types and Work Permit Requirements

Israel visa types for highly skilled workers include work permit visas for high tech workers, short-term workers, specialists in academic fields, scientists, and more. Temporary residence permits for Israel are given to workers staying in the country for an extended period, students, foreign spouses married to an Israeli citizen, and a few other special cases. Permanent residence permits, however, are a little bit harder to come by for foreign expats. They are only issued if you are Jewish and immigrating to the country, or a US investor willing to make a significant contribution to a business in Israel. While there is no such thing as a self-employment visa in the country, Israel does have an entrepreneurship program for skilled foreigners who are eligible and qualified.

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If you are wondering how to apply for an Israeli visa, we explain the details of the type of work visa you can ask for. Additionally, we provide information on self-employment visas depending on whether you are an entrepreneur or a US investor. For employees seeking the B/1 work visa, the Israeli visa application and process varies based on the type of work you will be doing in the country. This visa is open to experts, scientists, high tech workers, and others. Israeli visa requirements for the B/1 work visa typically include approval from the Ministry of Interior, a medical exam, and passing your visa interview, among other things. The Israeli visa cost is 9,675 ILS (2,740 USD) plus a submission fee.

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Work Permits and Employment-Based Visas

A professional relocating to Israel for work or business purposes can do so with the work permit and employment visa known as the B/1 work visa.

How to Get a B/1 Work Visa

The B/1 work visa is a business visa granted to workers who have been approved to stay in Israel for a limited time for work. It is issued to experts, scientists, high tech workers, and artists. This visa can be extended. If you are working in Israel for less than 30 days, then you will only need the visa. If you plan on staying and working longer than this period, you will require a work permit as well. You can apply for this at the same time as the visa. You will need to ask for both in your country of residence before coming to Israel. You must apply to an Israeli consulate.

Israeli work visa requirements for this permit are as follows:

  • approval from the Ministry of the Interior
  • visa interview
  • verified certificate of good conduct
  • certification of medical exam performed by an approved clinic or hospital recognized by the mission (read more about the medical exam in our Relocation section)
  • biometrics (fingerprints and photograph)
  • completed Israeli work permit visa application form
  • two passport-size photos
  • signed document from employer stating that they intend on hiring you

Once you arrive, customs will stamp your visa, which will then be valid for 30 days. You must apply for an extension before the 30 days are up. Extensions are then valid for up to a year and allow you to leave and enter Israel as many times as you wish.

Specialists Work in Academic and Non-Academic Fields

Specialists working in academic or non-academic fields for more than three months will be issued the B/1 visa and require

  • a higher salary requirement (at least double the average wage);
  • CV/resume;
  • academic certificates (if not in English, diplomas will need to be officially translated into Hebrew and notarized by an Israeli notary);
  • copy of passport (must be valid for a minimum of a year and three months from the start of the process);
  • power of attorney;
  • completed and signed application forms;
  • three passport-size photos;
  • marriage and birth certificates (for children under 18) for any accompanying family members (original with apostille);
  • police clearance (issued within the last six months);
  • medical clearance (issued within the previous three months).

The maximum stay and work period for these kinds of workers is five years and three months from their start date in Israel. The visa usually takes between two to three months to process.

Experts Work Short-Term Employment

If you are an expert working up to three months, you will also be issued a B/1 visa and will need the following:

  • normal Israeli minimum salary
  • CV/resume
  • academic certificates (if not in English, diplomas will need to be officially translated into Hebrew and notarized by an Israeli notary)
  • copy of passport (must be valid for a minimum of a year and six months from the start of the process);
  • power of attorney;
  • completed and signed application forms;
  • three passport-size photos;
  • police clearance (issued within the last six months);
  • medical clearance (issued within the previous three months).

The processing time is between two to three months. There is also a different short employment authorization that allows you to work in the country for up to 45 days on a B/1 visa as well.

High Tech Work Visa

A B/1 work visa will be issued to foreign nationals of specific countries who want to work for eligible cyber and high-tech companies in Israel. Documents they will need include

  • a higher salary requirement (at least double the average wage);
  • CV/resume;
  • diploma / training certificate / support letter (if not in English, diplomas will need to be officially translated into Hebrew);
  • copy of passport (must be valid for at least six months from the end of the assignment);
  • completed and signed application forms;
  • two passport-size photos.

The processing time is ten working days.

Post-Doctoral Research Visa

To be issued this type of visa, which can be extended up to four years, the applicant must

  • hold a Ph.D. degree;
  • have approval from the Council for Higher Education (CHE) that the university is indeed an institution of higher education;
  • provide a recommendation from the university;
  • have a signed affidavit from the university stating that the employee will only work for that university;
  • have medical insurance (provided by the university);
  • submit a Health Declaration.
Foreign Journalist Work Visa

The unique thing about this visa is that foreign journalists apply for their B/1 visa after they have entered Israel. Journalists must enter the country as a tourist and ask for a Temporary Journalist Card first. They can later apply for their visa at the Ministry of Interior. The processing time from date of entry is two to three weeks.

Scientist Work Visa

The scientist work visa is for lecturers or researchers who hold a master’s degree and wish to work at an institution recognized by the CHE. To apply, they will need

  • a recommendation letter from the university;
  • medical insurance.

This visa can be extended for up to 63 months.

Israeli Work Visa Cost

To apply for the B/1 work visa that is valid for at least six months, you will need to pay 9,675 ILS (2,740 USD). You will also be required to pay the submission fee, which is an additional 1,190 ILS (337 USD).

Family Visa

With the exception of expats staying in Israel for less than three months, holders of the B/1 Work visa are allowed to bring their partner and children. Family members are issued temporary residence visas under the B/2 courtesy visa. These visas are typically valid for the same length as the employee’s work visa. Visas for accompanying family members must be applied for at the same time as the applicant’s work visa.

Accompanying family members of high tech workers will be issued an employment authorization (EAS B/1 work visa for Spouses).

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Self-Employment Visas

As there is no way of getting a self-employment working permit in Israel, the closest thing to a self-employment visa is Israel’s Innovation visa (also known as the Start-Up visa) and the Expert visa for foreign entrepreneurs. American investors may also apply for the B/5 Israel investor visa.

Israel’s self-employment visas allow foreign nationals and top talent to initially stay in the country for two years via the Innovation Program. During this time, they are eligible to receive support from the Innovation Authority under the Tnufa program. Foreign entrepreneurs will be hosted at one of the twelve approved Landing Pads for Foreign Entrepreneurs. These are spaces that will expose the innovator to the country’s innovation ecosystem, give them a workspace, technological infrastructure, and business and logistical support. The twelve selected Landing Pads are:

  1. The Tel Aviv Municipality’s Tel Aviv Global—municipal company in charge of developing Tel Aviv and the city’s international accelerator project for urban entrepreneurship;
  2. Samurai Incubate Inc.—an investment fund and private incubator for technological initiatives;
  3. TechForGood—international organizations advancing start-ups developing new technical solutions for social, global, and environmental issues;
  4. The Trendlines Group—technological incubator that identifies, invests, and supports companies innovative technology in medical equipment, agriculture, and food technology;
  5. MATI Haifa—development center dedicated to developing the economy of Haifa by encouraging technological and business entrepreneurship;
  6. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem—entrepreneurship center of the university serves as an incubator for initiatives and assists in the establishment of start-ups;
  7. Lighthouse—shared workspace of innovators who receive support on the core issues of establishing and developing an initiative based on the entrepreneur’s needs;
  8. TheHive Ashdod by Gvahim—non-profit helping higher education immigrants integrate into the Israeli job market;
  9. Alon MedTech Ventures—technological incubator for entrepreneurs and start-ups in the life sciences field and medical devices sector;
  10. Terralab Ventures—technological incubator investing in seed-stage companies and entrepreneurs in Cleantech, Medtech, and other areas;
  11. The Kitchen Hub—technological incubator investing in seed and pre-seed food-tech initiatives to face challenges in food production;
  12. Initech digital product development—software house supplying a range of technical services.

Later, if their innovative project turns into a company, they can apply for the Expert visa. With this permit, they may stay and work on the start-up in Israel for an additional five years.

Innovation Visa Issuance Process

To begin the visa process, a foreign entrepreneur will need to meet the following requirements to receive a Start-Up visa:

  • have a technological idea they wish to develop into a product
  • statement outlining funding sources covering the period of intended stay in Israel
  • business plan with significant business potential (including the global market)
  • signed acceptance statement from Landing Pad

The following must be submitted to the Innovation Authority:

  • application form
  • photocopy of passport
  • medical insurance
  • proof of a clean criminal record
  • CV
  • certificates attesting to education

Expert Visa Issuance Process

Step 1—Set Up Shop

The entrepreneur with a valid Innovation visa must set up an Israeli company for developing the technological project in the country.

Step 2—Apply for Incentive Program

The innovator must apply for approval under one of the incentive programs of the Innovation Authority.

Step 3—Wait for Approval and Recommendation

If you are accepted, you will be notified and sent a recommendation to present to the Population Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) (see next step).

Step 4—Apply for your Visa with PIBA

Once you have all your documents in order, you can apply for your Expert visa at PIBA.

How to Get B/5 Israel Investor Visa

This multi-entry visa is only for US nationals who wish to invest in a business in Israel. With this permit, you can live in the country while you are managing the company. The visa allows highly skilled employees, investors, or foreign managers, along with accompanying family members, to live in the country indefinitely.

There is no minimum investment requirement; instead, proposed investments will be assessed based on individual merits. However, keep in mind that it will need to be considered a “significant” amount by the Israel Ministry of Economy and Industry.

American investors will also need to buy at least half of an Israeli business that is currently active or soon to launch, contribute to the Israeli economy, and create jobs for locals.

If the investor must bring foreign workers and managers along with them, they must be able to prove that the skills and expertise needed to fulfill the job cannot be found among local talent; hence the need to hire foreign workers.

 

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Residency Permits: Temporary and Permanent

How to Become an Israeli Permanent Resident

If you are not Jewish, getting permanent residency in Israel is rare. You must have an extremely valid reason for requiring it and permits are only granted on a case by case basis. Immigration authorities and the Ministry of the Interior will assess your particular situation, motives, and profile. You are better off contacting officials for personalized information and guidance.

If you still want to know how to get permanent residency in Israel as a non-Jew, there is one particular way of obtaining permanent legal status in the country: the B/5 Israel Investor visa. This visa is unique as it is the first of its kind that allows expats who are not Jewish, nor related to a Jewish/Israeli person by blood or marriage, to settle in the Holy Land with permanent legal status. However, it is only open to American citizens. A family visa will be granted to accompanying family members allowing them to live and work for as long as the investing family member is in the country.

Because this visa is so new (May 2019), there is little information available on the permanent resident fees for Israel via this visa. You are advised to contact your closest Israeli consulate for more information.

Israeli Permanent Resident Visa Requirements

Some of the requirements for the B/5 visa, along with those mentioned earlier in the section above, include:

  • business must be non-profit;
  • proof that the company will provide significantly more income than what is needed for the standards of living of the investor and their family.
Israeli Permanent Resident Application

The application for the B/5 visa must be submitted to the consul of any of Israel’s diplomatic missions in the US that hosts a commercial attaché attached to the Ministry of Economy and Industry: Washington, New York, Houston, or San Francisco.

Israeli Spouse Visa Process

Foreign spouses are allowed to be naturalized in Israel and receive permanent resident status based on their marriage with an Israeli citizen. If both spouses are already living in Israel, they can request a marriage visa at the Population Authority’s regional bureau at the Ministry of Interior office closest to their residence. If both spouses are abroad, then the foreign partner can request their visa at the nearest Israeli consulate before moving to Israel. If the foreign partner is abroad, but the Israeli partner is in Israel, then the Israeli partner must request permission first for their foreign partner to enter the country by submitting an official invitation via the Israeli Ministry of Interior.

While their case and request are reviewed, the foreign spouse will be granted a temporary visa (B/1 residence permit) for six months. With this visa, they can live and work in the country. It can be renewed as necessary. Once the request has been approved, they will be granted an A/5 permit (another type of temporary residence) valid for one year, and renewable for up to a total of four years. This is the start of the foreign spouse’s progressive naturalization process.

During this processing period, the couple will be interviewed and reevaluated on the genuineness and continuation of their relationship. No later than three months before the end of their fourth year of stay, the foreign spouse can choose whether they want to become a citizen or permanent resident.

The entire process can take approximately five years to successfully obtain permanent residence status as a foreign spouse.

Requirements

To make the Marriage visa request, some of the requirements include:

  • filled and signed application forms;
  • original, authenticated, and translated marriage certificate;
  • photos of both spouses;
  • Israeli identity card and passport of the Israeli spouse;
  • foreign spouse’s passport valid for a minimum of two years;
  • letter signed by the couple outlining the nature of their relationship;
  • original, authenticated, and translated birth certificate of the foreign spouse;
  • public certificate from the foreign spouse’s country of origin indicating their previous and current personal status;
  • clean criminal record;
  • proof of life in Israel: joint bank accounts, rental contracts, letters of support from friends and family;
  • affidavit prepared by both spouses.

For any accompanying minors (children of the foreign spouse from a previous relationship):

  • original, authenticated, and translated birth certificates
  • passport valid for a minimum of two years
  • authorization from the child’s other parent
  • proof of custody by the foreign spouse for at least two years before request date (for minors over 15 only)

How to Apply for a Temporary Residence Permit

Temporary residence visas in Israel all begin with the letter “A” and include the following:

  • A/1—for potential immigrants eligible according to the Law of Return
  • A/2—student visa
  • A/3—for religious clerics
  • A/4—companion visa for spouses and minor children of A/2 and A/3 visa holders (learn more about this particular visa under the Family Visa section below)
  • A/5 visa—for foreigners not eligible for the Law of Return who are in the process of obtaining Israeli citizenship or permanent residency, usually through marriage to an Israeli citizen or humanitarian work (for information on this visa, see the section above).
Requirements and Fees

A/1 

  • original birth certificate (with both parents’ names) with apostille certification
  • civil marriage, divorce, or death certificates if applicable with apostille certification
  • passport valid for at least six months after being issued your visa and photocopies of all your foreign passport pages
  • proof of Judaism and eligibility for Right of Return
  • fingerprinting and criminal background check
  • three identical and current colored passport photos taken on a plain, light background, sized 3.5 cm by 4.5 cm. 

The fee for this visa is 175 ILS (49 USD). 

A/2

  • consent from both parents or legal guardian if a minor
  • filled and signed application for a temporary resident permit
  • passport (valid beyond one year from the date of intended entry)
  • two passport photos
  • original letter of acceptance from a recognized educational institution in Israel
  • bank statements from the past three months proving you have adequate funds to support yourself
  • roundtrip airline ticket or evidence of payment for the next academic year
  • original birth certificate

The cost of this visa is 90 ILS (25 USD).

A/3

  • completed and signed application form
  • valid passport
  • two passport pictures

The price of this visa is 90 ILS (25 USD). 

Family Visa

Requirements for the A/4 visa include a filled and signed application form. This application is sent in conjunction with the application of the family member applying for the A/2 / A/3 visa. The applicant for the A/4 permit will also need a valid passport and two passport photos. A/4 visa holders are not eligible to work. The fee for this visa is 90 ILS (25 USD).

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Updated on: October 17, 2019
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