New regulations incentivize recruitment of high-tech workers

12 Feb 18

ISRAEL

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Israel has moved to provide new immigration incentives for high-tech companies bringing foreign experts to Israel.

What does the change mean? Companies that are recognized as “Hi-Tech Companies” by Israel’s Innovation Authority will be eligible to sponsor workers on a type of B-1 work visa called a High Tech Visa, or HIT Visa. The visas will initially be valid for one year and will be processed in six working days. Spouses of HIT visa holders will be eligible for general work authorization for the duration of the principle visa holder’s stay.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: B-1 visas for high-tech workers (High Tech Visas, or HIT Visas), B-1 work visas for spouses (EAS visas).
  • Who is affected: Employers, foreign high-tech workers and their spouses.
  • Impact on processing times: Companies preapproved by the Innovation Authority will be able to obtain expedited processing of work permits within six business days.
  • Business impact: The streamlined processing and easing of work authorization rules for partners are intended to boost Israel’s high-tech industry.

Background: The changes took effect under a set of regulations recently published by Israel’s Ministry of Interior.

Under the regulations, nationals of visa-waived countries working for hi-tech companies will be eligible for HIT visas, which will be processed in six business days. Visa applicants will be eligible to enter Israel immediately once their application is approved. The visa must then be processed in the employee’s passport at the Ministry of Interior within two business days of the employee’s entrance into the country.  Authorities will review any previous stays in Israel in order to ensure compliance with all of the country’s immigration laws. The visas will be valid for one year, extendable for an additional five years and three months. Sponsoring companies seeking this route must pay the foreign employee at least 19,604 shekels (about US$5,570) gross per month, which is double the average salary in Israel.

The regulations also call for providing employment authorization to spouses of HIT visa holders. Spouses of HIT visa holders will be eligible for EAS visas if the HIT visa holder will be working in Israel for more than 90 days. Spousal visa duration will be tied to the principle visa holder’s work authorization and will allow spouses to work for any employer in Israel. There are no prevailing wage requirements for EAS visa holders. Applicants and their spouses will be required to be physically present at the Ministry of Interior for visa processing. It is anticipated that EAS visas will also be available to qualifying domestic partners, but this is not yet clear from the regulations.

BAL Analysis: While the steps are positive developments for high-tech companies in Israel, the new regulations are still unclear on some points, mainly in relation to spousal visa applications. BAL also continues to seek information about how companies can qualify as high-tech. BAL will provide more information to clients as it becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Israel. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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