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Entry visa to Israel for commercial and employment purposes (important legal information)

Joshua Pex
Joshua Pex

Sergei m Vashkevich

We came to Mr. Joshua with so many questions (and most of all, with so many concerns and worries) …

When we explained our case to him, first of all, he calmed us down and helped us to see the big picture, which took away our fears;

Then he presented us with a detailed explanation and a few options to explore, and a timeline, how things work and necessary steps to undertake on our part,

We thank and highly recommend Mr. Joshua for showing us so much empathy, care and professionalism (!)

How do you obtain a permit of entry to Israel for commerce and employment purposes? Many Palestinian workers and businessmen living in the West Bank wish to enter Israel to work, due to the many business and employment opportunities available to workers in Israel. In practice, this often entails a complicated legal procedure, and it is important to know the different types of permits which enable employment in Israel. In this article, an attorney from our office who specializes in Israeli immigration law and in entry to Israel will describe the relevant permits and explain the requirements which must be fulfilled in order to acquire them.

Our law firm, with offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in immigration law and in entry to Israel. Our attorneys are experts in dealing with cases of foreign workers, including West Bank residents and their employers, who need help obtaining entry permits to Israel for employment purposes. Our attorneys are also experts in labor law and in dealing with matters such as work permits, employment contracts, exercising workers’ rights and more.

היתר כניסה לישראל לצורכי מסחר ותעסוקה (מידע משפטי חשוב)

Why is it so complicated to obtain an entry visa to Israel for commercial and employment purposes?

Entry to Israel for commercial or employment purposes is of vital importance to many Palestinians living in the West Bank. Tens of thousands of Palestinians are presently employed in Israel, primarily in the construction and agriculture sectors. In addition, a growing number of Palestinian businessmen maintain commercial ties in Israel, and many others would like to find employment or establish commercial ties in Israel. Indeed, in recent years the number of permits for work and business purposes in Israel has risen significantly. The factors which led to this increase were, among other things, the involvement of human rights organizations in the matter, as well as court intervention in related cases.

In order to work and engage in commerce in Israel, you must go through a long and complicated procedure. Before anything else, you must obtain an entry visa to Israel. These visas are not granted to everyone, due to considerations of security and Israeli policy. For this reason, it is important to understand the different types of permits and to know which permit is relevant in each and every case and the conditions for obtaining it. Due to the large amount of bureaucracy which may be involved in the process, seeking help from a lawyer specializing in immigration to Israel can make the process significantly more efficient.

Which Israel entrance permits are relevant for commerce and employment purposes?

It is a little-known fact that there are actually more than 100 different types of Israeli entry permits for Palestinians. Most of the permits allow for a one-time entry to Israel, for medical purposes, religious purposes, family purposes and so on. These types of permits are usually given by branches of the District Coordination and Liaison (DCL) spread across the different areas of the West Bank. As a rule, renewing these types of permits requires submitting a new application and providing proof to support your case for entering Israel. In addition to these permits, there are two other types of permits which are especially relevant to our issue.

This first type of permit is the entry permit to Israel for commercial purposes. This permit was designed to promote commercial ties between the Palestinian Authority and Israel and to make it easier for Palestinian businessmen to conduct business in Israel. This permit allows Palestinian businessmen to enter Israel for business and commercial purposes for a period of up to six months. Another type of permit relates to the employment of Palestinians in Israel. In this case, there are many different types of work permits. Obtaining these types of permits requires the involvement of both the potential employer and the worker who wishes to work in Israel. In the following section we explain the requirements for obtaining each type of permit mentioned above.

What is required of Palestinian businessmen looking to obtain an entry permit to Israel for commercial purposes?

An entry permit to Israel for commercial purposes is called a BMC. It is a special permit given to Palestinian businessmen, among others. It is considered a very prestigious permit, with relatively few of them given out. However, in recent years the Civil Administration’s quota on the number of such permits has been increased. Moreover, the regulation pertaining to this issue was recently amended such that it allows exceptions to be made in certain cases which do not meet all of the criteria for obtaining the permit.

The primary way to obtain such a permit is by letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Civilian Affairs in the Palestinian Authority. However, Palestinian businessmen who do not fully meet the criteria can still apply for the permit as an exception. To submit an application, you must supply several different documents. These include, among others, documents showing the existence of a business which engages in commerce in Israel, or alternatively, the existence of a business located in Israel.

During the evaluation of the BMC permit application, the Civil Administration will ascertain that there is no criminal record preventing the application’s approval. For example, if the businessman applying for the permit was indicted in the past, it may prevent the approval of the permit application. Additionally, the security authorities, including the Israeli Security Agency, will check that there is no security issue preventing the application from being approved. If the application is approved, you will receive a permit for up to six months, after which you may request its extension via an expedited route. If the request is denied, in some cases you may be able to file an appeal in court. For more information regarding the BMC permit, see another article we published on the subject.

Entry permit to Israel for employment purposes

The Foreign Worker Act applies to Palestinians working in Israel. The law requires that the employer obtain a general permit to employ foreign workers before any individual entry permits to Israel for employment purposes can be issued. The Israeli government has set various quotas for the employment of Palestinian workers. Each sector has its own quota, which serves to determine the maximum number of workers permitted entry to Israel for employment purposes. Aside from the fact that each sector has a different quota for foreign workers, each sector also has its own conditions for issuing a permit to employ Palestinians. As a result, it is necessary to submit different applications to employ Palestinians in the construction sector, the agriculture sector, the hotel industry, the restaurant industry and so on.

After obtaining the permit, a worker employment license must be applied for. In addition, similar to the conditions for obtaining an entry permit to Israel for Palestinian businessmen, Palestinian workers also have to undergo a background check to ascertain the absence of any criminal or security issue preventing their entry. The length of the permits varies between the different sectors and the different circumstances of each case.

What other permits may be relevant?

As you see, there are different permits for commercial purposes and for employment purposes in Israel. Furthermore, there are supplementary permits which are often required alongside the application for a commercial or work permit. For example, a Palestinian businessman holding a BMC permit will usually want to enter in his own vehicle. However, to do so he must obtain an Israeli driver’s license or an equivalent driving permit in Israel. The regulations on this matter have recently been amended, making it significantly easier to obtain an Israeli driver’s license as a Palestinian. We explain in detail the different types of licenses and the requirements to obtain them in another article published on our website.

In addition, many businessmen and workers from the Palestinian Authority live with a partner who is an Israeli citizen. This requires them to obtain legal status in Israel by way of the family reunification process. This is an extremely complicated process, due to the current Israeli law which severely limits the number of people entitled to family reunification. The law authorizes the Minister of Interior to grant Israeli citizenship or an entry visa to Palestinian partners of Israeli citizens only in exceptional cases. The issue has been brought before the Supreme Court a number of times.

As a result of the Supreme Court ruling and legal amendments on the matter, a special humanitarian committee was formed which is responsible for examining the exceptional residence visa applications of Palestinians who have family members living in Israel. This is an extremely complicated issue which raises difficult legal questions. In such cases we recommend seeking professional legal assistance from an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law with experience in dealing with Palestinians needing Israeli residence permits for humanitarian reasons. We expand on this important subject in another article published on our website.

Entry permit to Israel for commerce and employment purposes – contact an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law

In this article we described in detail the relevant types of entry permits to Israel and how they can be obtained. We are aware that this subject raises many legal questions. If you have any questions or require assistance in applying for employment permits or other permits in Israel, an attorney from our office will be happy to help you. You can contact an expert attorney from our office at the phone numbers and email address below.

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