Employing Foreign Experts in the High-Tech Sector
Employing foreign workers classified as experts in the high-tech sector is complex for both employer and employee. The State of Israel wishes to ascertain that the expert worker will only be hired if they exhibit skills that cannot be obtained in the Israeli marketplace. Concurrently, the expert must work to transfer their expertise to their Israeli colleagues, so that they might become proficient in the field, while the expert would be asked to leave as soon as is feasible (and are paid an especially high wage as long as they reside in Israel).
At the same time, Israeli legislation takes reality into account (alongside the pressure exerted by local high-tech companies), and an experimental process has been recently implemented which allows for less stringent and demanding terms of employment for the foreign expert as well as for the Israeli employer – for local companies engaged in technology. In this article, Attorney Joshua Pex explains how to obtain formal recognition as a company that meets the criteria of a “high technological knowledge corporation” based on the new experimental procedure.
If you are the head of a high-tech company engaged in software development and wish to submit a request to bring an expert worker to Israel, our offices can assist you. We have extensive experience with the various laws relating to high-tech corporations and companies, such as arnona benefits for software houses, permits for employing foreign expert workers, and so on.
Employing Foreign Experts in the High-Tech Sector
It is worth noting that according to the Population Authority, from the month of May 2018 to the month of April 2019, only 275 foreign experts in the high-tech sector have arrived in Israel. The authority provides charts and statistical data concerning the experts’ countries of origin, together with their age range, the duration of the visas they received, and so on. According to this data approximately 46% arrive from the United States (120 employees), followed by India with 23% (64 employees), as well as countries such as France, Germany, China, and Taiwan, among the many others represented in the statistical registry.
Terms for employing foreign expert workers in Israel – standard procedure
The purpose of most laws and procedures for employing foreign workers (as stated above) is to force the employer to make an effort in order to bring an expert foreign worker into the country. An employer is required to prove that the worker has unique skill, expertise, or knowledge, which is vital and sought-after in their particular field. The work visa is granted for a relatively limited period of time, and some of them are non-renewable.
Thus, for example, a foreign expert arriving in Israel via the accelerated procedure for receiving expert worker visas (which allows bringing foreign workers within a few days in emergency cases) would be obligated to leave Israel within approximately 45 days. Additionally, “standard” foreign expert visas cannot be extended indefinitely according to the employer’s needs, and must therefore be renewed annually up to a maximum of five years (excluding nursing visas, since the legislator recognizes that elderly / disabled nursing patients may wish to have the same caretaker to support them for many years).
Furthermore, the salary of the foreign worker must be at least double the average salary in the Israeli high-tech market at the time the visa is received. At the same time, in case the foreign expert specializes in a sector where the average salary for workers in Israel is particularly high, the commissioner may condition the granting of the visa by setting the salary at twice the average salary in the field.
Threshold conditions for employing an expert foreign worker by a corporation recognized as a “technology-intensive” company / industry
The three main innovations of the renewed experimental procedure are as follows:
The possibility of receiving a work permit based on an expedited procedure (bringing a foreign expert worker to Israel within a few days) for a fixed period of no more than 90 days (or even up to a year under certain restrictions) instead of 45 days.
There is the possibility of employing foreign citizens who have completed academic studies in Israel in the fields of high-tech – so long as they have completed their studies no more than a year ago. In this case there is not need to pay the graduate a double salary. The graduate is not required to leave Israel in order to obtain a work permit.
Additionally, individuals who arrived in Israel as foreign expert workers in the high-tech fields – that is, high technological knowledge as defined by the new law – have the option of coming to Israel with their life partners, if they received work permits valid for more than 90 days. Their life partners can receive a visa called visa B/1 General which allows them to live, work, and study in Israel legally. The partner’s employer is not required to pay them expert (i.e., double) salary or obtain a foreign worker visa for them.
Procedure for recognition as a “technology-intensive corporation”
To receive official classification from the Innovation Authority you must submit an appeal document and attach forms confirming that the appealing company is a limited company (and not a public benefit company) registered by law in Israel and not a foreign company. Additionally, approvals must be attached that “Research and Development expenses, according to generally accepted accounting regulations, exceed 7% of the annual sales turnover in the calendar year prior to the submission of the request, or that at least 15% of all employees are research and development workers”.
This request must be submitted simultaneously with the request to the permissions branch of the Population and Immigration Authority for employing a foreign expert according to the procedure related to technology-intensive corporations.
How to receive a foreign expert worker work permit or a dwelling permit?
The worker’s employer, an appointee given power of attorney, or the workers themselves (as well as the worker’s life partner if the permit is requested for them) must appear at the immigration office nearest the employer’s address. The meeting must be attended with the following documents:
- Passport of the Foreign expert (and life partner).
- Request form and visa replacement form AS/3.
- Payment of fee for license according to the fees chart.
- To receive a dwelling permit for a life partner, a verified certificate of good conduct and medical approval must be attached to the request.
Attached appendix – significant differences applying to high-tech companies
Attached appendix – executive summary
Thanks to Mr. Jonathan Gabrielov in writing the article
Law Office for Immigration to Israel
The Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh Law Office specializes in immigration to Israel, we assist in issues concerning bringing expert foreign workers to Israel, inviting life partners to Israel, and other issues concerning immigration and high-tech company laws. Our offices are located in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, we are please to serve you.