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Foreign Worker Couples and Families In Israel—What Does the Law Allow?

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Paul Prince

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Many foreign worker couples wish to come to Israel together. The option for foreign workers coming with their spouses or even other family members, primarily children, is not entirely closed off. However, the law creates many difficulties for couples in such a situation. A labor lawyer specializing in the field of foreign workers in Israel explains below about these difficulties and some possible solutions for them.

Our law firm, which has branches in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in labor law and immigration to Israel. We provide comprehensive legal solutions for foreign workers and their employers. We offer a variety of legal services in the field, such as handling requests for work permits for foreign workers; assisting with the process of obtaining permits to employ workers in Israel; representing clients before the Israeli authorities and courts; and helping resolve any legal issues facing foreign employees in Israel.

Foreign worker couples

Foreign workers moving to Israel with a Spouse face many legal difficulties

Israel is a rather attractive destination for foreign workers from many countries and fields of employment. Foreign workers often wish to come to Israel with their spouses. Also, both spouses may wish to come together and work in Israel, each in their own field of employment. The legal issues that arise in such cases relate both to foreign workers and to their employers. To allow the foreign couples to come, it is important to be well acquainted with the law in the matter and act accordingly. Main issues relating to this topic are detailed below.

In Which Fields May Foreign Workers Be Employed and What Visas May They Be Given?

The main fields of employment for foreign workers in Israel are nursing, construction, hotels, and agriculture. Also, foreign experts sometimes come to work in Israel in various fields, due to the need for their specific skills. The field of foreign workers is regulated in Israel via several laws, the most important of which are the Entry into Israel Law and the Foreign Workers Law. These two laws stipulate various regulations at the Ministry of Interior and the Population and Immigration Authority that define, inter alia, the various types of visas that foreign workers who wish to come to Israel may receive.

The most common visa for foreign workers is a work visa (referred to as a B1 visa). There are also other types of visas that allow their holders to work in Israel, such as an A5 visa. This is a visa that grants the right to stay temporarily in Israel, but, in contrast with a tourist visa, allows the holder to work at a temporary job during their stay in the country. In many cases, this visa is given to foreign workers who have not yet fully arranged their Israeli legal status, as well as to spouses of citizens, residents, and holders of long-term Israeli visas. To read more about the various types of Israeli visas, see another article published on our website.

What Do You Do If Each of the Spouses Is Eligible for a Different Type of Visa?

In some cases, a couple may come together to Israel but each of the life partners may receive a different type of visa. For example, one partner may come to work in Israel and receive eligibility for a work visa, while the other may come for academic studies and receive a student visa. In this case, the spouse with the student visa may only work in Israel under special circumstances (such as for academic research). These and other cases require deeply examining the applicant’s eligibility to work in Israel based on the visa that they have received, and consulting with a labor lawyer if needed.

What Issues May Arise Concerning Foreign Worker Couples?

A common issue in this context relates to the exercising of foreign workers’ social rights in Israel, of which the main one is maternity pay. In general, female foreign workers are entitled to maternity pay, subject to meeting the requirements of the law and completing a period of work that grants eligibility for maternity leave. Recently, the Israeli law was amended so that men may also take maternity leave. Exercising this right may be more difficult for men and, especially, male foreign workers, due to the types of jobs at which these foreign workers are usually employed. If difficulties arise in exercising the right of men to maternity leave, you should consult with a labor lawyer.

Another issue relates to the children of foreign workers. Foreign workers usually encounter a real difficulty in coming to Israel with their children, although this may be possible subject to submitting a special request to the Population and Immigration Authority. Moreover, legal questions and problems often arise concerning children who were born in Israel. Besides the fact that, in general, it is possible to arrange the Israeli legal status of foreign workers’ children, you should know that the children of immigrants in Israel are generally entitled to a variety of rights, such as the right to receive education and to purchase health insurance. However, even exercising these rights is not always simple, and the help of a labor lawyer is often needed. To read more about this important issue, see another article published on our website.

Contact a Lawyer Specializing in Immigration to Israel and in the Field of Foreign Workers

For any question or issue that may arise regarding the employment of foreign couples in Israel, you are welcome to contact our law firm. An immigration and labor lawyer from our firm will be happy to provide you with a comprehensive legal solution in the matter and in a variety of other matters, as well. You can contact us via the phone numbers and email address listed below.

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