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How can foreign workers exit and re-enter Israel?

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Foreign workers leaving Israel for vacation purposes or to visit their home country are in a legally problematic situation. In most cases, visas granted to foreign workers require them to stay in Israel for the duration of their employment. Workers who leave Israel without a permit risk not being able to return afterwards, and even expose themselves to further sanctions. The primary solution in such cases is to obtain a special visa which allows a foreign worker to leave and then return to Israel legally at a later date. Below is an explanation on this type of visa and the ways to obtain it.

Our firm, with offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in Israeli labor and immigration law. We provide comprehensive and professional legal services in the field of foreign workers, to employees and employers alike. We offer a variety of legal services in the field, including: handling work visa applications for foreign workers; helping employers obtain employment permits in Israel; and legal consultation and support for foreign workers and their employers.

Foreign workers leaving Israel

By law, foreign workers staying in Israel are prohibited from leaving without a permit

Foreign workers usually come to Israel for extended periods of time, for several years in most cases. Naturally, being far away from their families and loved ones is not easy. However, one of the central conditions for legally staying in Israel is their continuous employment. According to Israeli law and regulations of the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, foreign workers are prohibited from leaving Israel without a permit, even if they have the consent of their employers. Workers who fail to comply with the law risk losing their jobs and the prospect of obtaining future visas to Israel. This may lead to them being refused entry, in accordance with Entrance to Israel Law.

The primary legal solution to the problem of foreign workers needing to leave Israel is a special visa called an “inter-visa”. This visa allows foreign workers to leave Israel for a short period of time and re-enter it afterwards, without risking refusal of entry or sanctions of any kind. It is important to clarify that this visa is not granted automatically, and that it is not possible to leave Israel until it has been approved. Our firm often receives inquiries from foreign workers who wish to leave Israel on short notice, not leaving enough time for the required procedures. For this reason, we explain the process below according to its legal requirements.

What are the conditions for receiving an inter-visa?

Visas allowing foreign workers to exit and re-enter Israel are only granted to workers holding a legal visa. This visa must be valid for at least 90 days following the planned date of departure. As mentioned, in order to obtain the inter-visa, a special application must be submitted ahead of time to the Population and Immigration Authority. The application can be submitted by the workers themselves, or by an attorney representing and assisting them. As a rule, in accordance with the regulations on the matter, only applications for vacation or home-visit purposes will be approved. The Population and Immigration Authority’s regulations on the matter apply to foreign workers in the nursing, construction and agriculture sectors. However, workers in other sectors, including foreign experts, can also apply.

What is the application process?

To apply, workers must fill out an application form for an inter-visa, with the following attachments: a passport that will remain valid for at least one year following the expected date of departure, a recent passport photo, an Israeli visa (which, as mentioned, must be valid for 90 days or more following the date of departure), and a statement signed by their employer. For nursing workers, the law requires the physical presence of the patient who employs them, or alternatively, the patient’s next of kin. In addition, an application fee must be paid. It should also be noted that in cases where the foreign workers hold a work visa that is valid for less than 90 days, their application will be sent for evaluation by the head of the office where they applied.

It is important to emphasize that ideally, applications should be submitted as early as possible, in order to ensure their timely approval. The applications are evaluated by the Population and Immigration Authority, which decides whether or not to approve them. As a rule, workers will be allowed to leave for a maximum of 90 days. This period is accounted for in the visa’s approved time until expiry. If the application is rejected, the decision may be appealed in one of several ways, which we explain in another article published on our website.

Can workers without an official employer apply for an inter-visa?

In the past, it was not clear if foreign workers who are legally staying in Israel, but are “between jobs”, are able to obtain an inter-visa. This issue has become controversial, since many foreign workers (especially nursing workers) often switch employers. Following the criticism, the law on the matter was revised, allowing foreign workers to apply even if they do not have a current employer. The above is relevant mainly to workers in the nursing sector, but may apply in other cases as well.

Contact an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law and the field of foreign workers

In this article we explained the inter-visa, which serves as the main solution for foreign workers who need to leave Israel and re-enter it afterwards. This subject often involves specific legal issues, therefore we recommend dealing with the matter as early as possible, and in accordance with the law. Our attorneys, who specialize in immigration law for foreign workers, will be happy to provide you with legal services in any matter relating to this issue. You can contact our offices at the email address and phone numbers below.

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