Amidst the continuing unrest and instability in neighbouring Syria, the Israeli Ministry of Interior (MoI) has been steadily increasing its scrutiny of work visas. Over the past few months security has been at the top of the agenda for the MoI. As a result, foreign employers and employees need to be fully aware of changing attitudes to immigration in Israel.

In May 2013, the MoI released amendments to its border control policy. Business travellers are now required to declare that they do not intend to visit the West Bank upon entry into Israel. If they do intend to visit the West Bank, they must make their application for a visit permit one month prior to their visit. This application must be made to the Co-ordination of Government Activities in Territories.

In June 2013, the MoI announced that work permit applications must now be accompanied by copies of the relevant service agreement with Israeli companies. This applies to all new and renewal work permit applications.

Meanwhile, the National Immigration Authority has increased unannounced inspections of multinational corporations working on projects in Israel and employing foreign workers. Since the start of the year, 220 highly skilled workers have been investigated for working without the requisite B-1 visa. This resulted in their detention and subsequent deportation.

The MoI has advised that follow-up investigations will continue throughout the course of the year. With the situation unlikely to change in the immediate future, multinational companies with foreign employees are encouraged to:

  • Review immigration policies and employment law in Israel
  • Assess contractors' and sub-contractors' compliance with immigration policies and employment law in Israel
  • Carefully consider the scope of the work permits issued to their foreign employees and closely supervise their activities
  • Warn managers of the criminal liability and sanctions they face if they allow foreign nationals to work for the company illegally