We would like to draw your attention to a new trial visa program for foreign entrepreneurs. This program will allow foreign entrepreneurs to receive work visas for the development and establishment of technological ventures in Israel. The program is being operated for an initial three year pilot period in which approved entrepreneurs will be able to stay in Israel for a 24 month period for the development of their new ideas which will help the Israeli economy blossom and improve Israel's international image.  

Initially the foreign entrepreneur will be hosted by one of the 12 approved support frameworks. The support framework will expose the foreign entrepreneur to Israel's innovative environment, workspace, technological infrastructure and commercial and logistical support.  

Entrepreneurs who have been approved for the innovation visas will be able to develop new technological ventures in Israel during the visa period and afterwards they will be eligible to apply for a work visa.  

The 12 corporations designated as "approved support frameworks" published on the Innovation Authority's website, are as follows:  

  1. The Tel Aviv Municipality’s Tel Aviv Global - A municipal company in charge of developing Tel Aviv and handling the Tel Aviv Municipality's international accelerator project for urban entrepreneurship.
  2. Samurai Incubate Inc. – An investment fund and private incubator for technological initiatives in pre-seed and seed stage companies in Japan and Israel.
  3. TechForGood – An international organization advancing startups that develop innovative technological solutions for global, social and environmental issues.
  4. The Trendlines Group – A technological incubator that identifies, invests and supports companies developing novel technology in medical equipment, in agriculture and in food technology.
  5. MATI Haifa – A SME Development Center intended to develop the economy of the city of Haifa by encouraging technological and business entrepreneurship.
  6. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem – The entrepreneurship center of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem encourages and helps in the establishment of startups in the university and serves as an incubator for initiatives.
  7. Lighthouse – A shared work space for entrepreneurs who receive support and enrichment on the core issues of establishing and developing an initiative according to the entrepreneur's needs.
  8. TheHive by Gvahim – A non-profit intended to help higher education immigrants to integrate within the Israeli job market.
  9. Alon MedTech Ventures – A technological incubator for entrepreneurs and startups in the life sciences field, specifically in the medical devices sector.
  10. Terralab Ventures – A technological incubator investing in seed stage companies and entrepreneurs, in Cleantech, Medtech and other fields.
  11. The Kitchen Hub – A technological incubator investing in seed and pre-seed food-tech initiatives in order to face challenges in food production.
  12. Initech digital product development – an Israeli software house supplying a wide range of technological services.

How to apply:  

Recognition as a foreign technological entrepreneur by the Innovation Authority is subject to the follow three threshold requirements:  

  1. The entrepreneur cannot be a resident or citizen of the State of Israel.
  2. The provision of a declaration of the sources of funds for their living expenses for their period in Israel.
  3. A specification of the approved support framework they intend on joining; as well as a declaration from the approved support framework of their acceptance.

After fulfilling the threshold requirements, including confirmation from the support framework of the approval of the entrepreneur, the entrepreneur is to submit a standard-form application to the Innovation Authority. The application is to include a photocopy of the entrepreneur's passport, medical certification, certificate of good standing, resume and academic certificates. The application will be expertly reviewed by a professional appointed by the Innovation Authority. At this stage the entrepreneur is not required to be present in Israel in the event they are asked to undergo a professional examination, which can be done through different means, including: email, telephone or video conference. In reviewing the application, the committee wants to see, among other things, that the entrepreneur (i) has the background and experience in their proposed development field; (ii) that the entrepreneur has the potential for successfully developing and advancing their venture; (iii) that the approved support framework can add value to the success of the venture including the nature and quality of the connection between the activities of the support framework and those of the entrepreneur; (iv) that the entrepreneur's plan is highly innovative and highly implementable plan; (v) the plan has high commercial potential, including in the global market; and (vi) whether there is potential for the establishment of an Israeli industrial company.  

Subsequently, the entrepreneur is discussed by the committee which decides whether to approve the entrepreneur and recommend the award of an Innovation Visa to the Population and Immigration Authority at the Interior Ministry. In the event that the committee approves the application, a notice of the decision is provided both to the entrepreneur and the Approved Support Framework. After the committee approves the entrepreneur, the entrepreneur continues the application process in accordance with the guidelines of the Population and Immigration Authority at the Interior Ministry.  

Technological entrepreneurs interested in staying in Israel after the expiration of their Innovation Visa, are required: (1) to establish a corporation in Israel with the purpose of developing a technological venture in Israel; (2) after establishment of the corporation, they are required to submit an application to one of the programs operated by the office of the Chief Scientist; (3) after approval of the relevant committee of the foreign entrepreneur's application, the decision regarding the entrepreneur is transferred together with the recommendation of the Chief Scientist for the provision of an expert visa, and the entrepreneur may use it for their application to the Population and Immigration Authority for receipt of an expert visa (work visa).  

The processing of applications for innovation visas, as well as the provision of expert visas, their approval, extension as well as other related matters are in the sole authority of the Population and Immigration Authority.  

We will continue to provide additional updates.